New theatre named Sovremennik emerged in 1956, during Stalin’s Thaw, when Stalin's cult was denounced. It was founded by a group of young Soviet actors who wanted to revive MKhAT’s (Moscow Art Theatre) traditions based on artistic-ethical ideals. Among the founders, all of whom graduated from Moscow Art Theatre School-Studio, were Oleg Yefremov, Galina Volchek, Igor Kvasha, Liliya Tolmachyova, Yevgeniy Yevstigneyev and Oleg Tabakov.The troupe established its own charter and jointly decided what performance to stage, discussed Efremov’s activity as a director.
It all started with Rozov’s work Eternally Alive, a play based on the theme of civic duty in the war with fascism. This play revealed the moral choice the generation of that time had to make. Sovremennik Theatre became a symbol of the Soviet neo-realism. And a phrase ‘If I am honest - I should’ cited from this play, actually became the motto of new theatre.
The history of Sovremennik Theatre has some key moments. In 1964 it ceased to be a studio and received the status of full-fledged theatre. In 1967, despite the ban of Head Censorship Department, Efremov managed to stage Bolsheviks, a part of the trilogy dedicated to revolutionary movements of Russia. It happened on 7 November 1967, in day of the 50th anniversary of October Revolution.
September 1970 marked the crisis point in Sovremennik’s history - Oleg Efremov accepted the prompt to head Moscow Art Theatre and left followed by many leading actors. Shortly before it, Chekhov’s Seagull was staged in Sovremennik Theatre as Efremov’s pamphlet on the relations inside the troupe and general pitiable situation among actors. It was obvious to everyone that Sovremennik ran out of stream and will disappear forever rather soon.
However, in 1972 the theatre was headed by Galina Volchek who started time-consuming and operous process of theatre recover. Sovremennik received new premises (the former Collosseo cinema) and since then was located in Chistoprydniy boulevard, 19A.
Recovering theatre, Galina Borisovna Volchek turned to Chekhov's plays and to foreign drama art. So, performances The Ballad of Sad Café and Who’s Afraid of Virginiya Wolf? by American playwrighter Edward Olby had been of inevitable success in Sovremennik’s repertoire for many years. The theatre repertoire included works of such authors as Tennessy, Dorfman, Bar-Yosef and others.
During its existence Sovremennik theatre made a range of tour tours not only in the territory of the former USSR, but also in Europe and USA. For its semicentennial history, the theatre has experienced rises and falls, oblivion and triumph, but nevertheless survived and found its audience that helped Sovremennik to discover its place.