From the onset of early 1848, influenced by the progressive Russian theatres, Shusha’s intelligentsia representatives displayed an interest in staging theatrical performances. The historic situation, the expansion of the enlightening movement in the Transcaucasus indeed played a significant role to this end. It is beyond any doubt that the staging of the modern theatre performances in Shusha in early XIX century was under a direct influence of the Tbilisi’s cultural atmosphere. The progressive men of that period – Russia’s men of literature and art were calling to enlighten local people. As early as 1848 there were two large performance centres – theatres and a circus functioning in Shusha.
Late in XIX and early XX centuries, Shusha was a busiest centre of the theatre performances. Theatres were also gradually becoming a part of daily life in other towns across the country. From this point of view, the Shusha theatre was worth of attention for its contribution to the Azerbaijani theatre of playwrights, composers, actors and theatre managers, like Yusif bey Malikhaqnazarov, A. Haqverdiyev, Z. Haiibeyov, Suleyman Sani Akhundov, Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Firudin Kocharli, B. Badalbeyov, S. Valibeyov, Jabbar Qaryagdi oglu, Hasimbey Vezirov.
In 1870s, this sphere was in the spotlight. The Shusha-based open-minded intelligentsia representatives were working enthusiastically to expand the activities of a club and stage theatre performances to play a crucial role in the cultural development of labourers. As far back as 1870s, a theatre functioning in Shusha, along with Mirza Fatali Akhundov and Russian novelists were of great interest.
Starting from 1882, the theatre performances in Shusha were organized on a regular basis. During summer holidays, teachers came together to stage spectacles. At the beginning, Yusif bey Malikhaqnazarov, Hasim bay Vezirov, Badalbey Badalbeyov, Firudin bey Kocharli, Hasanali Sarijalinski, Mirza Mukhtar Mammadov, Ismayil Safibeyov, Jabbar Qaryagdi oglu acted in spectacles based only on Mirza Fatali Akhdov’s comedies.
Some sources indicate that in 1870-1880s, due to lack of a theatre building in Shusha, performances were staged in barracks. It is possible that for some reasons and certain aims, spectacles were staged in barracks. However, spectacles were mainly staged in a suitable place, i.e. at an estate of Jumshud bay Malikhaqnazarov. In 1871 an old club in Shusha was reopened after repairs and local performances were staged there. In 1888, encouraged by precinct bureaucrat Dubrovskiy, Akhundov’s comedies were again staged for spectators.
Later amateurs acted at Khandemirov’s theatre building. From 1890 the number of teachers and intellectuals showing interest in the theatre dropped. Amongst them there emerged playwrights. A musical show staged on 22
April 1890 at the Shusha non-classical secondary school was of great impact.
At the school, children with the help of actors and teachers narrated stories and fables, recited poems, sung in a choir, performed pieces of music in Azerbaijani, French, German languages. In the summer of 1894, Shusha-based young amateur-teachers staged one after another three benevolent plays – “Haji Qara”, “Messieurs Jordan and dervish Mastali shah”, “A story of a bear attacking robber” in 1895. A local teacher Hashimbey Vezirov staged “Marriage is not easy” play, and the 500-manat earned from the performances was handed over to a vocational school.
The debut of “Broken family” tragedy of A. Haqverdiyev took place in 1896 and the 1st eastern concert also realized in Shusha in 1896 under the guidance of A. Haqverdiyev.
The concert was attended by prominent singers and musicians of Shusha Abdulbaqi Zulalov, Kechachi oglu Mahammad, Jabbar Qaryagdi, Mashadi Dadash, Zabul Qasim and famous tar-player Sadiqjan, Mashadi Zeynal, Balaoglu, violinist Bagdaguloglu and others.
A year after this concert, Shusha residents watched A. Haqverdiyev’s “Majnun at Leyli’s tomb” spectacle based on great Azerbaijani poet M. Fuzuli’s “Leyli and Majnun” poem.
