|The main guidelines of work were established from the very first year:
- only the plays on the problems which are vital to us will be staged in the theater;
- the parents will play in the performances alongside with their children, and in the "Basement" the adults and the kids have equal voting rights;
- the theater is conceived as a mean, and not as a goal. In other words, there are no ungifted people, there are the talented ones and the very talented. Theater sessions in the "Basement" are targeted to help each person to open him/herself to the fullest extent;
- people can join the theater on a free basis without any competitive selection or audition;
During these years several hundreds of plays were performed, which were visited by over 10 000 guests not only in Moscow but in other cities of Russia as well.
Among these plays are:
"Hallo, we can hear you!" (based on journalist materials by J. Shekotchihin)
"Spetsuha" (play about a specialized custody school for girls, based on the actual personal files and letters of girls in Ishimbai custody school)
"EMT" (on teaching the Elementary Military Training program in Russian schools)
"Anne Frank's Diary"
"The Swaps" and "I choose freedom" (on problems between the children and the parents)
and many others.
The costumes, decorations for the play, stagelights, sound engineering and even the cleaning of premises - all this is the responsibility of the theater members.
The parents who come to the theater to "simply participate in just one play with their child" unexpectedly for themselves remain there for many years and gradually become "everybody's mums and dads", who are valued, respected and can be asked for a personal advice at any moment.
During 15 years more than one generation of children grew up in the theater, and for them the "Basement" is still their "second home".
With time there appeared some traditional meeting days (September 9 and April 19), and the traditional holidays, for instance, post-premiere "kapustnik" plays (fun performances consisting of several sketches), the season closing meeting when the whole theater lights up a candle passed over to everyone, and every person can hold it and make a wish.
The best part is that these wishes do come true.
I am going to the performance and think to myself: "Why do I need all this? I don't! I've got enough of my own worries, and enough things to waste my nerves at!"
But playing at the stage is such an adrenaline, such a stress that gives you a whole bunch of energy to go on.
In my youth I dreamt of becoming an actress and I didn't make it, but I do play in the Basement. I dreamt of having many children and this dream also didn't come true, but I got so many children in the Basement. The Basement brought up my daughter and me too.
The kids in the Basement are all perfectly different, but I love each and every one of them, with all their craziness. Today, instead of getting angry, I think of the best way to help. I treat them all as my own children.
My daughter used to be jealous to other basement children: "You love all of them, but when it comes to me you only give me a hard time." She used to think that I was supposed to be there only for herself, but now she understands that her mother has her own life and that her mother has a right to live her life too.
And I used to think before that friends are only those people who came into your life a long time ago, and that in my age one can rarely find a close friend rather than a good pal. But those are true friends that I acquired in the theater. To me it is a discovery.
People of my age are jealous, saying - you have such a wonderful way to escape from all our routine, where you can just step aside and forget that everything is bad at work, that there is no money and simply to live. Every person has a right for such escape, but they either do not allow it to themselves, or can not find one.
"The Basement" is a part of the soul. Like a church where it's clean (not in the meaning of "dust"), where people can be themselves.
For me the "Basement" is just everything. The "Basement" is my first home, not even the second. I have no idea of what kind of person I would be if it weren't for the "Basement".
I have my friends here, and all the others are my pals and acquaintances, but not friends. But in here I've got my relatives, to whom I am always ready to help and with whom I am always ready to talk.
We have common cares, we are altogether caring for this place. And I know that even if I won't see some of the "basementniks" for five years, and then call them up saying that I need to talk to them - they will always find time for me.
Here they love each other more. As if it's some different world, and it's the only world these people know.
That's why I am looking at the newcomers with more attention, so that a bad person would not come to this place. But it is the good people that the "Basement" draws to itself.
So I am always surprised to hear this question "why I am coming here". You come to your home, don't you?
Julia Tandit, 16 yo.