History of the theatre

Important facts of the creative development of the Yakub Kolas National Academic Drama Theatre

1926, November 21 — the date is considered to be the birthday of the theatre. Belarus State Theatre was set up in Vitsebsk. It was the Second theatre based on the troupe made up of Belarus Drama studio graduates. By the way, the studio belonged to the Moscow Academic Arts Theatre.

1944 — the theatre was given the name of Yakub Kolas, who is the People's Writer of Belarus.

1946 — the theater receives the USSR National Prize for its performance «Nestserka» based on the play written by V. Volski. The premiere of the performance took place on May, 18 1941.

1968 — the performance «The Sixth of July» by M. Shatrov was awarded the National BSSR Prize.

1976 — the Belarus Lenin Komsomol prize is given to the National Academic Theatre for the performance «Symon-muzyka» staged after the poem written by Yakub Kolas.

1986 — A. Dudarau's «Vechar» performed on the stage of the Yakub Kolas theatre receives the National BSSR Prize.

2001 — the theatre obtains the «National» status.

The names of the drama studio graduates, who achieved incredible creative success, are now and forever part of Belarus theatre-art history. Those people are: People's Artist of the USSR Alyaksandr Ilyinski, Pavel Malchanau, People's Artists of BSSR Yanina Hlebauskaya, Alena Radzyalouskaya, Lyubou Mazaleuskaya, Maryya Bialinskaya, Tsimokh Syarhejchyk, Honoured Artists of BSSR Alena Lahouskaya, Leanid Markevich, Honoured Art Worker of Belarus Mikola Mitskevich.

Scores of distinguished stage professionals came from the theatre's drama studios. Among them we can name People's Artists of BSSR Zinaida Kanapelka, Iosif Matusevich, Anatol Trus, Anatol Sheleg, Yauhen Shypila, Leanid Trushko; Honoured Artists of BSSR Aktsyabryna Meldzyukova, Halina Karalkova, Lyudmila Pisarava; actors Barys Krupski, Piotr Byalevich, Siargey Kazlou.

The theatre troupe increases all the time dew to the arrival of graduates from the Belarusian State Arts and Theatre Institute and other theatrical educational institutions. The list of the most famous Kolas-actors or «kolasautsy» (Kolasautsy — is the name ascribed to all the artists who work in the theatre and it is derived from the name of Yakub Kolas) would certainly include People's Artist of the USSR, National Prize laureate Fyodar Shmakau, People's Artists of BSSR Heorhiy Dubau, Mikalay Zvezdachotau, Uladzimir Kulyashou, Halina Markina, Honoured Artists of BSSR Maryna Markouskaya, Barys Levin, Mikalay Tsishachkin, Ales Labanok, Henadz Shkuratau.

People's Artist of Belarus Svyatlana Akruzhnaya, People's Artist of Belarus and National Prize laureate Tadevush Kokshtys, Honoured Artists of Belarus Tatsyana Likhachova, Valyantsina Petrachkova, Tamara Shashkina, Ryhor Shatsko, talented actors of the middle generation and promising young actors are all part of the creative theatre troupe today.

Highly professional stage directors worked at the theatre. Those were notably Victar Darvishau, Navum Lojtar, Yuryj Shcharbakou, Iosiph Papou, Syamyon Kazimirouski, Barys Eryn, Alyaksandr Smelyakou, Valery Mazynski, Valery Masliuk. The theatre is now represented by art manager Valery Anisenka and by stage directors Yury Lizyanhevich and Mihas Krasnabaeu. The theatre also cooperates effectively with such stage directors as Mikalay Pinigin, Vital Barkousky, Yury Pakhomau, Uladzimir Savitski.

Artists A.Maryks, Ya. Nikalaeu, A. Salauyou made a great contribution to the development of the theatre set design. The position of chief stage designer belongs to Svyatlana Makaranka. To make set design the theatre also invites occasionally Andrey Pronin, Victar Tsimafeeu, Valyantsina Praudzina, Alena Ihrusha, Alyaksandr Kastsyuchenka.

