The Tajik government wants to tear down the fabled Mayakovsky Theater. But it’s not going anywhere without a fight. Read the full story here.
I was exceptionally lucky to spend last Sunday photographing and speaking with the cast and crew of Dushanbe’s Mayakovsky Theater. The building itself is a true piece of history: Built around 1925 as the Dom Kolkhoznika, it was where the treaty officially incorporating Tajikistan as a Soviet Socialist Republic was signed. The theater company is another story. In the 1970s and 80s, they were hailed as one of the premier Russian-language troupes in the USSR. Their capacity was damaged by the civil war of the 90s, but they rebuilt and began touring Europe again in the early 2000s. Today, many Dushanbinci pass the notoriously pink neo-classical building every day on their way to work. It’s as much a part of the city as the statue of Ismoili Somoni, or the view of the mountains to the north.
Now, the Tajik government wants to tear down the theater as part of a massive city planning scheme targeted at Soviet-era buildings. The theater staff, their supporters, and Dushanbe residents are fighting tooth and nail against an autocratic government to save their theater. It’s a story that’s inspiring, but also tragicomic — it’s unlikely their efforts will result in any action.
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