Shevchenko First Theater of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic

Image - Scene from Les Kurbas' production of Taras Shevchenko's Haidamaky at the First Shevchenko Theatre (1920).

Shevchenko First Theater of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic (Pershyi teatr Ukrainskoi Radianskoi Respubliky im. T. Shevchenka). A theater established in March 1919 in Kyiv on the basis of the forced unification of the State Drama Theater and Molodyi Teatr (and later joined by the First Youth Theater of the Kyiv Soviet of Workers' Deputies). Among its actors were Hanna Borysohlibska, Vasyl Vasylko, Liubov Hakkebush, Polina Samiilenko, Iryna Steshenko, Kost Koshevsky, Marko Tereshchenko, and Hnat Yura. The theater's repertoire consisted mostly of Soviet and classical dramas. Its artistic directorship consisted of an artificial union (Oleksander Zaharov from the school of realist-psychological theater and the experimentalist stage director Les Kurbas) and did not have positive results. The only exception was Kurbas's adaptation of Taras Shevchenko's The Haidamakas in 1920. In early 1920 Yura departed with his conservative Molodyi Teatr group to form the touring Franko New Drama Theater (see Kyiv Ukrainian Drama Theater), and Tereshchenko's radical Molodyi Teatr group formed Tsentrostudiia (later the Mykhailychenko Theater). In the summer of 1920 Kurbas left the theater to form Kyidramte, and in 1921 Zaharov also left. Financial difficulties and demands for service in many Ukrainian cities resulted in the regrouping of the remaining ensemble as a touring theater until 1927, when it became the Dnipropetrovsk Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater.

Valerian Revutsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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