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The Taras Shevchenko Academic Ukrainian Drama Theatre


An adornment of this part of the street is the building of the Taras Shevchenko Academic Ukrainian Drama Theatre. It was built in 1841 in accordance with the design of the first Kharkiv City Architect A. Ton and was considered to be one of the best theatre buildings in Russian provinces of that time. Later it underwent major repairs by architect B. Mikhalovsky who added some French Renaissance features to its facade.

But the history of the theatre itself had started long before the building was constructed. The first theatrical performances staged by an amateur troupe in Kharkiv date back to 1770, whilst a permanent city drama theatre was not founded until 1812. Its first director was H. Kvitka-Osnovianenko, a prominent Ukrainian writer and dramatist.

The outstanding actor M. Shchepkin as well as such luminaries of the Ukrainian theatre as N. Sadovsky, P. Saksahansky, M. Zankovetska also performed in this building. World famous actors — Sarah Bernhard, Eleanora Duse and Ira Aldridge performed as guest actors in Kharkiv.

In the early 20th century the theatre became a meeting point for the cream of the Ukrainian cultural society, including the poets and writers P.  Tychyna, Yu. Yanovsky, M. Kulish, Yu. Smolych, theater vanguard artists V. Meller, A. Petrytsky and other artists living at that time in the Capital City of Kharkiv.

The facade of the building is decorated with a plaque commemorating Les Kurbas, a great stage director and innovator, who in 1922 founded the Berezil Theatre (the name of the theatre originates from the Ruthenian word ‘berezol’ meaning a ‘green birch’) and directed it until 1933.

Another memorial plaque on the facade commemorates Leonid Bykov, a prominent actor of the late 20th cenruty, who graduated from Kharkiv University of Arts and performed at this theatre.

Vladimir Mayakovskiy, Henri Barbusse and Theodore Dreiser spoke from the stage of the theatre in the 1925–1930s.

Today the Taras Shevchenko Academic Ukrainian Drama Theatre is one of the best in Ukraine, its performances enjoy success at prestigious international festivals and theatre forums.


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