Galiaskar Kamal Tatar Academic Theater, Kazan
Kazan, Russia is famous for its theaters, and Galiaskar Kamal Tatar Academic Theater in Kazan is one of the most beloved of them all. Known for its extraordinary performances and unmistakable architecture, the theater has served to develop and promote the Tatar language and theatrical arts for over a century.
The history of Galiaskar Kamal Tatar Academic Theater began long before the construction of its current building. Tatar drama began to develop from modest home and school plays in the late 19th century. The first public performance in the Tatar language was organized by an ensemble of progressive Tatar youth on December 22, 1906. The plays "Pathetic Child" and "Trouble Because of Love" were performed at the premier, and from that time on the annual countdown to Kazan’s theatrical season began.
The first professional Tatar theatrical troupe was founded by Ilyas Kudashev-Ashkazarsky, a teacher from the city of Orenburg. Director Gabdulla Kariev, affectionately known as the “Father of Tatar Theater”, was appointed head of the newly formed group.
The Sayyar (Itinerant) Troupe, named by Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukay to reflect the group’s busy tour schedule, first performed at the Eastern Club in Kazan in 1911. The group became a magnet for talented artists and a means of spreading cultural enlightenment, which in turn inspired the emergence of additional Tatar troupes.
Several outstanding directors, actors and playwrights who helped to shape the formation of Tatar theater became household names at that time. Tatar actor and director Gabdulla Kariev and playwright Galiaskar Kamal, whose contributions played a major role in the development of Tatar theater, were regarded as legendary. Galiasgar Kamal, nicknamed "Tatar Ostrovsky", not only wrote his own works but also successfully translated Russian classics into Tatar.
In 1907, female actress Sahibzhamal Gizzatulina-Volzhskaya grew to stardom on the Tatar stage. Five years later she moved to Ufa and created another Tatar troupe there, which later grew into the Nur Ufa State Tatar Theater.
The Kazan theater’s name was changed to “Academic" in 1926, and the name of Tatar playwright Galiaskar Kamal was added in 1939. In 1987, Tatar Academic Theater was relocated to an unusual building on Lake Kaban, where it remains to this day. The building itself is one of the main attractions of the city: Its quadrangular layout and angled roof house several halls, rehearsal rooms and spacious foyers whose walls are adorned with decorative and applied art.
Today, patrons of theatrical art can enjoy a variety of performances at Galiaskar Kamal Tatar Academic Theater in Kazan. The theater's repertoire mostly consists of national drama, but many well-known Russian and foreign works have also been offered, including “Three Sisters”, "Waiting for Godot", "Tartuffe" and "Princess Turandot", the latter two of which were staged by foreign directors. All performances are in Tatar, but Russian and English translations are offered through special headphones.