Theater directors Kama Ginkas and Henrietta Yanovskaya wrote an open letter to the chairman of the Union theatrical figures of Russia Alexander Kalyagin. In it, they criticized the decision to reorganize the Golden Mask Award, making it controlled by the Ministry of Culture. Their entire appeal is published by the Teatr portal.
“What happened to you? You are such a great artist and smart person. You, who have been working all your life in theater and to the Theatre, how could you go for it? “How could you think of something like that?!” And if someone thought you up, then, of course, this Someone is the devil and is definitely an enemy of you and the theater! How can one destroy what was born under M. Ulyanov, grew up as an intra-theatrical, social phenomenon? What does the Ministry of Culture have to do with it? They give titles, orders. You are STD – UNION OF THEATER WORKERS! That is, a purely intra-social organization!” – says the emotional text of the appeal.
“And if I understand correctly, it is proposed, together with the Ministry of Culture, to carry out a non-rotational appointment of an expert council and a jury. What does it mean? This means that we must depend from year to year on the taste developed by this group. Time is running. Time changes theater. Tastes change, ideas about theater change. There can be no non-rotating expert council and jury.”
On August 28, at a meeting of the Union of Theater Workers, Alexander Kalyagin announced the creation of a new executive directorate of the Golden Mask, which will be headed by Vladimir Misharin, a member of the United Russia party, and amendments to the regulation on the award. Among the innovations is the reduction of a number of nominations and the controllability of the decisions of the jury and the expert council to the head of the STD and the Ministry of Culture.
On August 1, the artistic director of the Chamber Theater in Voronezh, director Mikhail Bychkov, published an open letter on the social network to the Union of Theater Workers criticizing the new situation, and on August 28, a petition of theater workers against the destruction of the Golden Mask was published on the website of the Petersburg Theater Journal.
Theater critic Zhanna Zaretskaya notes that due to the reorganization of the “Mask” as an award, “it will completely lose its weight in a professional environment”:
“In the current impulse to dance court dances, the Union of Theater Workers risks losing the community. Nevertheless, I note that the information on the STD website about the reorganization of the Mask was not signed by Kalyagin, although he is mentioned there as a person who held a meeting where he discussed the upcoming changes, but by a faceless press service. Kalyagin has been silent for a long time – he is silent about what the leader of a professional association, it seems, cannot be silent about. In particular, about the case of director Yevgenia Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petriychuk, who are in a pre-trial detention center on a case of terrorism on the fact of not some actions, but a play and a performance. But Kalyagin is silent, and the community, on the contrary, has begun to speak. And the trigger for the first mass protest of the people of the theater since February 2022 was just the news of changes in the position of the Mask.
The Golden Mask theater award and festival is a Russian public project established by the Union of Theater Workers of the Russian Federation in 1993. The award is awarded on a competitive basis once a year based on the results of the past theatrical season for creative achievements in the field of theatrical art, it is awarded to performances of all genres of theatrical art: drama, opera, ballet and modern dance, operetta and musical, puppet theater, experiment.
Founder and artistic director of the Moscow theater “Et Cetera”, chairman of the Union of Theater Workers of Russia since 1996. Member of the Public Chamber of Russia (2006–2012). Member of the United Russia party (2003).