The Old Theatre of Vilnius today is the only professional theatre in Lithuania that stages performances in Russian. Its repertoire includes Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Marius Ivaškevičius’s Russian Romance, and other adaptations of classic and modern works.
In 2021, the theatre will present its 500th premiere – such is the number of productions staged during 75 years of its creative activities. Theatre critics praise the exceptional creativity of the theatre’s company, its ability to harmoniously combine outstanding talent with a unique acting school, and its successful cooperation with noteworthy directors from Lithuania and abroad. Thanks to its outstanding performances, the theatre has won many prestigious national awards and has gained recognition at festivals in Lithuania and abroad. The Old Theatre of Vilnius is regularly invited to tour and participate in festivals. The theatre’s productions have been enjoyed not only by the residents of Vilnius, but also of other Lithuanian cities – Klaipėda, Kaunas, Panevėžys, Rokiškis, Alytus, Varėna, Palanga, Visaginas, Šalčininkai – as well as audiences in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Czech Republic, Belarus, Israel, Estonia and Latvia. If you have any questions, including about the possibilities of creative cooperation, e-mail us at email@example.com
A Bit of History
In 1864, Pavel Vasilyev, an outstanding actor of Imperial Alexandrinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, founded the first permanent company of the Russian Theatre in Vilnius. As a result, The Old Theatre of Vilnius was born. Its repertoire included multi-genre performances based on works by Russian and foreign playwrights, including those of the “new generation”: Chekhov, Ibsen and Hauptman. In the late 19th century, the great Russian actress Vera Komissarzhevskaya appeared on the stage of the theatre.
During World War I, the theatre was closed; the company was disbanded. It was only in 1946 that the theatre reopened its doors to the public. Its second birth was celebrated by performing Ostrovsky's play Innocent as Charged. From then on, many talented personalities have worked in The Old Theatre of Vilnius, including directors Roman Viktyuk and Jonas Jurašas, actresses Monika Mironaitė and Elina Bystritskaya, composer and musician Vyacheslav Ganelin. The 1960s and 1980s became the golden age in the theatre’s history – back then it played the dominant role Lithuania’s cultural life and was highly regarded by foreign critics.
In the middle of the 80s, the theatre was moved from its old location on Jogailos Street. Now it is now based in the historical building where the well-known Pogulyanka Polish Theatre used to be located.
Built in 1913 by Wacław Michniewicz and Aleksander Parczewski, this theatre building is among UNESCO’s protected cultural sites. The building’s architecture combines elements of Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque and other styles. Its Great Hall is decorated by a chandelier as old as the theatre itself, embellished with masks and crystal. Numerous important theatrical and historic events took place in the theatre. In 1917, it hosted a conference, during which the establishment of an independent Lithuanian state was propounded. The theatre also witnessed the triumphs of Juliusz Osterwa and his Reduta Theatre, as well as those of Aleksander Zelwerowicz, Borisas Dauguvietis, Antanas Škėma and Eimuntas Nekrošius. Since 1986, The Old Theatre of Vilnius is based in the building.