On November 21, by order of the Minister of Culture of the Voronezh Region Maria Mazur, director Mikhail Bychkov was dismissed from the post of artistic director of the Chamber Theater, which he created 30 years ago. The message that one of the most famous and respected domestic directors has been “relieved of his position” was published on the official website of the department.
Mikhail Bychkov is the creator and permanent artistic director of the Voronezh Chamber Theater since its founding in 1993. The director has produced more than 120 performances, and fifty were produced at the Voronezh Chamber Theater. This unique theater has become a tuning fork not only for Voronezh cultural life, raising it to a new level, but it is well known throughout Russia. The Chamber became the winner of the Golden Mask seven times, and 13 of the theater’s performances were nominated for the award.
Mikhail Bychkov's theater is, without a doubt, original, built on complex modern interpretations of classical works. In every performance, be it “The Thunderstorm” by Ostrovsky, “Antigone” by Anouilh or “The Cabal of the Saints” by Bulgakov, the nerve and thought of today beats. At the same time, the Chamber is not a closed “sect”: Mikhail Bychkov invites other directors, young ones at that, to productions. In particular, the leader of the new generation of directors, Anton Fedorov, has already produced two performances on this stage. In addition, in 2017, the theater acquired its own dance troupe, which was the first in Voronezh to permanently and professionally engage in modern choreography.
“Mikhail Bychkov has always been distinguished by honesty, integrity, love for the profession, for the audience and the artist. Today he was fired without explanation.
For the Chamber Theater, this sudden and unmotivated decision of the ministry is a painful blow in the anniversary year, a shock and a disaster,” it says in the messagewhich was distributed by the theater itself on November 21.
The creator of the Voronezh Chamber Theater is known for his independent and active civic position: he protested against the reform of the Golden Mask, spoke out in defense of Kirill Serebrennikov, convicted in the “theater case,” and was also one of those who signed the “letter of artistic directors” in February 2022, calling to stop the SVO in Ukraine. In March 2022, Mikhail Bychkov resigned (at his own request, according to official information) from the post of artistic director of the Platonov Arts Festival, which he created in 2010. This festival was a notable event in Russian theatrical life and made Voronezh one of the cultural capitals of the country.
Previously, Mikhail Bychkov’s merits were recognized at the state level. In 2013, he was awarded the medal of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, II degree, “for great services in the development of national culture and art, many years of fruitful activity” and the title of Honored Artist of the Voronezh Region, and in 2014 - the Fedor Prize of the Government of the Russian Federation Volkov "for his contribution to the development of theatrical art in the Russian Federation." However, neither all this nor the unconditional authority of Mikhail Bychkov among his colleagues prevented his sudden dismissal in the middle of the 30th anniversary season “by decision of the founder.”
The government of the Voronezh region told Kommersant that director Oleg Tkachenko will temporarily act as artistic director of the Chamber Theater. “The appointment of a new artistic director is planned before the new year, and communication with applicants is currently underway. The regional government is confident that the staff of the state theater and its high level of work will be preserved,” the department clarified.