We are creating an “electrozone” around us – a myriad of art events related to music, fine art, varied images of modern literature, and an educational program – a space that is open to the city. You can come here in the morning for a cup of coffee in our foyer. But this is not just a way of spending leisure time. This is a place where you will have to put some effort into comprehending modern culture.
(Boris Yukhananov, 2015).

The Stanislavsky Electrotheatre arose on the site of the former Stanislavsky Drama Theatre due to an auteur conception that was put into effect by Boris Yukhananov after he won a competition to fill the open position of artistic director in 2013. The idea to declare an open competition belonged to Moscow's Department of Culture and was based on the need for changes in the theatre, which for many years had experienced a creative and managerial crisis. The final decision was based on the expert opinion of the professional theatre community, which recognized the quality of Yukhananov's strategy, many-faceted, free in spirit, yet at the same time pragmatic.

In the course of a year and a half, the theatre underwent a large-scale reconstruction that was carried out by the Wowhaus architectural bureau, radically changing not only the stage, but also the public space. Additionally, the repertoire and artistic program were completely updated.

The Stanislavsky Electrotheatre opened it doors to the public in January 2015 with a light show and video mapping on the facade of the theatre to the music of Dmitri Kourliandski.

Одним из самых ярких мероприятий открытия Электротеатра СТАНИСЛАВСКИЙ стало световое шоу на фасаде здания театра 26 января 2015 года. Шоу «Электрофасад» подготовлено командой Электротеатра и компанией «Сила света».

The theatre's first premiere was Theodoros Terzopoulos's production of The Bacchae. Its foundation was the training that the Electrotheatre company went through with the director, and it represented a modern director’s perception of ancient Greek tragedy.

Terzopoulos had previously worked in Russian theatres, but the contribution he made in the sphere of mastering the actor’s potential while working at the Electrotheatre was especially important. This was accompanied by the publication of his first book in Russian, The Return of Dionysus. Based on the director's deep experience as a teacher, it was published in the Electroheatre’s Theatre and its Diary series. In essence it is a director's and teacher’s diary, and it is suitable for practical use as Terzopoulos describes his exercises in detail. The Bacchae featured a unique cast of actors led by Yelena Morozova and Alla Kazakova, who beautifully performed highly refined roles that were musically and choreographically complex.

Трейлер спектакля Теодороса Терзопулоса «Вакханки»

“Everyone in this theatre works! The atmosphere here is that of a great, big family. Yukhananov is building a utopia that is deserving of admiration."
(Theodoros Terzopoulos, 2015).

The Electrotheatre got off to a powerful start thanks, in part, to Yukhananov inviting several major foreign masters to collaborate with his company (Theodoros Terzopulos, Romeo Castellucci and Heiner Goebbels in 2015, and Katie Mitchell with her Five Truths installation from the Victoria and Albert Museum). This helped prepare the public for more, as it witnessed high levels of art and an openness to different styles. The presence of these names on a marquee at the geographical and cultural center of Moscow raised the status of the directing profession – by means of “an overall increase in the quality of productions, rather than of individual parts,” as Yukhananov himself had predicted in his original proposal for taking over the Stanislavsky Theatre.

Romeo Castellucci was known to Russian audiences as a frequent participant in international festivals. His performance-installations made a strong impression on the Russian public with their radical form and the severity of the director’s message. But The Human Use of Human Beings, rehearsed before the Electrotheatre’s official opening, was the director’s first work with a permanent Russian company. The premiere of Human Use, based on the biblical story of the resurrection of Lazarus, took place in July 2015. For the performance, the simultaneous viewing of which was possible only for 100 people, the theatre’s entire foyer was covered with a special polyethylene film, while, on the Main stage one could sit directly on a felt floor watching the artists bring in and manipulate a huge circle bearing text in a universal language invented by Claudia and Romeo Castellucci. Human Use emerged as an extremely important experience, both for those within the theatre who performed its complex mechanics, and for the spectators who encountered the consciousness of a highly unique artist, one who works in a theatre as he might in a modern museum.

