Former director of the Bolshoi Theater Vladimir Urin and former director of the Golden Mask Award Maria Revyakina headed a new festival project - it is called “Theater Route” and should present the best performances of Russia not in Moscow, but in the regions. Comments Esther Steinbock.
You don’t need to be a deep theater analyst to understand that “Theater Route” continues the activities that were previously carried out by the management of the Golden Mask Award - in addition to the Moscow festival of the best Russian performances and the organization of the competition. For many years in a row, Maria Revyakina’s team has been engaged in a kind of reverse activity: not only bringing the best harvest to the capital, but also exporting samples recognized by experts and the jury as the best back to the regions (moreover, these shows, as well as the projects accompanying them, were not regulated by an agreement between the directorate of the “Golden Mask” and the Union of Theater Workers (STD): they discussed the competitive events of the national theater award, that is, the selection of the best performances and the holding of a festival in the capital). Thus, residents of the so-called Perm could get acquainted with the most important performances not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also in the so-called Krasnoyarsk and Voronezh. Of course, over the years, the previous management of “Mask” had developed a resource for interaction with both business and local authorities, sponsors and cultural institutions.
After the reorganization of the main theater award, Maria Revyakina’s team was shown the door, and after changes in the management of the STD and the actual reassignment of the award (from the theater community to the state with its new cultural policy), it became completely clear that the old “Golden Mask” no longer exists. To hold the Golden Mask on a new basis - under full state control - the STD created a new directorate and new regulations on the festival. And Maria Revyakina announced that her experienced team will continue its activities: “We will be working on other projects, which we will definitely tell you about later” (see. “Kommersant” dated August 29, 2023). At this point, it was already clear that “other projects” were those that did not directly depend on the state budget, and therefore did not imply close ideological supervision.
Apparently, then the former director of “Mask” had in mind the future “Theatrical Route”. After his work at the Bolshoi Theater at the end of last year lost Vladimir Urin, him too attracted to this activity.
The highly experienced theatrical heavyweight, who has connections with business and regional elites no less than the former Golden Mask, became the “locomotive” of the new project, that is, the president of the Theater Route.
In principle, this is not just a good thing, but also a win-win: the hunger for tours of famous metropolitan and even regional theaters in the cities of our vast region is practically insatiable. In addition, regional tours of “Mask” were accompanied by an educational program - and this is also always in demand. Yes, the Ministry of Culture has a similar project, “Great Tours,” but it failed to become a monopolist - and will not succeed unless there is a higher central will.
In addition, “Route” will be spared from worrying about the “Mask” nominations, which means it will be freer in its attention to the state of viewer demand.
The new project does not involve any competitions or ceremonies - that part of the team’s work that has always brought the most trouble, headaches, and persistent grievances from influential functionaries who have been passed over for awards.
But it presupposes selectivity of maneuvers - after all, it is still unknown whether all theaters and all regional authorities will so willingly agree to cooperate with “Route”.
So far, the first destinations of the “Theater Route” are Perm and the cities of Karelia (Petrozavodsk, Kostomuksha). Future plans include both large regional centers (Ekaterinburg, Kirov) and small cities (Olenegorsk, Bratsk): a total of at least 14 festivals should be held per year. There is no doubt that their program will be scrutinized by specially trained local (and perhaps not only local) activists with magnifying glasses for possible sedition. And based on the results of the pilot festivals, it will be possible to understand how feasible the “route” is in the current difficult circumstances.