A Short History of the Fomenko Workshop Theatre
The Fomenko Workshop Theatre was officially created in 1993 by mayoral decree under the direction of Pyotr Fomenko, but the Fomenkis trace their history back to July 1988. At that time Pyotr Fomenko selected his second group of students at the Theatre Directing Faculty of the Russian Theatre Academy (GITIS).
The company’s name arose spontaneously: every new group of students at GITIS is considered a workshop, and since Fomenko’s students remained together after graduating, the school name became the theatre name. Thus was born the Fomenko Workshop Theatre. Company productions were staged not only by the artistic director, but by many other directors as well, such as Sergei Zhenovach, Yevgeni Kamenkovich, Ivan Popovski and Nikolai Druchek. The company regularly takes on new students: at present the company incorporates three generations of Fomenkis. In 2007 the theatre recruited a group of actors and directors who wished to continue their professional training with Pyotr Fomenko. Following this three-year graduate course, many participants joined the company. They participate in performances of the current repertoire and are involved in work on new productions.
For many of its early years, the theatre lacked a home. In 2000 it finally moved into a renovated space that formerly housed the Kiev Cinema. A few years later, Moscow City Hall constructed a new building for the Fomenko Workshop Theatre that included all the modern technical capabilities. The building’s unique design was created in close collaboration by LLC Architecture, Cultural Policy PNKB and the Fomenko Workshop Theatre. The new space was christened in January 2008 with the premiere of Fomenko’s production of Alexander Ostrovsky’s Without a Dowry.
Five productions preceded the official founding of the theatre. They were: Twelfth Night by Shakespeare, directed by Yevgeny Kamenkovich); The Order of St. Vladimir, Third Class by Nikolai Gogol, directed by Sergei Zhenovach); The Adventure by Marina Tsvetaeva, directed Ivan Popovski; Wolves and Sheep by Alexander Ostrovsky, directed by Pyotr Fomenko; and The Sound and The Fury by William Falkner, directed by Sergey Zhenovach).
These student productions gave rise to the Fomenko Workshop Theatre. Only one of these productions remains in repertory today (Wolves and Sheep) but it is still a great favorite with audiences. Having premiered in May 1992, it is now well over 20 years old.
The theatre’s current marquee is comprised primarily of productions that have been staged in recent years. First and foremost, these include productions by Pyotr Fomenko:
- two adaptations of prose works by Leo Tolstoy: Family Happiness (2000) and War and Peace. The Beginning of the Novel (2001)
- One Absolutely Happy Village by Boris Vakhtin (2000)
- He Was a Titular Counselor adapted from Diary of a Madman by Gogol (2004)
- Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov (2004)
- Without a Dowry by Alexander Ostrovsky (2008)
- Triptych, an adaptation of three works by Alexander Pushkin (2009)
- A Theatrical Novel (A Dead Man’s Memoir) by Mikhail Bulgakov (2012)
Then there are productions by other directors.
- Yevgeny Kamenkovich
- Heartbreak House by Shaw (2005)
- The Main Thing adapted from Mikhail Shishkin novel Maidenhair (2006)
- Ulysses based on the novel by James Joyce (2009)
- Afterplay by Anton Chekhov and Brian Friel (2010)
- The Gift adapted from the novel by Vladimir Nabokov (2012)
- The Mountain Giants by Luigi Pirandello (2014, co-directed with Polina Agureeva)
- A Contemporary Idyll by Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (2015)
- Ivan Popovski
- The Poisoned Tunic by Nikolai Gumilyov (2002)
- Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco (2006)
- Alice Through the Looking Glass (2010) by Lewis Carroll, the Fomenko Workshop Theatre’s first production for children
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (2015).
The company has participated in numerous Russian and international festivals: the Golden Mask Festival and the Chekhov International Theatre Festival in Moscow; the Christmas Festival in Novosibirsk, the Voices of History Festival in Vologda, the Chersonesus Games Festival in Sevastopol, the Kontakt Theatre Festival in Torun (Poland), the Venice Bienniale, the International Theatre Festival in Avignon, the Bonn Biennale, the BITEF Festival in Belgrade, the Autumn Festival in Paris and the Autumn Festival in Madrid, the Russia in Italy Festival in Rome, the Europalia Festival in Belgium, etc. The theatre has toured extensively in Russia, Europe, Latin America, the USA and Japan.
The Fomenko Workshop Theatre’s productions have repeatedly been winners of prestigious theatre awards: the Stanislavsky Award, the Golden Mask National Theatre Award, the Crystal Turandot Independent Theatre Award, the Chaika Theater Award, the Hit of the Season Award, and the Golden Knight Award. The company has also received prizes and awards at numerous international festivals.