INFORMATION FOR TRAVELERS
MONGOLIA ARTS AND CULTURE
With Mongolia's historic shift to a market economy and democratic society, the
nation's approach to the arts changed. The culture and art community was not
prepared to face the new trends. This brought a few years of practical collapse
of the arts.
But with the changes, a new approach to national folk music, especially to the
disappearing unique songs and music of Mongolian tribes, was initiated on the
part of the Government of Mongolia. A project was implemented jointly with
UNESCO to audially and visually document the oral music heritage of the Mongols
and set up a national fund of recordings, which now resides in the National
Archives. The most successful performance groups at the moment are the Tumen Ekh
Ensemble (a private traditional performance group), the State Circus, which
travels around the world, and the State Morin Khuur Ensemble, which has also
enjoyed international and national success in recent years.
The flourishing of ballet and classic music development in the 1970s and 1980s
was indeed a unique stage in the history of the national arts. Some groups that
thrived during socialism are now struggling. The Symphony Orchestra, for
example, only plays concerts by reservation. The Mongolian State Philharmonics,
an organization founded in 1972 which was the face of Mongolian music abroad,
doesn't serve the same place in the new society which encourages individual
There are three fully state-run organizations: State Academic Theater of Opera
and Ballet, the Academic Theater of National Drama, and State Academic Ensemble
of Folk Dance and Music. These operate regularly but are dependent on the state
budget. World classics are still displayed on the Mongolian stage regularly, as
well as Mongolian productions. In the summer of 2003, a new opera premiered, "Chinggis
Khaan", by B. Sharav. It teslls the story of Chinggis Khaan in his youth, and
weaves traditional Mongolian elements with Western classical opera.
MONGOLIAN THEATER HISTORY
Throughout Mongolian theater history, fairy tales, legends, romantic stories,
and religious events have been expressed through music, songs, dances, and
drama. This genre is rooted in the ancient Mongolian tradition of arranging
noisy, crowded festivities where singing, dancing, and worshipping of Gods were
central. There was royal entertainment, called Palace theater, as well as folk
theater and ritual shows for the common people.
Under the domination of the Manchurian Empire, theatrical entertainment was
strongly influenced by Chinese culture. There were numerous Chinese theatrical
spots spread across Mongolia in those times.
From the early 1930s, through Soviet Russian influence, European theatrical art
was introduced to Mongolia. Mr. A . Efremov, the student and follower of the
first Soviet professor of theater K. S. Stanislavsky, personally contributed to
the training of Mongolia's professional theater artists.
The State Academic Drama Theater was established in 1931 as the State Central
Theater, in a building which no longer exists called "Bombogor Nogoon." Since
the debuted with "Truth", over 450 national and classic pieces have been
performed on its stage. From this mother organization, a number of organizations
and theaters were born: the State Circus (1940), State Puppet Theater (1948),
State Children and Youth Central Theater (1950), Academic Opera (1963), and the
Music and Drama Theaters of Khovd, Bayan-Ulgiy and
Mongolia theater artists made their first guest tour abroad in 1933 when S.
Buyannemekh's production "The Dark Nation" was performed in Moscow. Since that
time, Mongolian artists have performed in China, Hungary, Germany, Korea and the
Buriatia and Kalmuk Republics (Russian areas where Mongols live.) Their
repertoire includes national and classic plays, including W. Shakespeare's
"Othello", Sophocles' "King Edipe", E. Voinich's "Gadfly", D. Namdag's "Orolmaa",
J. Shagdar's "White Mother Goddess", and S. Jargalsaikhan's "I wish men".
The Mongolian leaders H. Choibalsan and U. Tsedenbal ordered the establishment
of the State Children and Youth Central Theater. The main purpose of this
theater was to help educate children about the party, motherland and Stalin's
and Lenin's doctrine. The theater regularly translated and performed works of
the Soviet Union, and toured to all parts of the country. During its time, the
theater also put on works of domestic writers and won the respect of audiences
in German, Russian, and Bulgaria. In the late 1990s, the theater was privatized
with management privatization, and now no longer exists.
THEATRE AND ORGANIZATIONS
- The State Academic Drama Theater
- Natinal Academic Ensemble of Folk Dance and Music
- Mongolian State Puppet Theater
- Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet
- The Moving Theater 'NAURUZ'
- Mongolian Center of IIT
- The Mongolian Theater Museum
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