The History of The Meyerhold Centre (TMC)

The Meyerhold Centre (TMC) was founded in 1991 upon the initiative of the Commission on Meyerhold’s Creative Legacy (Komissiya po Tvorcheskomy Naslediyu V. E. Meyerholda), and with the support of the Union of Theatre Makers of Russia (Soyuz Teatralnhih Deyateley Rossii) and the Union of Architects of Russia (Soyuz Arhitektorov Rossii).  In 1999, by decision of the Moscow Government, TMC became a state-united enterprise.

The origin of TMC was connected to the activities of two independently operating organisations.  The first of them was the Commission on Meyerhold’s Creative Legacy, and the second was the Russia-wide association Creative Studios (Tvorcheskie Masterskie, literally Creative Ateliers).

The Commission on Meyerhold’s Creative Legacy, which continues to work actively to this day, was formed immediately after Meyerhold’s official rehabilitation in 1955.  The commission was headed by P. A. Markov (1955 – 1980), S. I. Yutkevich (1983 – 1985), M. I. Tsarev (1985 – 1987), and V. N. Pluchek (1987 – 1988).  Since 1988 the chairman of the commission has been V. V. Fokin.  From 1955 to 2003 the permanent academic secretary of the commission was M. A. Valentey-Meyerhold.  The members of the commission are S. N. Artsibashev, V. V. Gvosditskiy, T. M. Goryaeva, V. V. Ivanov, V. P Nechaev, H. F. Makerova, A. A. Mixailova, B. Piccon-Vallin (France), V. O. Semenovskiy, I. P. Uvarova, O. K. Feldman, A. A. Chepurov, N. M. Sheiko, and V. A. Shcherbakov.

Despite many years of embittered attempts to erase the memory of Meyerhold, numerous resources were preserved in state storehouses, thereby forming his legacy.  Through the efforts of archivists, theatrical historians, students and associates of Meyerhold, a laborious process of restoring the truth was begun.  By the 1960’s, books began to appear giving evidence of the true scale of the director’s personality; exhibitions and conferences were dedicated to him.  But literally every action of this type was met with resistance by those in power.  In the Meyerhold Anthology (Meyerholdovsky Sbornik, first edition, volume one), it is possible to find an extensive chronological record of events compiled by A. A. Sherel, documenting the various stages of this struggle that lasted for more than three decades.  Only by the end of the 1980’s, in the epoch of declared openness (glasnost), did a tangible change arise.

On February 4th 1988, V. V. Fokin and M. A. Valentey-Meyerhold approached the KGB of the USSR with a request to be allowed an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Meyerhold case.  In November-December of that same year, a decision was made to publish documents from that case, and to create a memorial apartment-museum in Moscow.  From February 25th 1989 onwards, nights dedicated to the memory of Meyerhold were held at the Ermolova Theatre, where Fokin was artistic director at the time.

On February 2nd 1990, the day of Meyerhold’s death was observed for the first time - previously, the exact date of the execution had been unknown.  More than two thousand people gathered at his home on Nezhdanova Ulitsa (now Bryusov Pereulok) carrying lit candles, having come to observe a minute of silence in honour of the memory of this cultural leader, fallen victim to tyranny.  On June 22nd 1990, M. A. Valentey once again approached the KGB, asking to resolve the (apparently already resolved) question of the apartment-museum.  On April 23rd 1991, after innumerable delays and litigation, after repeated appearances in the press by members of the Commission and numerous famous figures, and with the help of the Minister of Culture of the USSR N. N. Gubenko, the KGB released Meyerhold’s former apartment for use as a museum.  From that moment on, many actions performed by the Commission, by the Apartment-Museum and by TMC were carried out jointly.

On September 24th 1987, the Russia-wide association Creative Studios was granted official status by the Union of Theatre Makers of the RSFSR.  The authors of this idea were also the members of the first governing board of Creative Studios: E. Arje, Vl. Ivanov, D. Krimov, V. Maltsev, M. Mokeev, V. Semenovsky, and I. Shabaltas.  It is not by chance that they used the word ‘studio’ in the association’s title, a word brought into theatrical usage by Meyerhold.  They were attempting to create a structure unique for its time, with the aid of which they would be able to implement themselves as the representatives of a new art, as those who had been forced out to the periphery, those whom the repertoire theatre-monsters did not want to consider.

In their very first season the Studios premiered more than 20 plays, all created by previously unknown directors and groups.  A. Ponomarev, Klim, V. Mirzoev, V. Sarkisov, the group of poets Almanac (M. Eisenberg, S. Gandlevskiy, D. Novikov, T. Kibirov, D. A. Prigov, L. Rubinstein, V. Koval, and A. Lipskiy), and many others debuted successfully at Creative Studios.  Affiliates opened in Leningrad, Petrozavodsk, and Voronezh. 

The Studios existed thanks to subsidies provided by those individuals who had granted them their official status: paradoxically though, losing touch with the idea of independent theatre, they found themselves in complete financial dependence upon those individuals to whom they had intended to become an aesthetic alternative.  This led to the voluntary resignation of Creative Studios’ founders, and eventually to the ultimate dissolution of this romantic project from the first years of perestroika.

On the 6th of March 1990, the secretary of the governing board of the Union of Theatre Makers of the RSFSR accepted the decision to create The Meyerhold Centre on the site of the Russia-wide association Creative Studios.

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