Vanadzor State Dramatic Theatre named after Hovhannes Abelian was founded in 1931. In the initial period of activity it consisted mainly of members of local theatric groups and students of Tbilisi Armenian Theatre studio. The first play performed on its stage was “Outburst” by Yanovskiy (director Ash-Mat, scene-painter K. Minasian). Casting of the theatre included A. Pashian, A. Khudanian, Zh. Eloyan, L. Nersisian, A. Arevshatian, G. Nalbandian, Ts. Vruyr, A. Nalchajian, R. Minasian, A. Gevorgian and others. Performances of directors A. Burjalian, V. Achemian, T. Shamirkhanian and masters of Armenian stage V. Papazian, H. Nersisian, Hasmik, A. Voskanian, Zhasmen have much contributed to the professional level of the group. H. Abelian, after whom the theatre was named in 1936, was in close relationship with the theatric group. In 1940-1945 “Ruzan”, “Gevorg Marzpetuni” by Muratsan, “Russian people” by K. Simonian and other works were performed on the stage.
The following are the best post-war performances: “For the honor of those who are in sea” by B. Lavbeyov, “Russian question” by K. Simonov, “Makar Dubava” by A. Korneychuk, “Winter fairy tale” by Shakespeare, “Under the same floor” by G. Borian. In 1960-s the following plays were performed: “Profitable position” by A. Ostrovski, “Yes, the world has turned around” by A. Papayan, “Blue rider” by G. Gevorgian, “One more victim” by G. Sundukian, “There is a wild dog in the yard” by K. Buachidze, “Birthday party in the house of Senior Kupello” by De Philippo, “Antogone” by Zh. Anuy, “Handful of change” by P. Mealier.
In 1970-s the theatre involved young actors and actresses. The remarkable performances of those years are: “Macbeth” by Shakespeare, “Don’t grieve, mother” by N. Dumbadzev, “Husband and wife” by G. Sundukian, “Looking for happiness” by V. Rozov, “Free topic” by by A. Chkhaidze, “Chaos” by Shirvanzade, “Man who has seen death” by V. Eftimiu, “Negative verdict” by Dumbadze, “The last ones” by M. Gorkiy, “Love under the willows” by Onil. For many years beginning from 1980 Vanadzor Dramatic Theatre achieved much success performing a series of plays at former soviet and international festivals and receiving best prizes.
The hard socio-economic situation dominating the country during the last ten years of the century had its direct negative influence on Vanadzor Dramatic Theatre. Some of the leading actors left the theatre. The art manager of the National Academic Theatre was appointed director V. Shahverdian whose efforts were uf much significance for the progress of Vanadzor theatre. For the recent years attempts have been made to recover the best traditions and the close relationship with the audience. The active participants of this process are art counselor V. Shahverdian, scene-maker and actor H. Azizian, S. Soghomonian, director Sh. Ismayelian, playwright and the principle of the theatre S. Khalatian, actors and actresses R. Mkhitarian, R. Margarian, E. Adamian, G. Papian, H. Torosian, A. Hovhannissian, M. Sargsian, etc.