From the Nazis to Russians: the History of the Severodonetsk Theatre

The theatre in Severodonetsk was the only theatre institution not only in the city but also in the entire region.

The history of the Severodonetsk theatre / photo: Severodonetsk online

The building of now-destroyed drama theatre in Severodonetsk was built as a club during Soviet times. Construction began after the end of World War II, and the project of the building was developed in Moscow according to similar projects with the «Burevisnyk» and «Slava» cinemas. And Moscow destroyed the theatre with a targeted fire in 2022.

Construction of the Severodonetsk plant club began in 1948. According to unconfirmed data, a Soviet T-34 tank shot down in 1943, is preserved in the foundation of the building. However, neither historians nor local old-timers have found confirmation of such an urban legend.

The theatre building was opened in 1952 / photo: Wikipedia

In 2001, there was a fire in the building. The local government at that time did not allocate funds for repair work, so the emergency building was not used for its intended purpose for a long time.

The drama theatre in Severodonetsk received the regional status after the first stage of the occupation of Luhansk oblast by the Russians in 2014. The theatre building was handed over to the Luhansk Regional Academic Ukrainian Music and Drama Theatre after its forced relocation from Luhansk.

During two years of a major renovation, all communications in the building were replaced: electricity, sewage, and heating system. The roof and the entrance were renovated, and the windows were replaced. The premises underwent total redevelopment, and the stucco decoration of the facade and the concert hall were preserved and restored. Also, in the auditorium, the floor was completely replaced, new furniture was installed, and a modern stage was made.

The theatre was completely renovated / photo from the theatre archive

Photo from the theatre archive

Repair work was carried out with budget funds, and the building itself was taken on balance by the region.

«The total cost of repair works was about 50 million hryvnias. It was the money left over from the budgets of the territories occupied in 2014 and the redistribution of the regional budget. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko personally approved these expenses. The renovation lasted a little over a year. The opening of the theatre took place on the eve of the Independence Day of Ukraine on August 22, 2017,» Serhii Dorofeev, head of the Luhansk Regional Ukrainian Music and Drama Theatre, told «Vchasno».

The theatre was the only theatre institution not only in the city but also in the entire region. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the theatre served as a humanitarian hub for several months: citizens who were near the front line received food, medicine, and hygiene products there. On June 22, 2022, the Russians destroyed it with targeted fire. At the moment, there is no complete information about the state of the theatre, so it will be possible to talk about the prospects of its restoration only after the deoccupation of the city.

According to the Ministry of Culture, in total, during the year of the full-scale war, the occupiers destroyed 9 theatres and philharmonic halls, and the same number have been damaged so far — in Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv oblasts and in Kyiv. As a result of Russian aggression in Ukraine, 1,189 objects of cultural infrastructure were damaged, and 446 objects (almost a third) were completely destroyed.

Theatre in Severodonetsk now / photo: Severodonetsk online

This news was created by the «Vchasno» news agency as part of the IWPR program «Supporting regional media of Ukraine during the war» with the financial support of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The content of the material is the sole responsibility of «Vchasno» and does not reflect the views of the British Government or the Institute of War and Peace Reporting.

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