History

The Moscow Art Theatre came into existence thanks to the joint efforts of actor/director Konstantin Stanislavsky and playwright/acting teacher Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. The theatre was conceived over a dinner at the private dining room of the Slavyansky Bazaar restaurant on June 22, 1897. The dinner that the founders shared, lasted around 18 hours. They stayed at the restaurant till late at night, and then decided to move to Stanislavsky’s country house in the suburbs where the meeting ended at the crack of dawn.  In the course of that meeting they managed to discuss every potential company member; to agree on the prospective repertoire of plays; to choose the form of corporate governance; and, most importantly, to set the ethical principles of this new endeavor. 

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Sixteen months after the meeting the new company opened its inaugural season to the overwhelming acclaim of theatregoers and critics alike. The Seagull by Chekhov was part of the first season and became the company’s signature piece and its logo.  All his subsequent pieces, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov wrote for the Moscow Art Theatre and they were premiered there.  

Moscow Art Theatre is justly considered a birthplace of modern directing; a home of the most notable playwrights of the 20th century (Chekhov, Gorky, Bulgakov and many others); and the cradle of the Stanislavsky system of acting. It was the first theatre to introduce seasonal programming based on a set artistic goals; and the first theatre where the playwright, the director, and the resident ensemble of actors are equally essential. 

A subsequent major page in the Moscow Art Theatre history was the unprecedented two-year-long tour of Europe and the US in 1922-1924. That tour made the company a world treasure. It was during this tour that the Stanislavsky system, known as the Method in the West, became the golden standard of actors’ training.  

Celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2018, Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre remains on the forefront of the artistic pursuit. It is a company of 120 actors with a rotating repertoire of nearly 60 productions that are presented every night on the three stages. The company maintains close ties with its training program – world-renowned Moscow Art Theatre School, regarded as the leading theatre school in Russia, and with the Moscow Art Theatre Museum that preserves and develops their unique and most valuable theatre collection.