Workers' and collective-farm theaters

Workers' and collective-farm theaters (робітничо-колгоспні театри; robitnycho-kolhospni teatry). Touring theaters, usually organized by state political education administrations, and known as workers' and peasants' theaters until the 1930s. The first such theater in Ukraine was the Franko First Ukrainian Workers' and Peasants' Theater in Odesa (est 1924 by Leonyd Predslavych). It was followed by the Zatyrkevych-Karpynska Touring Workers' and Peasants' Theater in Romny (est 1925) and the Tobilevych Workers' and Peasants' Theater in Lokhvytsia (est 1925). Workers' and peasants' theaters were organized in Zinovivske (now Kropyvnytskyi) in 1926 and in Kyiv, Kharkiv (Veselyi Proletar), and Zaporizhia in 1927. The Kyiv Theater of the Oblast Council of Trade Unions performed in the Donbas from 1929, and the Lviv Workers' Theater was active in Galicia. Their repertoire consisted mostly of Ukrainian populist-ethnographic classics, with some world classics and contemporary Soviet dramas. From 1929 Soviet dramaturgy became dominant in the repertoire of workers' and collective-farm theaters and consisted mostly of plays published in the magazines Sil’s’kyi teatr and Masovyi teatr. In 1930 workers' and collective-farm theaters were created in Okhtyrka and Artemivsk (Donetsk oblast), and in 1932 in Nizhyn (see Nizhyn Ukrainian Drama Theater). Their number had reached 22 by 1933, and in 1937–9 there were 29 Ukrainian, 4 Russian, and 1 each of Moldavian, Bulgarian, German, Greek, Jewish, and Polish such theaters. After the Second World War there were only 17 in all, ethnic-minority workers' and collective-farm theaters were eliminated, and the number of Russian theaters increased. In 1961 workers' and collective-farm theaters became oblast theaters.

Valeriian Revutsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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