Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre – Glasgow, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

The elaborate clockwork contraptions in this Scottish gallery create small worlds of whimsy and horror. 


Combining automata, haunting lighting, and unique soundscapes, the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre brings to life historical tales with whimsy and often ghoulish inventions. 

This astonishing kinetic theatre showcases the life works of Eduard Bersudsky, a Russian-born mechanic and sculptor. With the aid of theatre director Tatyana Jakovskaya, Sharmanka (which translates from the Russian as “hurdy-gurdy”) regularly treats visitors to shows of theatrical phantasmagoria, in which Bersudsky’s highly elaborate mechanical exhibits lurch to eerie music telling tales of Communist Russia’s often murky past. As each intricate pieces lurches to life countless tiny monsters and people turn cranks, or ride gears as larger pieces begin to move. Every cobbled together tower and fantastic airship is a small living world unto itself.    

Although originally hailing from Russia, Bersudsky has called Glasgow his home since 1993. The center of this work is at the theatre itself, but his phantasmagoric scenes and contraptions often tour the world like a nightmare circus. The works of the Sharmanka Theatre can be seen in museums across Europe and one of their pieces also makes up part of the Royal Museum of Scotland’s Millennium Clock.   

Although conveniently located in Glasgow’s bustling city centre, Sharmanka transports guests to a fascinating otherworld in which mute mechanical creatures are the narrators of grotesquely engaging stories.

Know Before You Go

It's closed Mondays and Tuesdays, there are one or two shows a day (40 minutes or 60 minutes) it is advised to book 24 hours in advance to avoid disappointment. There is one show geared more towards children and another aimed at a more mature audience. 

It is recommended to arrive 20 minutes early, as you are able to examine the artwork from a distance. Taking photos is allowed, but not while the show is in progress.

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