Dramatic art in Tatarstan has deep historical traditions. The students of the Slavonic-Latin School gave their first performances in Russian for Kazan citizens in 1728. The first theatre was opened in 1791. In 1804, it moved into a spacious wooden building with columns constructed in Kouznechny Square (present-day site of Jalil Opera and Ballet Theatre). After it was replaced by a stone theatre building in 1825, operas and ballets were also staged here. In 1874, an independent dramatic company was set up in Kazan. In 1906-1910, a special building was constructed for it, which today belongs to Kazan Kachalov Bolshoi Russian Drama Theatre. Its history is connected with the names of outstanding actors - A.P.Lensky, V.N.Davydov, K.A.Varlamov, P.A.Strepetova, M.G.Savina, M.S.Shchepkin. It was Russia's top provincial theatre in the second half of the XIX-th century.
15-year-old Feodor Chaliapin made his debut on the stage of the Kazan Theatre as an actor in "Gendarme Roget". He was so nervous that couldn't say a word and the play was called off. Later he called it the beginning of his stage career.
A.M.Gorky appeared on the Kazan stage in 1885, singing in the chorus.
In 1949, Bolshoi Drama Theatre was named after V.I.Kachalov, who worked here in 1897-1900. He achieved a great success in the role of Kassius ("Julius Ceaser"). In 1900, V.I.Kachalov was invited to Moscow Art Theatre (MHAT).
National Tatar Theatre was created in the beginning of the XX-th century - when Tatar democratic culture came into being. The first public performance in Tatar was held on December 22, 1906, in Kazan. The plays "Kyzganych Bala" ("Poor Child") and "Gyishyk Belese" ("Love Works Woe") were staged. At that time only men played on the stage. One of the first women who dared to brake the Shariah to enter the stage was S. Gizatoullina-Volzhskaya. Classic of Tatar poetry Gabdulla Tukai called her "the sun of Tatar stage".
In autumn 1908, the first Tatar theatre company "Sayar" comprised of talented artists I.Kudashev, G.Kareev, S.Gizatoullina-Volzhskaya and others was organized in Kazan. Outstanding representatives of national intelligentsia such as poet G.Tukai, playwright G.Kamal played a great role in foundation of the Tatar theatre. Even at the earliest stage of development the Tatar theatre acquainted its audience with the works of Russian and foreign classics (plays by N.Gogol, A.Chekhov, M.Gorky, A.Ostrovsky, V.Shakespeare, F.Schiller and others).
At present Tatarstan enjoys 13 theatres, 7 of them - in Kazan. Kazan Theatre College and Kazan State Academy of Culture and Arts prepare professional actors. Numerous tours of Tatarstan theatre companies in Russia and abroad prove their high artistic level.