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 Yevgeny  Vakhtangov

Born:   February 13, 1883
Deceased:   May 29, 1922

Legendary Russian stage director, actor, and teacher. Founder of the Vakhtangov Theatre


Yevgeny Vakhtangov's role in Russian culture is unique since his significance has been acclaimed by figures from a wide range of art schools and trends. His stage directing gift balancing between grotesque and celebration presented theatre goers with a new cultural phenomenon. Being a teacher and director at the same time, Yevgeny Vakhtangov brought together creativity, studies, and communication, thus having nurtured a special atmosphere, which has delighted professionals and admirers of the drama art for nearly 100 years.
Yevgeny Vakhtangov was born into the Russian-Armenian family of a tobacco manufacturer in Vladikavkaz on February 13, 1883.
From 1903 to 1909 the future legend of the Russian theatre studied at the Natural Sciences Faculty and the Law Faculty of the Moscow University.
From 1907 to 1909 Yevgeny Vakhtangov contributed his short stories and articles about the theater for the Terek newspaper in Vladikavkaz. In addition to that he staged performances for and acted in student drama troups in Riga, Grozny, Vladikavkaz, Vyazma, and others cities.
In 1909 the aspiring actor entered the Adashev Moscow Theater School and upon finishing it got employed in the Moscow Art Theatre in 1911.
In 1913 Yevgeny Vakhtangov founded and headed the student drama studio, which was renamed into the 3rd Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre in 1920. Afterwards it became known as the Vakhtangov Studio, which was turned into an independent theatre.
The stage director died of stomach cancer on May 29, 1922. His famous Studio was renamed into the Vakhtangov Theatre in 1926.
Yevgeny Vakhtangov was the man of myths, which were probably prompted by his untimely death. Myth as an artistic synthesis was  very akin to the stage director and reflected in his productions of The Miracle of St. Anthony, Eric the 4th and Turandot. He wrote: "It is in the myth, in this age-old sediment of crystals of the people's creative soul that the artist should draw live fire for his or her aspirations for heaven"
His character was paradoxical. His early death caused by a hard disease affected the fact that his students and colleagues confirmed Vakhtangov's image as a man in love with art, a fragile and vulnerable personality, who was at the same time persistent and strong enough to struggle through physical challenges by working hard and creating.
An important concept for Yevgeny Vakhtangov and his theatre was celebration, albeit tough and challenging amid trials and hunger of the revolution, but the celebration of life it was. Thus, he perceived and handled acting and playing as the means for celebration.
It is no surprise that the personality of Yevgeny Vakhtangov has been idealized. The principles of his work were right, maybe even too right and, more importantly, durable. His principles are well remembered by Rimas Tuminas, the current art director of the Vakhtangov Theater. "You should play for the heaven rather than the public or the orchestra." Modern Vakhtangov Theater  is not preoccupied with the outside of the arts, such as acting influence and fine looks, but always adheres to deeper meanings and ideas.

Tags: Yevgeny Vakhtangov Vakhtangov Theatre Stage Directors Russian Theatre  

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