History

The history of the "Nikola Vaptsarov" Drama Theatre in Blagoevgrad begins in 1919 when it was established as a municipal theatre and based in the building of the local community center.

In 1943, when Gorna Dzhumaya (Blagoevgrad) becomes a regional center, director Nikola Kolushki becomes the director of the Gorna Dzhumaya’s regional theater, and the activities of the ensemble are considered professional.

Along with the diversity and dynamics of time, the Gorna Dzhumaya’s theatre ensemble continues to seek its place and realization. Among the first local actors are: Todor Chopov, Nadezhda Mirkova-Velinova, Velika Chopova, Magdalena Pramatrova, Elena Bozhikova, Anastasia Trendafilova, Georgi Brachkov, Doncho Padezhki, Georgi Zahov, Yordan Birov, Stoyan Georgiev, Sotir Moshchanski, Zhivko Golemanov, Yordan Cholakov, and others.

The building of "Nikola Vaptsarov" Drama Theatre:

  • The start of the building was in 1964;
  • The opening was on 4th November 1967 with the premiere of "Gotse" by Vasil Mirchovski, director Kiril Aleksandrov.

Scenes from "Othello" by William Shakespeare, director Lyuben Groys (season 1974/1975).
Yordan Spirov (Othello) and Veneta Zyumbyuleva (Desdemona)

However, on September 29, 1944, a day before the premiere of "When Thunder Strikes" by one of Bulgarian’s greatest poets Peyo Yavorov, the authorities of the Fatherland Front stop its funding and disband it. Nevertheless, local actors accept the challenges of the new social order and announce the creation of the Gorna Dzhumaya’s "Todor Chopov" Community Theater. They rehearse and perform shows throughout the region, and in many cases, they become a front-line theater.

In the years 1947-1948, an attempt is made in the Pirin region to realize the so-called "Macedonian autonomy," with the consent and assistance of the new Bulgarian government. The entire repertoire of the theatre is performed in literary Macedonian, but this period does not last long. In the second half of 1948, the theatre is named "National Theatre” – Gorna Dzhumaya. Iliya Brachkov, Vladimir Davchev, Lyubomir Miladinov, Stoyan Valkov, Yanko Zdravkov, Ana Taseva, Ana Dimova, Aphrodite Dinova, Eva Tuparova, Dimitar Manchev, Nikola Dadov, and Vera Vuchkova receive actor titles. The theatre is rightfully declared a cultural institution with state subsidy. In 1952, it takes poet Nikola Vaptsarov as its patron, and in 1967, it receives its own building.

The theatre has won numerous prestigious awards from national forums and festivals—for directing, acting, scenography, and music. Iconic theatre artists of Bulgarian theatre have worked on its stage, such as Lyuben Groys, Konstantin Iliev, Grisha Ostrovski, Krikor Azaryan, Krasimir Spasov, Asen Shopov, Ivan Dobchev, Snezhina Tankovska, Margarit Minkov, and many others.

Since 1988, the "Nikola Vaptsarov" Drama Theatre in Blagoevgrad has been the organizer of a theatre festival. The festival hosts some of the best productions of the season in Bulgaria. The long-standing tradition of the festival was interrupted in 2002 but was restored in 2022 with the first edition of the "Balkan Theatre Festival," which is focused on the brightest achievements in the performing arts of the Balkan countries.

As of today, the "Nikola Vaptsarov" Drama Theatre in Blagoevgrad is the largest state cultural institution outside the capital in the Southwest region. It maintains a rich and diverse active repertoire of nearly 20 titles. Its ensemble consists of 21 actors, and the stage is graced by some of the most significant directors, scenographers, and composers of contemporary Bulgarian theater, such as Stayko Murdjev, Veselka Kuncheva, Anton Ugrinov, Neda Sokolovska, Teya Sugareva, Boyan Ivanov, Marina Raychinova, Petar Dundakov, and many others.

Scene from "The Book of" Kings" by Margarit Minkov, director Encho Halachev (season 1981/1982)

Andrash Konchaliev (Boyan The Magician)

Scene from "Optimistic Tragedy" by Vsevold Vishnevski, director Kostadin Bandutov (season 1981/1982)

Scene from "A Midsummer-night's Dream" by William Shakespeare, director Kostadin Bandutov (season 1981/1982)

AWARDS

IKAR

1995

"Masters" by Racho Stoyanov, director Boyko Bogdanov.

