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Documenting of the Theatre Heritage”. Conference Report.

In November 27-29, 2012, Russian State Art Library in association with State Institute of Art Studies and Bakhrushin Central State Theatre Museum held a conference dedicated to “Documenting of the Theatre Heritage”.

More than 200 specialists took part in the Conference during the three days. Among participating organizations were – Scientific Library of State Tretyakov Gallery, Saint-Petersburg State Theatre Library, Russian Institute of Art History, Russian Book Chamber, GITIS Institute and more. 39 researchers made presentations, including 13 foreign specialists from Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, the Ukraine, France, Czech Republic and Estonia.

The program of the Conference in 2012 was highly informative as in the year of its 90th anniversary the Library has set the target to run a large-scale scientific symposium (as opposed to regular conferences that are held by the Library on a yearly basis) that could cover a wide range of aspects - such as history of theatre and book collections, archives, problems of their use and storage; using theatre document in modern scientific practice, problems of stagecraft, etc. The Conference took place in three locations: on the territory of State Institute of Art Studies, in the Ermolova Memorial House (affiliated to Bakhrushin Central State Theatre Museum) and in the Russian State Art Library.

The Conference was open on November, 27th at the State Institute of Art Studies by D.V. Trubochkin, the Director of the Institute, D.V. Rodionov, the director of Bakhrushin Museum and A.A. Kolganova, the director of the Russian State Art Library. They made a point of the Conference criticality, described the targets set by the organizers of the Conference and explained why the choice of participants was so rigorously controlled. The opening session was presented by D.V. Rodionov and was dedicated to “The problem of saving the theatre heritage: documenting and conservation”. The presentations covered such issues as theoretic and methodological understanding of the problem, the specifics of study and analysis of the theatre document, the experience in saving theatre heritage in libraries, archives and museums.

 The second session took place in RSAL and in its Blue hall it was preceded by opening ceremony of the exhibition “People, books, theatre: from the history of Federal Art Library”. The exhibition was organized to celebrate the very first decade of the Library functioning and its founding figures. The subject of the session – “The questions of theatre stagecraft” – concerned the documenting as one of the most important aspects of the stagecraft that has not been discussed in the frames of scientific discourse until recently. The session was presented by L.S. Oves,  Ph.D. in History of Arts, Head of the Theatrical Division at the Russian Institute of the History of Arts. Discussion area “Artist and theatre” was organized after the session took place and was mastered by art-director V.I. Shilkrot. He suggested that the participants would answer the question: how to keep documenting and archiving artistic work at the theatre when most contemporary theatrical artists use information technologies in their work? It is important to note that the format of discussion area was used by the Library in the frames of international scientific conference for the first time and it was a success as during the discussion the participants could give their opinions and exchange their views on many serious matters.

 On the second day the conference session was run at the Ermolova Memorial House and was dedicated to “Theatre document in modern scientific practice”. The session was mastered by V.V. Ivanov, Doctor of History of Arts, Head of the Theatrical Division of the State Institute of History of Arts. The presentations covered various topics and through the context of history and art referred to theatre document as to critical information media of a historical event or cultural figure.

 In the evening the participants of the Conference together with the friends of RSAL were invited to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Library. The festive event took place on the New stage of Nikitsky Gates Theatre, ally to the Library. After the speech of G.P. Ivliev, State Secretary, Deputy Minister of Culture, the first to congratulate the Library was V.M. Beilis, People’s Artist of Russia, Stage Director, Head of theatre workshop at the Shchepkin  Higher Theatre School. Among the congratulors were the long-stand readers – theatre artists B.A. Messerer and V.A. Volsky, theatre historian B.M. Poyurovsky, president of Moscow Art Theatre School A.M. Smelyansky and also long-term partners of the Library – V.V. Fedorov - president of the Russian State Library, V.R. Firsov -  Deputy General Director of the Russian National Library, President of Russian Library Association, E.Y. Genieva – General Director of the All-Russian State Library for Foreign Literature named after M.I. Rudomino, Y.L. Shreiberg – General Director of the Russian Public Scientific and Technical Library, A.G. Gai – Director of Saint-Petersburg State Theatre Library, V.P. Nechaev – Director of Central Scientific Library for Theatre Union, S.V. Semikolenova – Deputy General Director of the State Central Theatre Museum named after A.A. Bakhrushin, I.A. Averianova – editor-in-chief of the “Library” magazine and many other friends and partners of RSAL. The end of the festive event was marked by the famous musical play of Nikitsky Gates Theatre - “Songs of our communal flat”.

 The Conference final part took place on the third day in the building of RSAL. First part of the day was given to the session dedicated to the problem of “Creation and use of theatre collections and electronic resources in specialized library”. The leading speaker of the session was A.I. Reitblat, Ph.D. in Pedagogy, Head of Rare Book Division of RSAL. General scope of presentations was dedicated to the history of RSAL and creative development of the Library’s founding figures – A.A. Fomin and P.P. Pashkov, who contributed with their diverse activity to the start-up of RSAL as well as to the national cultural evolution as a whole.

 The last session covered extremely vital and actual subject – “Theatre heritage in digital environment” and was lead by D.V. Trubochkin, Doctor of Arts, Director of the State Institute of Art Studies. The problem of theatre heritage interaction with modern information technologies has not been thoroughly studied yet, so it was the first time when it was covered in the context of general problematic. Thus number of speakers was less than that of the previous sessions, however all presentations aroused much interest among the participants of the Conference because they demonstrated new approach to the issues of documenting and conserving theatre document, the approach destined to discover infinite possibilities of information technologies.

 Although the Conference ended on November, 29th, the Library organized one more professional event – the excursion to Mosfilm on November, 30th. The excursion included visiting “Mosfilm-info” information centre, film shooting rooms and Mosfilm Museum.

 The Conference of 2012 can be definitely considered as a special event in terms of format and the range of questions discussed. Many of these questions were brought up for discussion to researchers – theatre historians, librarians, archive specialists – for the first time. There was a good reason for it – the Library aimed to celebrate the anniversary by holding a serious scientific conference, as it should be with the organization of such level and specialization.