“Theatre in Russia is a form of art so deeply felt that I am deeply shocked every time I come here. I have been friends for many years with Boris Yukhananov, the artistic director of the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre. Our relationship evolved philosophically and intellectually, but we were always on the same wave. As soon as I began working here I understood how deep our dialogue is.”
(Romeo Castellucci, 2015).

The renowned German composer and director Heiner Goebbels was also familiar to the Russian public due to his participation in the Chekhov Festival and special productions within the Golden Mask Festival. Goebbels created a new version of his production Max Black, or 62 Ways of Supporting a Head with a Hand especially for the Electrotheatre (the first was created for the Swiss theatre Vidy-Lausanne). This technically sophisticated and “old school” performance for a single actor was an important experiment in combining a composer’s mentality, technology, high precision work with space and objects and, in fact, text. Goebbels’ book The Aesthetics of Absence was translated by theatre expert Olga Fedyanina and published in the Electrotheatre’s Theatre and its Diary book series.

“Tremendous energy was needed to build the Electrotheatre, as well as massive energy for the uncompromising work of seeking unencumbered artistic solutions. This is one of those rare houses that supports the artist no matter what he decides to do.”
(Heiner Goebbels, 2015).

These three immersions in working with the technology and methods of fundamentally different, though highly tuned artistic consciousnesses determined the paradigm of the Electrotheatre’s existence. It is a theatre that is open to experiment and the challenges that one associates with contemporary art. The artistic vectors of the theatre’s future were expressed in what these three directors proposed. Two of them – Goebbels and Castellucci – are also, respectively, a composer and an artist.

A key vector of Yukhananov's artistic policy was to invite Russian directors of different generations and methods to work at the theatre. Over the life of the Electrotheatre, productions have been mounted on the Main stage by Alexander Ogaryov, Roman Drobot, Alexander Zeldovich, Philip Grigorian, Vladimir Kosmachevsky, Yury Kvyatkovsky, Yury Muravitsky, Kirill Vyotoptov, Marfa Gorvits and Denis Azarov.

Beginning in the fall of 2016 the new Small stage, created especially for debut directors, served as a portal into the profession for many beginning directors in the framework of the Golden Ass project. The Experiments in Non-adaptive Directing project, as well as productions by numerous directors whose shows can be seen around Moscow, followed. Beginning in the spring of 2020, debut productions have also been mounted on the Chamber stage, which is located in a former sewing workshop. Thus have young directors, designers, composers and choreographers made their first statement before Moscow’s professional community and general public.

The Stanislavsky Electrotheatre is a unique theatre multiplex in a sprawling megapolis that consists of highly-equipped Main and Small stages that are intended to support both dramatic and musical theatre, as well as a foyer, a coat check area and a stairwell where performances and concerts take place. In the midst of a productive environment of public interaction, this center for directing and contemporary theatre – including musical theatre – contributes significantly to the prestige of the city and its cultural image in the world. In the context of the theatre’s running repertoire, its educational programs, concerts, film screenings, cultural actions and exhibits have all become a productive and innovative medium for public communication.

The principal tenor of the Electrotheatre’s work is its extensive international activity and the promotion of the theatre abroad. Many of its productions are equipped with English subtitles, while all of the theatre’s print product, including the website, are produced in English and Russian. Guest lectures and master classes are conducted in the theatre’s foyer. The Drillalians opera series was screened in American and European cinemas, and the video version of The Blue Bird was shown on platforms at university libraries around the world. Online streams of the theatre’s productions during the time of quarantine were a cultural highlight of the first year of the pandemic.

By mounting musical projects that are of prime importance for the Russian stage (primarily the Drillalians opera series (2015), music for which was written by six top contemporary Russian composers: Dmitri Kourliandski, Boris Filanovsky, Sergej Newsky, Alexei Sysoev, Alexei Sioumak, and Vladimir Rannev), Yukhananov revived the original purpose of this Moscow theatre. It was, after all, founded by Konstantin Stanislavsky in the 1930s and was named the Opera-Drama Studio. At the end of the 2016/2017 season Yukhananov and Dmitri Kourliandsk’s opera Octavia. Trepanation revealed new horizons for the Electrotheatre in an international context. Later it was a winner of Golden Mask awards in several categories. In May 2017, the Electrotheatre became a member of the Union of European Theatres, a prestigious international organization supporting the high status of theatre as an institution.

