Nikolay Okhlopkov was born on May (2) 15, 1900 into the family of a colonel in Irkutsk. While studying in a military school he was very much into art. It led to attending Painting, Sculpture and Architecture School and then majoring in violoncello at music conservatory.
Soon he started working as a furniture maker and stage designer at the Irkutsk Theater, but in 1918 he was already an actor (nowadays the theater is named after N. P. Okhlopkov). In 1921 he directed a parade in one of the main squares of Irkutsk for celebration of May 1. He staged Vladimir Mayakovsky’s play Mystery Bouffe in the Young Theater in 1922 and then was invited to Moscow. He became an actor of Meyerhold’s Theatre in 1923.
From 1930 to 1937 he headed the Realistic Theater and became an actor and stage director of the Vakhtangov Theatre in 1938-1943. In 1943 he accepted the offer of becoming the principal director of the Moscow Revolution Theater (presently the Vladimir Mayakovsky Moscow Academic Theater).
The heroic focus of his art and the emotionality of Nikolay Okhlopkov were most vividly expressed during the Great Patriotic War. It was very bright in the plays Field Marshal Kutuzov, Sirano de Bergerac, and Sons of Three Rivers.
One of Okhlopkov’s most outstanding works in the theater is The Young Guard staged in 1947 on the basis of the same-name novel by A.A. Fadeyev. His special staging provided poetic unfolding of the story. The power of man’s spirit blends with the scarlet banner there.
Hamlet staged by Okhlopkov in 1954 became an important stage in development of his talent. In this work the stage director conveyed the deep philosophical essence of Shakespearean theater. Hamlet as seen by Okhlopkov is a heroic tragedy. Its message is about the spiritual victory of Hamlet’s rebellion over stagnancy and darkness of “the world prison”.
Like most of stage directors, Nikolay Okhlopkov was also into teaching: he taught in GITIS (State Institute for Theatre Art). He also played in several movies, such as Lenin in October, Alexander Nevsky, A Story about a Real Man, and others.
Nikolay Okhlopkov died on January 8, 1967 in Moscow.