The Okhlopkov Theater in Irkutsk (or the Irkutsk Academic Dramatic Theater named for Okhlopkov) is the main dramatic theater in Irkutsk, and the oldest theater in Eastern Siberia. The theater’s directors are understandably proud of their long heritage, as well as their current efforts to promote and develop culture in Irkutsk.
Theater is really popular in Irkutsk—it is the cultural capital of Siberia, after all!—and tickets sell out fast; you’ll have to book about a month in advance to be sure you’ll get the tickets you want. It’s a repertoire theater, though, so shows cycle in and out, and you’ll always be able to find something good.
I attended Retro with my fellow SRASers this past week, and was pretty delighted. The theater itself is ridiculously beautiful, inside and out—I’ve heard it’s partially modeled after the Bolshoi Teatr in Moscow, but the one in Irkutsk is much more colorful. If you sit in the second level or higher, and you go with enough people, you’ll get a little box to yourself (they’re called ложа, a word I did not know in either English or Russian, and the woman who took our tickets thought we were idiots because we couldn’t figure out where to go—just to warn you). Anyway, it worked out in the end and I felt very much like a tsaritsa in the theater box, despite my jeans.
I almost feel like attending the theater in Irkutsk is mandatory, no matter what the play is—I did like what we saw, and understood a pretty good amount (though there’s nothing like the entire theater around you laughing and you having no idea why)—but just being there, listening to the language in a beautiful place, is definitely a worthwhile experience.
(Иркутский академический драматический театр им. Н.П.Охлопкова)
ul. Karla Marksa 14
Tickets from 100 to 500 rubles
Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.