The Theatre for Working Youth (TRAM)

6 Malaya Dmitrovka
Subway station «Tverskaya, Chekhovskaya»
The house was built in 1908 by the architect I. Ivanov-Schitz for a merchant’s club. From 1917, the building housed the ‘House of Anarchy’, the Central School of Party and Soviet Work, The Yakov Sverdlov Communist Institute and a cinema at different times. In 1927, the Theatre for Working Youth was located here. From 1st April 1930 until 15th March 1931, Bulgakov worked as a consultant for the theatre, and his responsibilities included reviewing plays. In February 1938, the Theatre was given the name, the ‘Moscow Theatre named after Lenin’s Komsomol’, and became known as ‘Lenkom’.
Elena Bulgakova left memories about people from TRAM visiting Bulgakov in her diary: ‘I was with Mikhail at Pirogovskaya, F. Knorre and P. Sokolov arrived (the first, it seems, is the head of the literary department at TRAM, the second – a director) wanting to persuade Mikhail to become a director at TRAM. I sat in the bedroom, and Mikhail received them in the office. But every minute he ran to me for advice. Finally, I went out and we prepared an agreement.’ For almost a year, Bulgakov juggled work at two theaters – during the day he was at the Moscow Art Theatre and he went to TRAM in the evening. In March 1931, Bulgakov left TRAM (he gave the reason in a letter to Stalin of 30 May 1931: ‘I felt my brain wasn’t working and that I wasn’t contributing to TRAM) and completely focused on his work at the Moscow Art Theatre. Working at the Theatre for Working Youth helped the writer deal with financial difficulties, about which he wrote in a letter to his brother Nikolay (of 7th August 1930): ‘I really need money, and this is why: at the Moscow Art Theater, the pay is 150 rubles a month, but I’m not getting it, since I’ve given it to pay off the last quarterly tax payment for the previous year. Only a few rubles are left over for the month. Alongside that, I receive 300 rubles a month at TRAM… But my debts for the previous year are so deep, so irredeemable, that the 300 rubles from TRAM are also swallowed up by the debt’.