The theater was named Zapolyarny and ceased existing three years later, though leaving the first stationary city theater in Igarka instead.
The date of the foundation of the First Zapolyarny theater is 1936. The second Zapolyarny appeared in Norilsk in 1941. Letters from its first director helped to restore the initial period of the theater in Norilsk before its 50th anniversary.
Grigory Borodenko directed the Second Polar Theater from September 25, 1941 to October 28, 1947. In 1987 he turned 76 years old, and lived by this time in Alushta. In his messages, first to the theater, and then to the museum, Borodenko spoke in detail about how the northernmost theater began. The story was illustrated with programs and photographs from the negatives he kept. In the theater from the first days, a photo laboratory was organized, and the director himself was the photographer.
So, Borodenko made the now famous photograph of the first troupe after the rehearsal of Gorky’s play At the Bottom, keeping the names of all its participants. One of them, hairdresser Pavel Korkin (far left in the second row in the photo below), handed over the program of that performance to the museum. The program itself from 1942 lists 16 performers, while the first troupe consisted of only 13 people. It is clear that the director, the hairdresser, and even the prisoner Alexey Tagaev (the far left in the front row) played. He was taken to the play under escort for the role of Tatar.
Pavel Korkin, who has preserved the rarity, came to Norilsk from Igarka, where he had begun in the very First Polar Theater. He was well acquainted with the prima of the Maly Theater, Vera Pashennaya, who organized the theater in Igarka. According to his recollections, the actress was also a talented artist and she herself painted the scenery for some performances. It was she who suggested that the theatrical carpenter Korkin should move to the dressing room, determining the further fate of the honored cultural worker. Korkin studied makeup from the masters of the Maly Theater, who came to the performances.
From the Norilsk period Pavel Korkin singled out the history of the first tour of the Norilsk actors to Dudinka and Dikson, which almost coincided with the attack of the German battleship Admiral Scheer. In addition to the performances in the Dixon sailors’ club, which were attended by Soviet, American and British sailors, the artists took part in the meeting with the audience on the Sedov icebreaker (or Ermak, Pavel did not remember exactly). On the way back, the ship with the guest performers almost came under fire from the Admiral Scheer heading for Dixon.
Pavel Korkin left Norilsk a little earlier than Borodenko and for many years served at the Krasnoyarsk Regional Drama Theater named after Pushkin. He taught make-up and costume history at the theater departments of the Krasnoyarsk School of Arts. In 1944, a new Igarka replenishment came to the theater, linking the First and Second Zapolyarny, until the closure of the First one.
Grigory Borodenko, thanks to whom the theater’s true history was restored to the half-century anniversary of the Norilsk drama, died a year before the theater’s milestone date and his own 80th birthday.
Top photo: artists at the sports parade in Norilsk, 1946.
Text: Valentina Vachaeva, Photo: Norilsk Museum