Norilsk Drama Theater celebrates two anniversaries this year
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Norilsk Drama Theater celebrates two anniversaries this year

July 21, 2021

Grigory Borodenko, who organized the Second Polar Theater in Norilsk in 1941, was born on July 18, 1911 in Omsk.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. At the age of 26, a high school graduate with a pedagogical bias became an actor in a theater at the Krasnoyarsk Railwaymen’s House of Culture.

Grigory Borodenko, 1946

In 1941, with the knowledge of the regional arts department, Borodenko assembled a private troupe to work in Norilsk, where, on the initiative of the combine and the camp head Alexander Panyukov, they decided to create a second professional theater beyond the Arctic Circle by analogy with Igarka.

Actors, artistic director, artists were among those who could not be sent to the front. Borodenko became not only the first director of the Norilsk drama, but also an actor, accountant and its first historiographer.

For the 50th anniversary of the theater, Grigory Borodenko wrote memoirs about the first decade of the Second Zapolyarny. From which it became known that the official opening of the northernmost drama was in March 1942, and the first season started in the winter of 1941.

From his letters it also became known that in the fall of 1941 the troupe without money and belongings traveled from Krasnoyarsk to Dudinka by the last steamer.

According to Borodenko’s recollections, in 1941 the premises of the former canteen of the second camp department were equipped for the theater. A stage, dressing rooms, and service rooms were attached to it. The troupe prepared two performances for the opening: The Hostess of the Hotel by Goldoni and The Gardens are Blooming by Mass and Kulichenko. However, Grigory soon abandoned the entreprise. A bank account was opened, the actors began to receive solid salaries depending on the category, and the regional arts department had just to accept the fact.

The first season of the Second Zapolyarny ended with a tour in Dudinka and Dikson. On the way back, the lighter with the artists, by pure chance, did not come under fire from the German battleship Admiral Scheer.
Under Borodenko, the theater received a building on Gornaya Street, the troupe was replenished with new artists. At that time, the Second Zapolyarny became ‘a mixed theater of drama and musical comedy’.

In 1947 Grigory Borodenko left Norilsk. Valentin Kovtsur brought his name back from oblivion in the 1990s.

In the last issue of the History spot photo project, we talked about the fact that the name of Zavenyagin was given to the Norilsk Combine in 1957.

For other issues of our photo project about the history of the city and the combine, go to the History spot section.

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Text: Valentina Vachaeva, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

July 21, 2021

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