The theater community against the authorities’ control over the “Golden Mask”

The theater community against the authorities’ control over the “Golden Mask”

Theatrical directors Kama Ginkas and Henrietta Yankovskaya wrote an open letter to the chairman of the Union of Theater Workers of Russia, Alexander Kalyagin, in which they criticized the decision to place the “Golden Mask” theater award under the control of the Ministry of Culture of Russia.

“What does the Ministry of Culture have to do with this? They give titles, orders. You are the STD – the Union of Theater Workers! That is, a purely public organization!” – says the emotional text of the appeal published by the “Teatr” portal.

On August 28, at a meeting of the Union of Theater Actors, Alexander Kalyagin announced the creation of a new executive directorate of the “Golden Mask”, headed by a member of the “United Russia” party, Vladimir Mysharin, as well as changes to the regulations on the award. Among the innovations – the reduction of a number of nominations and the control of the decisions of the jury and the expert council by the Ministry of Culture and the head of the SDT. He will be able to change the lists of the expert council, jury and nominees at his discretion.

This post has been held since 1996 by Alexander Kalyagin, a member of “United Russia” and Vladimir Putin’s confidant since 2012. Kalyagin supports the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. Last year, he demanded that Mikhail Durnenkov be expelled from the SDT for his anti-war statements.

One of the nominations, which is planned to be abandoned in the new provision for the “Golden Mask” award, was “Best Playwright’s Work”. In 2022, this award went to Svetlana Petriychuk, who is currently in pretrial detention on charges of publicly justifying terrorism. The reason for initiating the criminal case was the play “Finist Yasnyi Sokol”, directed by Evgenia Berkovich, based on the play Petriychuk. She is also arrested in this case.

Kalyagin, as the head of a professional association, has never spoken out about the Berkovich and Petriychuk case.

On August 28, a petition of theater workers against the destruction of the “Golden Mask” was published on the “Petersburg Theater Journal” website.

The authors of the appeal wanted to preserve the independent expert council and professional jury and their annual rotation according to clear and transparent rules. They also spoke in favor of preserving all the current nominations, and decisions on the possible cancellation of any of them should be made only after extensive discussion.

  • The Golden Mask Theater Award and Festival is a Russian public project established by the Union of Theater Artists in 1993. The prize is awarded on a competitive basis once an hour for achievements in all genres of theatrical art: drama, opera, ballet and modern dance, operetta and musical, puppet theater, experiment. Among the laureates were those who publicly criticized the Russian authorities, such as Kirill Serebrennikov.
  • After the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian authorities began to persecute, including cultural figures, who opposed the war. Hundreds of directors, actors, musicians and artists faced the impossibility of engaging in professional activities in Russia and were forced to leave the country. The names of playwrights and directors who spoke out against the war are removed from repertoires and removed from posters.

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