History

History

 

The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan

The newspaper “Novoye obozrenie” (November 12, 1897) writes: “For the first time, the Union of Artists is organized in Baku and this union numbers up to 300 actors and theatre lovers. The membership fee is 6 rubles per year. "
Gulam Mammadli. “Chronicle of the Azerbaijani theatre. 1850-1920”. p.82

 

The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan is the oldest creative organization in the Caucasus. Being founded at the end of the 19thcentury, this union along with Azerbaijani stage masters, also unites many foreign actors who worked in Baku atthat time.

The Union was founded in 1897 under the name “Union of Artists”. Later it continued its activity as the “Union of Muslim Artists” (1917), “Union of Turkic Actors” (1920),“Azerbaijan Theatre Society” (1945). On February 27th, 1987, by the decision of the founding conference, the name was changed to “The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan” and remains as such ever since.

Theatrical associations and societies, that were predecessors of the Union were led by enlighteners, such as Sultan Majid Ganizade, Abdurrahim bey Hagverdiyev, Habib Bey Mahmudbeyov, brothers Uzeyir Hajibeyli and Zulfugar Hajibeyov, Abbas Mirza Sharifzade and etc.

Later the Theatre Society was led by Shovkat Mammadova, Rza Tahmasib, Marziyya Davudova, Mustafa Mardanov,Mehdi Mammadov, Shamsi Badalbeyli, Lutfiyar Imanov and Hasanaga Turabov.  For the time being, Azer Pasha Nematov is the chairman of The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan.

This public association, which began its activity at the end of the 19thcentury as a small community, starting with the 50s of the last century was transformed into an organization with a high potential which stimulated the theatrical process and the development of theatre in our country.

Nowadays, The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan, based on its Charter, implements projects that have a direct impact on the further development of the national theatrical process, forms relations with culture related state institutions, creative unions and associations, scientific and educational institutions (on the basis of existing legislations), establishes international relations. The union also frequently works with young people, along withorganising memorial days, perpetuating the names of the deceased masters, producing performances on big and small stages.Just like with its predecessor – Azerbaijan Theatre Society, the publishing of culture related printed materials remains asone of the main activities of the union.

Actively participating in the national theatrical process, The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan, during its many years of activity, held a number of events that left a mark in the history Azerbaijani culture, organized various theatre festivals, competitions and exhibitions. Among such events is the ASSITEJ festival, which wasfirst held in Azerbaijan in 1968 at the initiative and as a result of the hard work of the outstanding artists: Mustafa Mardanov and Zafar Nematov. This festival has put the world spotlight on Azerbaijan.

Since the end of the last century, four mono-performance festivals, two “Him-Jim” (Pantomime) festivals, two experimental performance festivals, two “2+1” experimental theatre festivals, “Festival of Festivals”, the festival of “National Classics”, the Republican Festival of Young Directors “New theatre” in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture, the Festival of Children’s Performances, the “Silk Road” phase of the International Chekhov Festival, two “Filling of the empty space” festivals, artistic reading competitions dedicated to outstanding elocutionists Hasan Abluj and Mukhlis Janizade, “I Biennale Exhibition of Theatre Designers” and other large-scale events created a revival in theatrical life and boosted the formation of talented youth.

To inspire creative people, a number of awards were instituted on the initiative of the chairman of the Union, Azer Pasha Nematov.  The “Qizil Dervish” (“Golden Dervish”) award, “Teatr Xadimi” (“Thearical Figure”) gold and silver medals, the “Sehne Ishiqi” (“Stage Light”) prize, the”Senetkar” (“Master”) medal and other awards were presented to creative people for their priceless contributions to the history of the theatre.

The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan pays special attention to the development of new theatres, increasing their creative potential, offering moral support in their work and providing young talents with the opportunity to demonstrate their potential. The Pantomime State Theatre, created on the basis of the theatre studio “Deliler Yigincagi” (“Assemble of madmen”), which performed at the “Him-Jim” festival organized by the Union, the State Youth Theatre, Baku Camera Theatre, “YUG” State Theatre, Baku Puppet Theatre and other groups try to keep up with the requirements of themodern society as well as bring fresh air into the world of national theatre, using progressivedirections of the contemporary theatre.

