Volkov Drama Theater, Yaroslavl

The Russian State Academic Drama Theater or Volkov Drama Theater in Yaroslavl, Russia opened in 1750. Originally held in a simple barn, the theater has been transformed into one of the stateliest and most respected landmarks in the city.

During the 18th century, theater culture in the Russian provinces was an integral part of everyday life, with performances regularly staged at educational institutions and in the homes of merchants. The inspiration for Russian State Academic Drama Theater was birthed in Moscow when a merchant’s stepson from Yaroslavl was sent by his stepfather to study in the city. While in the capital, the young Fyodor Volkov fell in love with theater and returned home to Yaroslavl full of excitement, scarcely guessing how his newfound passion would influence his city and nation.

After returning to his hometown, Volkov set up a theater in a barn. He formed a professional troupe whose fame eventually spread all the way to Moscow. At the invitation of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, Volkov’s cast became the first troupe in the history of Russian theater to go on tour. They traveled from Yaroslavl to Tsarskoe Selo before performing three plays in the capital, thereby securing the favor of the Empress forever.

The Yaroslavl theater changed its building and official title several times, but by the early 19th century it had become a major city landmark. In the 20th century, Fyodor Volkov Russian State Academic Drama Theater became the first permanent theater in all of Russia. In 1911, a magnificent building was constructed to house the theater which had come to be held in such high regard in the city and beyond.

In 2000, the theater began holding "International Volkov Festival", an annual celebration of theatrical art, and in 2008 "The Future of Theatrical Russia Festival” was founded.

The Russian State Academic Drama Theater can be found at Yaroslavl’s city plaza named after Fyodor Volkov, where a monument to the great actor has also been created.