Former Gulag Theatre, Ukhta, Russia


Gulag Theatre

For a small town at Russian far north, Ukhta has a sizable theatre building. The reason is that during 1950s huge Gulag camp of Ukhtizhimlag was situated at the edge of the town. Most of the prisoners were doing forced labour in Soviet oilfields or mines, but some of them were ordered to build a theatre. The commander of the camp was a theatre enthusiast, and he wanted to have the best ever Gulag theatre troupe and theatre building. One could say he succeded, as prisoners of the camp included, among others, a famous soprano, a dancer from Bolshoi theatre and a well-known Soviet film actor. They were forced to perform for the commander and townspeople in the huge theatre built with forced labour. The building still stands in the middle of Ukhta as a reminder of its Gulag past. After the collapse of the Soviet Union it was converted into a church and the lyre on the pediment was changed to an orthodox cross.


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