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The Ilkhom theatre

The Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil is the only professional independent performing arts organization in Uzbekistan was founded in 1976 by legendary director Mark Weil. The Ilkhom Theatre has always been known as a destination of intellectuals’ pilgrimage, a place of concentration and creating of modern cultural environment. The Ilkhom has never been a political figure; nevertheless, this fact didn’t prevent the theatre and its artistic director from being blamed for non-conformism in the years of stagnation in 1980s as well as from being ignored by the power and state bodies supporting culture in the post-Soviet years. From its beginning, the theatre was founded on a jazz structure where the director creates an ensemble consisting of participants who understand and listen to each other.

At the present the Ilkhom Theatre remains the only theatre collective in Central Asia with the ability to realize the most ambitious projects, while retaining its political and artistic independence.

Today, only a few people can remember that everything began from a rather strange play from that time called Maskhoroboz-76 which was made in the tradition of street theatre. With that play, the founders of the Ilkhom went to Novgorod, Russia. It was the first trial of a new kind of professional actor working in the circumstances - the circumstances of immediate improvisation.

From the very beginning, the theatre was named ESTY, the Ilkhom (Experimental Studio of Theatrical Youth actors, artists, musicians, and theatricals). Such young playwrights as A. Vampilov, S. Zlotnikov, Sh. Bashbekov, Ch. Guseinov, and L. Razumovskaya debuted in the young "Ilkhom", and were later hailed as new-wave playwrights. Meeting with the playwrights of that generation has become one of the best ways of self-expression for the actors.

Today this cultural center presents up to 200 performances for more than 25000 spectators a year, runs the whole number of international festival and music programs, the organization’s exhibition space operates up to 8-10 art, photo, visual arts expositions and installations, educational programs of the company outreach wide spectrum of young professionals in visual and performing arts.

The years have passed. In 1985 arrived the time of independence and freedom. By that time the Ilkhom had become famous, as a real independent theatre which usually is ahead of its time.

During that period, 1985 - 1990, the theatre all at once lost its interest in traditional plays and sank into mime theatre. It has become a visual theatre of metaphor and clownery. It was the beginning of the new Ilkhom. The actors playing in "Ragtime for clowns", "Clomadeus", and "Petrushka" brought energy and the feeling of this new time to the theatre.

Beginning in May, 1989 the theatre has been called simply the Ilkhom theatre. Today, the Ilkhom is a complex, which includes a theatre, school of drama and exhibition hall.

From 1989, the year of the founding its own drama school, the next, third stage of the Ilkhom's life began. The graduation project of the 1st studio (1993) became the play which united all the generations of the theatre. It was a fantasy play about Samarkand, based on C. Gozzi's "Happy Beggars", where the directors of the play could assimilate the traditions of del'arte comedy with "Maskhoroboz" - traditional national Uzbek comedy. It was the continuation of the theatre's traditions and the beginning of a new time in the Ilkhom.

Today's repertoire of the theatre is no less interesting than that during its foundation. At first sight, it seems to consist of the "classical theatre heritage", but indeed it is so extraordinary that the reaction of the public differs from absolute shock to rapture. The value of the repertoire is in its variety.

Recent premieres include: "Imitations of The Koran" by A. Pushkin; "Love's Labors Lost", a comedy by W. Shakespeare, the musical comedy "The Portrait of Mademoiselle Tarjee" by I. Elagin, the psychological drama "The Brothers & Liza", by A. Kazatsev, and a provoking, intense play, which includes several works of A. Pushkin, called "Romance Unleashed" (originally titled "Eugenie Onegin"*). Before that performance, "Ubu Rex" by A. Jarri, which was the first premiere in the CIS of such a basic play in the arena of World Theatre, was held. Also, the Ilkhom staged a deep poetic version of an unknown and unpublished work "White White Black Stork" written by the famous Uzbek novelist A. Kadyri, who was persecuted after World War II; a classical tragedy of world theatre "Blood Wedding" by Lorca; an "Art" comedy and bestseller of world repertoire by Yasmina Reza; and a co-project with the British Council, ON Theatre and the Ilkhom Theatre, a production of "On Love" (a documentary of love stories).

In the repertoire of today's theatre there are several plays which are still popular, despite their age. Among them are: "Petty Bourgeois Wedding" by Bertold Brecht, "Happy Beggars" by Carlo Gozzi, "Tortilla Flat" by John Steinbeck, and "Medea" by Euripides.

The Ilkhom theatre is still traditionally inviting new talents and mature actors, musicians and playwrights from different cities, theatre schools, and conservatories to work together.

Every month in the Ilkhom, there are diverse exhibitions, charitable plays, concerts and video-programs of the theatre. For the last ten years, the Ilkhom Theatre has taken part in more than 20 international theatre festivals in the United States, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, and Germany. In 1993, the Ilkhom initiated and took an active part in the "Theatre: East and West" International festival in Tashkent. Mark Weil was the artistic director of the festival. Annually, from April 30 till May 1, the theatre organizes an International Festival of Contemporary Music and Theatre, "Ilkhom XX". Music and theatre companies from more than 10 countries: Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Italy, China, Russia, USA, Switzerland, etc. have participated in it.

The festival of the Theatre and Music festival "Ilkhom: East/West" was held from the end of January till the beginning of May 2001. It was a poly-stylistic festival, which took place in a period of more than three months, coinciding with the repertoire of the Ilkhom Theatre. The premiere of the recent work "Imitations of The Koran" by A. Pushkin, was presented at the Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen Europaisches Festival in May 2002.

There are English subtitles!

Address:                       5, Pakhtakorskaya Str., Tashkent, 100047
Reference point:            Pakhtakor stadium, Shodlik Palace Hotel
Phone:                         (+998 71) 242-22-41, 242-22-52, 244-04-03
E-mail:                          [email protected], [email protected]

Plays begin:                  18:30
Day off:                        Monday