The art of theatre in the forms of square theatre and sketch performances existed in Nakhchivan since ancient times. But the professional theatre dates back 120 years ago. In 1882, by the initiative of the well-known intellectual E.Sultanov, “Muslim Shiite Dramatic Art Society” and “Intellectuals’ Assembly” were established in Nakhchivan. Teachers were main members. In 1884, E.Sultanov wrote a two-parted play “Tatarka” (“Azerbaijani Girl”). By the initiative of members of the society and assembly in the house of progressive intellectual Haji Najaf Zeynalov, which was situated in “Zaviya” ward, a comedy of M.F.Akhundov “Monsieur Jordan and Dervish Mastali Shah” was performed on August 12, 1886. Subsequently, “Mullah Ibrahimkhalil Alchemist”, “Vizier of Khan of Lankaran”, “Haji Gara”, “Robber-crushing Bear” comedies of M.F.Akhundov, and afterwards “A Mode of House Education”, “Fakhraddin’s Misfortune”, “Came out of Rain, Fell into Hail” (“Haji Ganbar”) by N.Vazirov, “Collapsing Hearth”, “Ill-fated Youth”, “Fairy magic” by A.Hagverdiyev, “Nadir Shah” by N.Narimanov, “The Dead Ones” by J.Mammadguluzade and other plays found their stage embodiments. Alongside E.Sultanov, J.Mammadguluzade, M.T.Sidgi, G.Sharifov, A.Sultanov, M.S.Gulubayov, A.Khalilov, S.Khalilov, M.J.Shurbi, J.P.Sultanov, M.A.Suleymanov, N.Sheykhov, M.Gaziyev and others, later on B.Nakhchivanli, R.Tahmasib, A.Gamkusar, R.Isfandiyarli served to a great extent for Nakhchivan theatre. H.Arablinski, M.Aliyev, S.Ruhulla and others coming to Nakhchivan frequently, taking part in the performances together with local actors and producers, and giving them valuable advices, greatly influenced the growth of professional level of Nakhchivan theatre. In general, during the 80-90’s of the XIX century and at the beginning of the XX century, Nakhchivan theatre played an important role for the development of national theatre.In the 20’s of the XX century Nakhchivan theatre entered a new increasing stage. Nakhchivan actors joined in one company. The State Dramatic Theatre was established in 1922. H.Javid's (“Sheykh Sanan”) and J.Jabbarli’s (“Aydin”) plays brought new breathing to Nakhchivan theatre. The theatre developed in romantic and also in realistic directions. In the 30’s there were successfully performed J.Jabbarli’s “Almaz”, “Yashar”, M.Ibrahimov’s “Hayat”, S.Rahman’s “Wedding”, S.Vergun’s “Vagif” plays and other works. During this period a lot of talented actors and producers (I.Mussayev, S.Movlavi, M.Mirishli, I.Hamzayev, A.Hagverdiyev, K.Gaziyeva, F.Alikhanova and others) came to the stage of Nakhchivan theatre. In its repertoire the theatre addressed to the works of the world classics together with Azerbaijan plays.
While the USSR was being defended during the years of the II World War (1941-45), plays written in the spirit of heroic deeds and patriotism were performed there. Later on the best works of Azerbaijan drama, as well as Sophocles, W.Shakespeare, F.Shiller, K.Goldoni, Lope de Vega, N.V.Gogol, A.N.Ostrovski, A.P.Chekhov, M.Gorkiy, N.Hikmat and other world classics’ works were performed successfully.
In addition to dramatic works, the musical works of the theatre including “Leyli and Majnoon”, “Husband and Wife” by U.Hajibeyov, “Ashug Garib”, “50 Year-Aged Youth”, “Married Single” by Z.Hajibeyov, “Bride of Five Manats”, “Crane” by S.Rustamov, “Congratulations” by F.Amirov, “Ulduz”, “We Know What to Do” by S.Alaskarov and other operas and musical comedies were also performed successfully. The works of local author (H.Ibrahimov, M.Tariverdiyev, H. Razi, H.Elsavar, A.Yusifli, Kamala, H.Arzulu and others) also occupy an important place in the repertoire of the theatre. During the following decades some generations of talented actors (M.Guliyev, Z.Hamzayeva, S.Husseynova, A.Gardashbeyov, A.Shahsuvarov, R.Jafarkhanova, H.Aghayev, Y.Hagverdiyev, K.Huseynov, P.Mammadova, T.Mammadova, I.Bananyarli, T.Movlavi, M.Safarov, I.Mammadov, N.Hamzayev and others) and producers (B.Galandarli, V.Babayev, V.Assadov, A.Lalayev, K.Guliyev and others) were brought up here.
Currently, there are Nakhchivan, Ordubad, Sharur people theatres and Huseyn Javid poetic theatre in Nakhchivan AR alongside 2 professional theatres – Nakhchivan State Musical Drama named after J.Mammadguluzade and State Puppet Show named after M.T.Sidgi.
In 2006, by the order of the Chairman of the Supreme Assembly of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic State Child Theatre was established for the purpose of upbringing children in the spirit of national moral values.
Nakhchivan State Children’s Philarmonic was established in 2010 by the order of the Chairman of the Supreme Assembly of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. This cultural institution includes Folk Instruments Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Song and Dance Ensemble and choral group.
The Nakhchivan State Musical Drama Theatre named after Jalil Mammadguluzadeh, the Nakhchivan State Puppet Theatre, the Nakhchivan State Children’s Theatre and the People’s Theatre of Ordubad region act in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.
By the order of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic, 125th jubilee of the Nakhchivan State Musical Dramatic Theatre named after J.Mammadguluzade was marked in 2008.
Building of the Nakhchivan State Musical Drama Theatre named after Jalil Mammadguluzadeh had been improved on the basis of modern Project and put in commission on February 3, 2012.
130th anniversary of the Nakhchivan theatre was celebrated in 2013.