1995 IKAR Award in the "Directing" category for Boyko Bogdanov.

2013

 "Little Goodbye Rituals" by Olya Stoyanova, director Yavor Veselinov.

Nomination for 2013 IKAR Award in the "Debut" category for Yavor Veselinov.

2017

"Vampire" by Anton Strashimirov, director Margarita Macheva.

IKAR Award in the "Leading Female Role" category for Albena Chobanova (Malama).

2019

"Princess Turandot" by Carlo Gozzi, director Margarita Macheva.

Nomination for 2019 IKAR Award in the "Music" category for Plamen Mirchev.

2020

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde, adaptation John O'Connor and Merlyn Holland, director Stayko Murdjev.

Nomination for 2020 IKAR Award in the "Leading Male Role" category for Sevar Ivanov in the role of Dorian Gray.

Nomination for 2020 IKAR Award in the "Supporting Male Role" category for Alexander Hadjiangelov in the role of Basil.

Nomination for 2020 IKAR Award in the "Original Music" category for Peter Dundakov.

2023

"Doubt" by John Patrick Shanley, director Stayko Murdjev.

Nomination for 2023 IKAR Award in the "Leading Female Role" category for Stanka Kalcheva (Sister Aloysius).

Nomination for 2023 IKAR Award in the "Supporting Female Role" category for Mariana Boneva (Sister James).

"The Boy in the Last Row" by Juan Mayorga, director Teya Sugareva.

Nomination for 2023 IKAR Award in the "Debut" category for the set designer Nikol Trendafilova

2024

"Metamorphoses" by Ovid, stage adaptation Mary Zimmerman, director Stayko Murdjev.

Nomination for IKAR Awards 2024 in the "Technical Implementation" category.

Nomination for IKAR Awards 2024 in the "Set Design" category for Nikola Nalbantov.

"The Transfiguration" by Franz Kafka, director Veselka Kuncheva.

Nomination for IKAR Awards 2024 in the "Debut" category for Teodor Nenov - Gregor Samsa.

Nomination for IKAR Awards 2024 in the "Original Music" category for Milen Apostolov.

AWARDS

ASKEER

2001

"Play №27" by Aleksey Slapovski, directors Peter Peykov and Albena Georgieva.

2001 ASKEER Award in the "Directing" category for Peter Peykov and Albena Georgieva.

Nomination for 2001 ASKEER Award in the "Best Performance" category.

Nomination for 2001 ASKEER Award in the "Set Design" category for Youliana Voykova and Petrinel Gochev.

Nomination for 2001 ASKEER Award in the "Costumes Design" category for Youliana Voykova.

2002

"Blood Wedding" by F. G. Lorca, director Krum Philipov.

2002 ASKEER Award in the "Music" category for Petya Dimanova.

2003

"In the Feet of Vitosha Mountain" by Peyo Yavorov, director Asen Shopov.

2003 ASKEER Award in the "Directing" category for Asen Shopov.

Nomination for 2003 ASKEER Award in the "Debut" category for Silvana Pishimarova (Mila).

 "Caroline Neuber" by Noboisha Romchevich, director Krikor Azarian.

2003 ASKEER Award in the "Supporting Male Role" category for Peter Kyosev (Hans).

2012

"The Retreat from Moscow" by William Nicholson, director Peter Peykov.

Nomination for 2012 ASKEER Award in the "Leading Female Role" category for Albena Chobanova (Alice).

Nomination for 2012 ASKEER Award in the "Best Performance" category.

2019

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde, adaptation John O'Connor and Merlyn Holland, director Stayko Murdjev.

Nomination 2019 ASKEER Award in the category "Original Music" for Peter Dundakov.

Sources:

Ilieva, Elena. Chronicle 1919-2019. "Nikola Vaptsarov" Drama Theatre - Blagoevgrad, 2020.

Tsolov, Dimitar. A Theatre's Autobiography. The Confessions of the Creators of the Professional Theatre in Blagoevgrad, 1995.

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