Moscow Drama Theatre named after Stanislavsky on Tverskaya, the Moscow high street, has recently reopened its doors with a new name, concept and look. It is now Stanislavsky Electrotheatre – an important new venue with the ambition to become a global stage direction centre.
The new name harks back to 1915, when the original art-nouveau building was conceived. By then it held a cinema which by then was a new form of entertainment, and cinemas were called electrotheatres. This provenance of the building later became an obstacle for its further use as a drama theatre, as technologically a drama theatre requires a much more complex planning than a cinema.
The architects’ objective was to transform the elongated building of the former cinema into a contemporary theatrical platform in which any part – be it the hall, foyer, staircase or the backyard – can be used for all sorts of modern theatrical performances.
Wowhaus has come up with the main principle of the Electrotheatre concept being the transformability of spaces and the openness of internal processes. Mobile barriers divide the technical and public zones, and the functions of these zones can be interchangeable.
Since the main theatre building is listed as the Architectural Monument of Federal Significance, very strict regulations to the restoration of valuable historical elements had to be adhered to. The main restoration principle of Wowhaus has been to reveal the beautiful interior elements that remained in the building since 1915, clean them from layers of unwanted paint and show them in their pure form, and juxtapose the newly-built elements not trying to imitate the original style, but rather trying to retain the atmosphere and design philosophy of the original.
The result is a building paying due respect to its history and at the same time being essentially modern in its feel and use.
Following the reconstruction, the theatre has undergone significant enlargement: the three recently renovated corpuses now hold a hall, a drapery section, wardrobe department and scene shop – and a vast new lobby area has been created with exhibition space and an exit into the internal courtyard which, in essence, forms a new town square. Another addition to come later this year is the Secondary stage for chamber performances to be placed in a separate building that will be totally rebuilt. This cultural institution thus becomes simultaneously an important social and cultural milestone in the city.