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 Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko

Born:   23 December 1858
Deceased:   25April 1943

Outstanding Soviet theatrical figure, stage director, teacher, writer, and playwright


Vladimir Ivanovich Nemirovich-Danchenko was born on 23 (11) December 1858 in Ozurgeta (Georgia) into a Russian-Georgian-Armenian family. Since childhood he dreamed of the theatre stage, and at the age of 19 successfully started his career as an actor in an amateur theater. However, he later left the stage in order to return to the theatre hall as a critic and a stage director for in youth already he had his own vision of the theater and theatrical life. 

In the 1870s he started stating his views as a theatre critic. Vladimir Ivanovich was a connoisseur of modern performing art, which brought him to the idea of the necessity to radically reform the theater. He could not put up with the existing gap between demands of life and the theater, which could not meet these demands in spite of talented and skillful actors. 

Nemirovich-Danchenko offered Stanislavski, who was already a well-known director, to unite efforts for creation of a new program of theatrical creativity. This is how they founded the Art Theater, which was his dream, vocation and life mission. Here, with the presence of Stanislavski, Chekhov, Gorky and other prominent artists and writers, he finally got a real opportunity to implement his ideals. He laid solid foundations in the theatre, which nurtured a galaxy of magnificent actors was. 

The main feature of Nemirovich-Danchenko’s gift was his ability to capture theater as a whole. He did not see theater outside of the society; for him there were no minor details in theater life. He is the author of the popular aphorism: “The theater begins with a coat rack”. The figurative language used by Nemirovich-Danchenko in his communication with actors was extraordinary rich and full of vivid comparisons aimed at awakening necessary associations in the actor. This language expanded and deepened actors’ savoir vivre, allowing them to find bright and simple stage methods to convey life. He did not teach actors and never forced them to anything. His actors simply lived on the stage – lived strongly, brightly and beautifully.
On April 25, 1943 Vladimir Ivanovich, aged 84, died of a heart attack. Lots of his great plans and ideas remained unfulfilled.

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