Othello staged in Shusha on 22 August 1904 was of great success and its good tidings reverberated beyond Azerbaijan.
The play was staged by Hashim bey Vezirov, the translator who also starred in the drama. Amateur actors helped him with clothes. Amateur actors like Hasanali bay Sanjalinski, Rasul bey Tahirov and others played in the spectacle. Moscow, Tbilisi, Baku newspapers carried reports about the spectacle.
Starting from 1906 serious spectacles were being staged in Shusha. Revolutionary leaflets were spread during spectacles. In 1908 “Haji Qambar” “A scene of domestic upbringing” “Ill-fated young man”, “Othello” dramas were staged in Shusha.
A bit later A. Haqverdiyev set up a new drama troupe in Agdam. A dramaturgical circle of a two-class Russian-Tatar school merged with it. Rehearsals of the troupe were at the Mamayi quarter at Haqverdiyev’s own house. Philanthropic theatre troupes both in Shusha, Agdam and in various villages of the region were playing a leading role in cultural development of people. Then Mashadi Ibad spectacle was staged in Shusha.
On 30 November 1910, Nadir, Ahmad bey, Abbas and Mamish Dargahov staged “A scene of domestic upbringing”, “Dursunali and Ballıbadı” plays at a school in Agdam.
In 1910 directed by A. Haqverdiyev “Hungary gullible” was staged in Agdam at Hamza Qaniyev’s house; “Broken family” in Shusha at Mamo bay Mamobayov’s house, with “Ill-fated young man” in Shusha’s summer club.
In June of 1913 local Shusha amateurs staged A. Haqverdiyev’s “Aga Mahammad shah Qajar” drama at the Public Gathering. In August the play was again staged by Habib bey Kocharlinski.
Actors from Baku together with Zulfuqar Hacibayov staged Asli and Karam opera for the first time in Shusha. They also staged operettas of “Bachelor while married”, “Young at 50”, “If not that one, this one” or Mashadi Ibad were performed.
In 1914 Shusha amateurs staged “Innocent victim”, “Who is guilty”, “Cluck-cluck” vaudeville in Susa.
In 1917 with the help of the Shusha circle, a club was opened in the town and a lot of people were involved in it
In 1920, a small theater was established in Agdam. The most popular actors were involved in it.
In 1930, a group of people from the opera and drama theater established under the Agdam club of internationalists merged with the drama cast of the workers and villagers and started staging U.Hajibayov’s “Leyli and Majnun”, “O olmasın, bu olsun”, “Arshin mal alan” operas and operettas.
In 1937, the Agdam State Drama Theater was established on the basis of the mentioned cast. The theater was awarded the name of prominent playwright and stage director A. Haqverdiyev. The theater operated selflessly for a period of 10 years, staging performances not only in and around Shusha, but also traveling to Yevlax, Agdash, Goycay, Barda and other districts.
The Agdam Theater’s performances “Love”, “Loyalty” and “Under the chestnut trees of Prague” were the first to focus on people’s heroism in war and on the love of one’s motherland, describing the selflessness of those serving at the frontline and in the rear and the importance of friendship between people.
In post-war years, the Agdam Theater’s “Qatir Mammad” performance became was of its best works.
In 1949, a number of theaters in the republic, including the Agdam State Drama Theater named after A. Haqverdiyev, were shut. This, of course, had an adverse impact on cultural life in the republic.
Finally, in its 11th season, the Agdam Theater was awarded the title of a people’s theater and the theater undertook work on further performances under the name of Abdurrahimbey Haqverdiyev.
The Agdam Theater staged successful operas and operettas both when it was a drama club, then in 1937-1949 when it was the State Theater and in 1959-1969 when it was the people’s theater.
During 1970-es Theater had staged successfully “Mother in law”, “13th chairman”, “Let’s be relatives”, “Sevil”, “Oqtay Eloglu”, “Qaraqum tragedy”, “I can’t forget”, “Agony”, “Adam and Eva”, “Destiny”, Summer days of city””, “Broken union” etc spectacles.