The 18th Century Hall

The 18th Century Hall

Starting with the end of the 19th century, more and more performances dedicated to the events of the 18th century appeared on the Alexandrinsky Stage. Performances dedicated to the memory of Catherine the Great made a significant portion of those: one hundred years after her death was celebrated in 1896. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Alexandrinsky Theatre staged P. Gnedich’s play The Assembly dedicated to the epoch of Peter the Great, and later on, a play by Yu. Belyayev entitled A Red Pub was sending the audience back into the times of Anna Ioannovna. All these performances inspired the artists to create an entire collection of costumes from the 18th century, many of which (though partially re-tailored) have been preserved up to present day.

During the Soviet times, the 18th century had incessantly been in the focus of attention of dramatists and directors. Two editions of A. Tolstoy’s Peter the First were created in the 1930s; besides the first Russian Emperor, many historical personages of his supporters and contemporaries were impersonated. In the two editions of the performance the roles of Peter the Great were correspondingly played by Ya. Malyutin and N. Cherkasov. In the second half of the 1930s, a play Suvorov by I. Bakhterev and A. Razumovsky appeared on the Alexandrinsky Stage with K. Skorobogatov as the main character. The public could see many aldermen and commanders of the Catherine times next to the great Field Marshall. This performance, beloved by the public, was renewed after the World War II under the name Commander Suvorov. A collection of the 18th century costumes with its rich camisoles of aldermen, gowns of the court ladies, and the military uniforms of the Peter and Catherine’s times make a huge part of the male and female wardrobes. This collection was complimented in the 1980s – 1990s, when such performances as the Captain’s Daughter by A. Pushkin and A Saga of the Tzar Peter and His Slain Son Alexey by F. Gorenshtein had been produced.  

The same is true about the furniture and the accessories. The collection of the 18th century items had been permanently supplemented in the course of the previous century. The weapons (sables, swords) without which a nobleman, and even more so, a military man could not imagine his life, played a very special role. Collecting the genuine samples of weapons, the theatre’s master shops produced purely stage analogues of those. Both genuine and stage property pieces are represented in the exhibit.