Leanid Markevich, Barys Nasouski and Henadz Shemet contributed to the rise of music culture of the theatre to a great extent. Now the theatre works in cooperation with such composers and sound producers as Uladzimir Kandrusievich, Uladzimir Kur'jan, Dzmitryj Luk'janchyk, Aliaksej Eran'kou. Head of the theatre's music department Aliaksandr Kryshtaphovich can not only make an excellent choice of music tracks for the performance but also compose original scores.

The theatre troupe includes sixteen young actors, who have been educated at the drama faculty of the Belarusian Academy of Arts (distance learning). Four more young kolas-actors are still studying.

During the years of its existence the Yakub Kolas Theatre has turned into an authoritative laboratory of national dramaturgy. The theatre community collaborated effectively with K. Hubarevich, V. Paleski, V. Volski, K. Krapiva, P. Danilau, M. Matukouski, A. Makayonak, H. Marchuk, F. Palachanin, A.Yakimovich. Theatre lovers and critics made special mention of performances based on Yakub Kolas literary works: «War to war» (1937); «In the forests of Palesse» (1937); «Thunderstorm is coming» based on the trilogy «Na rostaniakh» (1958); «Symon the Musician» (1976); «The Land» («Zyamlya») (2000).

The cooperation between Uladzimir Karatkievich and the Y. Kolas theatre turned out to be creatively vivid. Ul. Karatkevich put two of his plays «Vitsebsk Bells» and «Kastus Kalinouski» at the disposal of the theatre. Those plays were staged by Valery Mazynsky in 1974 and 1978. The latest years of the creative biography of the Y. Kolas theatre have been marked by a remarkable impression of cooperation with A. Dudarau. Almost all of the pieces written by this outstanding playwright have been put on stage at the Y. Kolas theatre. In 1986 the production of Dudarau's «Vechar» by V. Mazynsky was awarded the National Prize of Belarus. In the year of 1999 the production of «Black Bride» by Vital Barkouski based on the dramatic poem «The Black Lady of Nyasvizh» written by A. Dudarau was named Best Theatre Production of the Year.

It became possible for the Y. Kolas Theatre goers to get acquainted with drama works of authors from different parts of the world thanks to the translations made by Vasil Syomukha, Ales Razanau, Yurka Hauruk, Yasep Semyazhon, Ryhor Baradulin, Henadz Buraukin, Yanka Bryl. «Hamlet» by W. Shakespeare, «The Inspector General» by M. Gogol, «Krachynsky's Wedding» by A. Sukhau-Kabylin, «The Power of Darkness» by L. Talstoy, «Mary Stuart» by F. Schiller, «Mother Courage and Her Children» by B. Brecht received worthy interpretation at the Y. Kolas stage. At present the repertory has been enriched with «The Garden of Cherry Trees» and «The Seagull» by A. Chekhau, «Vasa» by M. Horky, «Men of Wisdom…» by A. Astrousky and others.

The Y. Kolas Theatre is well-known abroad. The creative team of the production «Chagall…Chagall…» by U. Drazdou has participated in various International Theatre Festivals held in England, Scotland, Italy, Poland, Moldova. In 2000 and 2001 the performances «Chagall…Chagall…» and «Madame Bonne Chance» staged by V. Barkousky became prize-winners of the Edinburgh Festival. The Y.Kolas Theatre went on tours to the biggest cultural centers of the European continent: Moscow, St.Petersburg, Kiev, Tallinn, Pyarnu, Vilnyus, Kaunas, Kharkau, Lviv.
In 1994 a great tour to Germany was made. The Y. Kolas Theatre actors performed in Nienburg, Wietslar, Frankfort on the Oder. In 2007-2009 the theatre's company was on a tour to St.Petersburg, Bransk, Orel (Russia), Lviv, Odessa (Ukraine), Belastok and Warsaw (Poland).

The Yakub Kolas Theatre is the only National company on the territory of Belarus that works in a regional centre. The role the theatre plays in the aesthetic and social education of Vitsebsk citizens is invaluable. Although the company is searching for new methods of on-stage expressiveness, it worships the basic creative principles: truth of life and art, vivid and expressive form, adherence to national aesthetics, ethics and moral values.