The St. Petersburg State Theater of Young Spectators is one of the oldest children’s theaters in Russia – it opened its doors in 1922. Today, the theater bears the name of its founder – director, teacher, People’s Artist of the USSR Alexander Alexandrovich Bryantsev, who led the theater for four decades. Bryantsev sought to implement the idea of a “special purpose theater” that would be equally interesting to three generations of viewers: children, teenagers and youth. TYUZ still lives according to the artistic principles developed by its legendary founder.
In addition to Bryantsev, many cultural figures of that period took part in the creation of the theater: professors, teachers, composers and actors. Among them are a specialist in Slavic languages N.N. Bakhtin, a famous graphic artist V.I. Beyer, composer P.A. Petrov–Boyarinov, actor, playwright and theater teacher P.P. Gorlov, actress, director and theater teacher P.N. Pashkova–Gorlova. Composer and musician N.M. Strelnikov, a student of N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov, gave most of his life to the theater. For three years, the literary and repertoire part was headed by the poet, playwright and translator S.Ya. Marshak.
Initially, the theater was located in the building of the former Tenishevsky School on Mokhovaya Street – at 35, where the Educational Theater is located today. The first season opened on February 23, 1922 with the play “The Hunchback Horse” based on a fairy tale by P.P. Ershov. This production was destined to become the hallmark of the theater – having survived several renewals, it goes on stage to this day, and the “Hunchback Horse” itself has been the emblem of the theater for many years.
Pedagogical activity has always had a special significance for the Youth Theater. In 1924, two years after the opening, a Delegate meeting arose with him – a kind of children’s parliament, the “spectator asset” of the theater, consisting of representatives of city schools. The delegate assembly has existed for more than 70 years.
The repertoire of the theater expanded rapidly: at first it consisted of fairy tales and classical works, then the theater began to master modern drama – in 1925, A.A. Bryantsev staged a play based on an acute social play by playwright, actor and director L.F. Makariev “Timoshkin Mine”, written by him specifically for the theater.
Even in the most difficult periods for the country, the TYUZ did not stop working. During the Great Patriotic War, performances were played daily – despite the fact that many theater workers went to the front or went to perform at the forefront as part of brigades. In 1942, the TYUZ was evacuated from the besieged Leningrad to the Ural city of Berezniki. There was no local theater there, so the troupe staged performances for both children and adults. In the summer of 1944, the theater returned to its building on Mokhovaya Street.
The post-war repertoire of the Youth Theater was diverse: topical performances that bore the stamp of the era (“The Son of the regiment”, “The girl is looking for her father”, “The Certificate of maturity”) it was adjacent to fairy tales and productions of Russian and foreign classics (“Twelve Months”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Thunderstorm”).
In 1962, Zinovy Yakovlevich Korogodsky, People’s Artist of the RSFSR, a prominent theater director and teacher, became the head of the theater. He led the Youth Theater until 1986. Despite the fact that Korogodsky came from the “adult” theater, the theater remained faithful to the previous ideas. The legendary “The Hunchback Horse” and “Don Quixote” were restored, and many new performances based on the works of A.S. Pushkin, A.N. Ostrovsky, W. Shakespeare, R. Kipling and F. Salten became significant events in the history of the national theater. A separate place was taken in it by such productions of Z.Ya. Korogodsky, as “Tren-bren”, “A sip of freedom”, “After the execution I ask”, “Mass-Mend”.
In the same 1962, the Youth Theater also found a new house – a building on Pionerskaya Square, which has no analogues in domestic and foreign architecture. When designing it, all the features of children’s perception were taken into account: the architecture and color scheme of the auditorium and foyer allow young viewers to feel as comfortable as possible and perceive the stage action in its entirety.
TYUZ has always been famous for its troupe. Such outstanding actors as N.K. Cherkasov, B.A. Freundlich, B.P. Chirkov, V.P. Politsemako worked in the theater. Many masters of the Russian stage began their career here: the famous director and theater teacher B.V. Zon made his debut in the Theater, the creative personalities of R.F. Lebedev, N.V. Mamaeva, N.N. Kazarinova, G.G. Taratorkina, N.I. Drobysheva, Yu.Yu. Kamorny, O.V. Volkova were formed. A.N. Shuranova, A.Y. Khochinsky, T.A. Bedova, T.B. Shestakova, N.G. Lavrov. The productions were carried out by the most famous directors – L.F. Makariev, P.K. Weisbrem, S.E. Dimant, L.A. Dodin. Many works by S.Ya. Marshak, V.P. Kataev, E.L. Schwartz, K.G. Paustovsky, M.M. Roshchin, B.Sh. Okudzhava and R.P. Pogodin began their stage history in TYUZ.
In 1969, for his services to the development of theatrical art, TYUZ was awarded the Order of Lenin. In April 1980, the theater was named after A.A. Bryantsev.
On December 22, 1996, the premiere of the play “Old World Landowners” by N.V. Gogol opened a small stage.
From 1986 to 1996, the TYUZ was headed by a graduate of GITIS, a student of M.O. Knebel A.D. Andreev. From 1996 to 1998, the post of artistic director was held by A.A. Proudin, a graduate of LGITMiK, a student of A.A. Musil. In 1999, he was replaced by S.K. Kargin, a graduate of SPbGATI, a student of L.A. Dodin. Kargin directed the theater until 2002. From 2002 to 2007, the TYUZ was headed by the laureate of the State Prize of Russia G.M. Kozlov. Two years before that, he opened a “Creative workshop” on the small stage of the Youth Theater, in which young directors and students of SPbGATI conducted theatrical searches and experiments.