Directing for drama

The annual graduation of theatre directors began in our institute in 1926, making it the first institution of higher learning in the world to teach the directing profession. The school of directing was set up by Vsevolod Meyerhold and his closest associates, successors and students – Vladimir Solovyov, Sergei Radlov, Leonid Vivien.

90 years of uninterrupted practice in teaching directors has led to the development of an elaborate method that has been passed on from generation to generation, taking into account the spirit of theatre contemporary to each.

The school’s principles are a combination of active analysis, etudes and working with actors in accordance with the Stanislavsky system.

Students are taught to analyze dramatic texts as a system of events and active motives, develop alongside actors the through-lines of stage characters, structure relationships between characters in a scenic reality and create the spatial form of a production. Training is done in stages, one after the other, over nine semesters: students begin with etudes to learn the elements of theatrical reality, pass on to working with short situations or scenes from literature, and then to fragments of plays and one-act plays. Directing students acquire the skills not just of staging productions but of acting as well, performing in their classmates scenes so as to better understand the psychology of the director’s work with actors.

All of students’ classes taken throughout the course are shared with a single group of about 15 classmates, a studio which functions as a small theatre under a constant team of instructors headed by a master, a famous director with significant practical experience.

The curriculum includes daily six-hour Directing lessons, as well as practical disciplines like speech and movement and university-format classes on Drama Theory, History of Russian and European Theatre, History of Literature, History of Music, Film and Visual Arts (sometimes held in the Hermitage and Russian Museum), History of Philosophy and many more. Students spend about 40 hours a week in class over 30 weeks per academic year.

The final projects of the Directing program are the staging of a short (one act) play and a full-length production in a professional theatre. 

Foreign graduates of our institute’s Directing program have in recent years found work not just in Russia but in Brazil, USA, Japan, Finland, Norway, France, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Germany, South Korea, Lithuania, Ukraine, Syria, Israel and China, among others.

Graduating students receive a Specialist Degree.

Ricardo Marin-Vidal (Mexico), graduate of G. M. Kozlov’s studio, actor and director at the Masterskaya Theatre:

            When I was in my fifth year I told a graduate of the Yale School of Drama about my experience at the Institute and he was openly jealous. After all, not only had my thesis production of Fando and Lis been performed more than five times with more planned (by contrast, productions at American theatre schools are usually performed a handful of times and then never again), it had been chosen to represent the Institute at an international festival in Bratislava, Slovakia.


Another anecdote: once, while still a student, I traveled to London to visit my sister and decided to stop by RADA. A guard at the entrance stopped me and asked me who I was. I replied that I was a student from the theatre academy in St. Petersburg and that I was curious to see what classes there were like and simply to walk down the halls. She made a call and a few minutes later the head of directing at RADA came over to meet me. She gave me a brief tour and even invited some of the staff to come talk to me. That’s the sort of reputation the Institute has.