Krymov was one of the first to suffer: the Moscow Department of Culture banned the showing of seven of his plays in theaters within its purview. This was done informally, as the theater management did not confirm a ban but did not advertise the performances either. Even the private company of Leonid Roberman refused to stage two Krymov performances, Dvoe
and Boris Godunov
. Both were a joint project with the Museum of Moscow, a state-funded cultural institution.
Meanwhile, in theaters within the purview of the federal bureaucracy, including the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater and the Theater of Nations, Krymov's plays are still running. On the other hand, after Serebrenikov's flight abroad, his ballet Nureyev
disappeared from the repertoire of the Bolshoi Theater.
This could be attributed to an intensification of intolerant attitudes toward LGBT+ issues, though at the same time the opera Don Pasquale
, staged by the “unreliable” Dmitri Chernyakov, was also canceled. A play based on Dmitri Glukhovsky's novel Text
was also removed from the Yermolova Theater (Glukhovsky
has been a vocal critic of the regime and left Russia after the outbreak of hostilities), as was a play based on Guzel Yakhina
’s Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes
at the Bashkir Drama Theater. Both novels topped bestseller lists and received numerous awards.Censorship without censors
Still, theaters are quite reluctant to remove plays from their repertoires, citing the fact that state money was spent on the production, so removing it would punish the entire team for one person. Thus, if it is directors or playwrights fingered for “anti-Russian positions,” the production may remain in the repertoire if their names are simply removed from advertising; however, if it is performers or actors who can’t be replaced (like in the play Gorbachev
, where the central role of Raisa Gorbacheva was played by Chulpan Khamatova), then the production is removed altogether. Duma Deputy Dmitri Gusev laid things out
plainly: “We just want to take state money away from those who speak bad about that state yet receive budget-funded salaries.” In other words, the Russian government sees the performing arts as a privilege, an opportunity to use state resources for self-expression.
In the programs of the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater for Serebrennikov's Forest
and Alexander Molochnikov's 19.14
, the word "Director” has replaced their names. The name of Krymov, the creator of the play Seryozha
(based on Tolstoy's Anna Karenina
), is listed neither on the website of the Moscow Art Theater, nor in the program. The Vakhtangov Theater puts on the plays of its former artistic director Rimas Tuminas, who went back to Lithuania, without mentioning his name. At the Russian Academic Youth Theater, the two plays based on Boris Akunin novels no longer bear his name (Akunin, one of the most popular Russian writers, has long lived abroad).
The same tactics have been used at a number of other theaters, including the Bolshoi in Moscow, the Mariinsky in St Petersburg and the Opera House in Yekaterinburg – performances are put on without mentioning the names of objectionable producers and directors.