The Union also pays special attention to the field of publishingand has  recently made a significant amount of progress in this area, which is important for the promotion of national theatrical art. “The World of Azerbaijani Theatre” was published in Azerbaijani, Russian and English languages. Also were published,books from the “Pages of Life” series, dedicated to the 100thjubilees ofreknowned personalities such as: a prominent actor and director, People’s Artist Shamsi Badalbeyli, People’s Artist and director Maharram Hashimov, People’s Artist of the USSR Hokuma Gurbanova, People’s Writer, playwright Ilyas Efendiyev, People’s Artist of the USSR Gamar Almaszade, a prominent actress, People’s Artist Nasiba Zeynalova. Published works also include: the research work of the famous theatre expert Nelli Korniyenko “Ukrainian Theatre on Threshold of the Third Millennium” translated into many foreign languages, “About director’s work” (new edition for latin alphabet) by Mehdi Mammadov, People’s Artist of the USSR and Zafar Nematov, Honoured Figure of Arts. These books were distributed to various international organizations and libraries in the country. The book, published on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the People’s Writer Ilyas Efendiyev, was presented to the participants of the event held by UNESCO, at celebration of the playwright’s anniversary in Paris.

One of the important contributions of the Union to the development of the theatre was the creation of the theatre-studio “Zafar” in 2008 and the first performance-anthropesisin Azerbaijan, made by People’s Artist, professor Azer Pasha Nematov - “Ali and Nino” by G. Said, “Timon of Athens” and “The Twelfth Night” by W. Shakespeare which resonated with the local audience.

Creating a stage named after a renowned personality, People’s Artist Mustafa Mardanov in 2014, is an example of a valuable contribution to the development of the national theatre process. “My Memories, My Contemporaries” – a play by Mustafa Mardanovwas presented to the audience on the opening ceremony of the stage on the occasion of the master’s 120th anniversary. Also were featured: “Runaway old men” (E.Huseynbeyli), “Chairs” (E.Ionesco), “End of the Ending” (R.Agayev), “Death of the Actor” (M.Gavran) and other performances. Memorial days, anniversaries, meetings and other events of various forms were also held on the stage. The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan keeps the development of creative youth at the centre of its attention and provides them with opportunities to fulfil their potential and participate in international projects.

The Union, which always supports new beginnings, has opened laboratories for young playwrights, actors, directors and theatre critics. Participants took part in master-classes from famous masters, on the recommendation of the Union. Young students of the labs participated in the theatre Forum of the CIS countries, the Baltic States and Georgia in different years. Creative samples of young playwrights, theatre critics, directors and designers were published in the Moscow edition of the International Confederation of Theatre Unions.

The festival of performances of young directors who were trained in the Theatre Director Lab was presented to the audience and the Expert Council of the International Confederation of Theatre Unions, and all of them were successfully accepted.

The participants of the play “Wise Old Birds” by E. Huseinbeyli, staged in the framework of the laboratory, were noted with great success at international theatre festivals.

Under the leadership of the President of the Azerbaijan National Centre of the UNESCO International Theatre Institute, Azer Pasha Nematov, The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan achieved significant success in the field of international relations, participated in congresses and symposiums held by the International Theatre Institute and cooperated with the International Confederation of Theatre Unions. At the initiative of the Union, theatre lovers of the capital had the opportunity to enjoy three spectacular performances from around the world: “Aurelia’s oratorio” from France, the Eluaz circus “The Rain” performance, as well as the joint Russian-Belarusian performance “The Wedding” of the Belarusian Academic Drama Theatre.

The Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan, which was founded in the 60s of the last century under the auspices of the national leader - HeydarAliyev, with the organizational activities of People’s Artist Mustafa Mardanov and Honoured Figure of Arts Zafar Nematov, continues its activity to this day.The building of the Union was built at the expense of the Union itself and commissioned in 1971 (Khagani Street, 16, Baku).

The heads and staff of the Union of Theatre Workers of Azerbaijan, standing by the historical traditions, have always been at the forefront of the historical struggle to preserve the national cultural heritage, passing it on from one generation to another, and will continue its efforts in the development of performing arts, which is an important part of our national culture.