The theatre unveiled a new performance space in July 2017 – the Theatre Yard, an environment for enlightened communication, and the perfect place for outdoor activities, festivals, and performances. The debut production in the Theatre Yard was Galileo. Opera for Violin and Scholar, a co-production of the Electrotheatre and the Polytechnical Museum. The scholastic conception of the project, music for which was written by five contemporary composers (Dmitri Kourliandski, Sergej Newsky, Kirill Chernegin, Pavel Karmanov and Kuzma Bodrov) belonged to the soloist and violinist Yelena Revich. The role of the scholar was performed by mathematician and physicist Grigory Amosov. The production perfectly fitted the concept of the Electrotheatre.

Uniting modern opera, multi-genre projects and dramatic theatre in one space, Yukhananov rejected the breaking down of art into genres and formats and introduced the notion of integral art.

Трейлер «Галилео. Опера для скрипки и ученого»

«We call the production an opera for violin and scholar, although many believe that in an opera someone must necessarily sing. In fact, this is not true, of course. An opera is a composite performance. I have long wanted to burn a great scientist, and I finally can do so with the participation of a few geniuses of contemporary music. As such, a lecture, transformed into a stunning, condensed dramatic text, goes up in flames. »
(Boris Yukhananov,, July 19, 2017).

The 2020/2021 season was an extremely successful one for the theatre. Both of its productions that were nominated for the National Golden Mask Prize – Octavia. Trepanation and Yukhananov’s Pinocchio – won a record number of nominations, including Best Dramatic Performance. Pinocchio, which premiered in 2020, was a genuine cultural event, timely while also employing "ancient techniques." It made a statement about the nature of theatre, as well as of those who create it and pass through its furnaces.

The connection with the past is important for the climate inside the theatre as well as for the artistic context as a whole. In The Blue Bird (2015), Yukhananov's first work with the troupe of the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre (formerly the Stanislavsky Drama Theatre), actors of the older generation encountered the latest theatrical language. The actors' carefully chosen memories of their personal and historical past helped rediscover the famous play by Maurice Maeterlinck. After the death of Vladimir Korenev, who performed the role of Tyltyl, the performance was recalibrated as a requiem for this legend of Russian theatre, a self-styled farewell to the actor.

The artistic image of the Electrotheatre is being curated freely and deliberately, with a desire to let world-famous directors display their mastery, and to give freedom to young artists.

Boris Yukhananov's international Catabasis. Demons project, based on a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, was mounted at the Cottbus Theater in Germany in the spring-autumn of 2021. An offshoot of the project was Yukhananov’s Catabasis. Demons exhibit of graphics in Russia. The next step will be to bring the performance to Moscow. A whole team of the Electrotheatre worked on the production – designers Stepan Lukyanov and Anastasia Nefedova, composer Dmitri Kourliandski and choreographer Andrei Kuznetsov-Vecheslov.

Spanish director Natalia Menendez’ Life is a Dream, based on the play by Calderon, emerged as an important premiere of the 2021/2022 season. This was not only a continuation of the Calderon line at the Electrotheatre which Boris Yukhananov began with his production, The Constant Principle, but it was also a remarkable opportunity for the troupe to collaborate with a director who comes from a completely different background, school and set of ideas. The premiere of this production took part during the Territory festival.

Трейлер спектакля «Стойкий принцип»
Трейлер спектакля «Стойкий принцип»

The Stanislavsky Electrotheatre combines theatre and education, tradition and innovation, leisure and mental exercise. An oasis in the very center of the city, it comprises a free and open field for art, and for reflection about a kind of art that, today, one can still only dream.

Текст: Кристина Матвиенко