Maly Theatre (Малый театр, literally Small Theatre as opposed to nearby Bolshoi, or Grand, opera theater) is a drama theater in Moscow, Russia. Established in 1806 and operating on its present site on the Theatre Square since 1824, the theatre traces its history to the Moscow University drama company, established in 1756.
In the 19th century, Maly was "universally recognized in Russia as the leading dramatic theatre of the century", and was the home stage for Mikhail Shchepkin and Maria Yermolova. 40 of Alexander Ostrovsky's 54 plays premiered at Maly, and the theatre was known as The House of Ostrovsky. The Maly Theatre in Moscow and Alexandrinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg "to a great extent determined the development of Russian theatre during the 19th and 20th century".
Maly Theatre positions itself as a traditional drama theatre that produces classical heritage plays. The current (2009–2010 season) program of Maly includes plays by Russian authors from Denis Fonvizin to Mikhail Bulgakov, and a single play by Molière. The second stage of Maly, located in Zamoskvorechye District, also performs plays by W. Somerset Maugham, Luigi Pirandello and Eugene Scribe. Maly had a long tradition of producing William Shakespeare but, as of 2009, performs only one Shakespearian play, Love's Labour's Lost on its second stage.
Maly Theatre employs a staff of over seven hundred, including over one hundred drama actors. It is the only drama theatre in Russia that has retained a symphony orchestra and a professional choir. The theatre also operates Shchepkin Theatre School, Moscow's oldest drama school, established in 1809 as the Imperial Theatre School.