Yakub Kolas Theatre – 85 year of history.
Yakub Kolas Drama Theatre in Vitebsk is one of the best theatres in Belarus, which can impress with not only a great repertoire and a fine cast, but also interesting architectural layout and advantageous location. Built on the territory of the Upper Castle (where, actually, the city began to be developed), it is part of the historic city center, which offers beautiful views of the Western Dvina River and many attractions of Vitebsk.
Modern building of Yakub Kolas Theatre, the architectural monument of Vitebsk in post-war period, was built in 1958 by architects Maximov and Ryskina. The main facade of the building facing the Millennium Square is made in the form of an eight-column Doric portico ending into a triangular pediment with a decorative relief. The side facades are decorated with rustic, pilasters, molded inserts. The back facade of the theatre is designed as a four-column Doric portico. In the heart of the building there is a three-layer auditorium with a pit and two balconies; maintenance rooms are located on back sides.
It is interesting that the first draft of the theatre provided the basement level for maintenance rooms and dressing rooms. However, given the location of the theatre (as it stands on the bank of the Western Dvina River), they had decided not to build the basement level, as it surely would have washed away the river flows.
As for old timers of the theatre, the building of Melpomene servants had been kept almost "on a wing and a prayer" till its reconstruction in 1985, because the city officials saved on building materials.
The birthdate of Yakub Kolas Region Drama Theatre in Vitebsk - November 21, 1926. At that time, vague for Russia and Belarus, Belarusian drama studio at Moscow Art Theatre decided to create Belarusian Drama Theatre. The first graduates of the studio at Moscow Art Theatre included such prominent figures as People's Artists of the USSR Ilyinsky, Molchanov, Stanyuta who have made a huge contribution to the culture of Vitebsk.
Few people know that in 1920-1930s of the last century serious political passions run high in the theatre. The head of the studio Smyshlyaev created the Order of the Templars in the building on Castle Street, preached the idea of spiritual development. One of the initiatics in this medieval order, whose followers burned at the fire of the Inquisition, but managed to leave their knowledge to the future generations, was Sergei Eisenstein, director of "Battleship "Potemkin". According to the legend, he was dedicated to the Order in our theatre. In the early 1930s most of the Templars lost in cellars of the NKVD, and in the newspapers wrote against "cornflower mysticism" (so the Soviet ideologues tagged the Order).
For development of the national culture in 1944 the theatre was named Yakub Kolas and play "Nesterka" not leaving the stage in the war years, was awarded the USSR State Prize. The theatre troupe constantly showed excellent results on the international stage and theatre festivals in Europe, representing the culture of Vitebsk. Thus, in 2000 and 2001 productions "Chagall ... Chagall" and "Madame Bonshans" became winners of Edinburgh Festival. In 1977 Yakub Kolas Theatre awarded an academic title. In 2001 it received the proud title of the National Theatre.
In November of 2011 Yakub Kolas Theatre celebrated its anniversary with exhibition "We remember everything", dedicated to its history.
On the other side of the bridge there is the Millennium Square with the domes of the Annunciation Church proudly staring into Vitebsk blue sky. The Temple of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother is the first stone church in the city, built even at Princess Olga times in the 11th century, one of the most interesting tourist attractions in Vitebsk.
If you go to the theater from the City Hall, the historic city center, you cannot miss Pushkin Street. Just 200 meters in length, it is a favorite meeting place for lovers and a perfect example of ancient architecture in Vitebsk. Although Pushkin had been never in Vitebsk, one of his friends, some nobleman Nashchokin, lived here. Through his stories about the manners of the feudal lords in Vitebsk province Pushkin wrote "Dubrovsky".
Now Pushkin Street has notably changed. Along with the Temple of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother, it is part of Cultural and Historical Center of "Golden Ring of the city of Vitebsk" where Center of Folk Arts "Zadvinye" is located with an exhibition hall and creative workshops.