Pioneering independent theatre Teatr.doc has finally been expelled from its Moscow home this week following an eviction notice sent in October from the Moscow City Government’s Property Department. Despite support from Russian and international cultural figures urging the authorities to allow Teatr.doc to remain at its premises, where it has been located for the past 12 years, the theatre’s artistic director, Yelena Gremina, has said that “nothing has helped”.
“We received a letter from the Property Department to vacate the premises,” Gremina wrote on Facebook. “The Moscow authorities spit on people from the cultural and theatre spheres ... Rumours are going round that the decision was politically-motivated.”
Support from noted cultural figures for Teatr.doc, an institution known for its controversial repertoire which includes political satire, came flooding in after Moscow City Government announced in October that it had decided to terminate the lease agreement with the theatre, citing a violation of renovation rules. Gremina countered the claim, telling journalists that the theatre had converted one of the building’s windows into a door in order to comply with order of the city administration’s fire department.
Among those in support of the institution was British playwright Tom Stoppard, who published an open letter condemning the Russian government’s tightening grip on mass media in the country and praising Teatr.doc for its “uncompromising stand [which] has marked it out for its enemies”.
Gremina’s letter to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin asking him to extend the lease and allow time to correct the alleged violations of redevelopment was met with another injunction to vacate the premises. “We are moving, nobody knows where yet, but we are moving,” Gremina writes. “And if it doesn’t kill us, then, as the saying goes, we will become even stronger.”