Kuznetsov, Stepan

Kuznetsov, Stepan Leonidovich


Born Jan. 2 (14), 1879, in Kishinev; died Apr. 18, 1932, in Moscow. Soviet Russian actor; People’s Artist of the Republic (1929).

Kuznetsov became a professional actor in 1901. From 1902 to 1906 he served in the army and participated in the revolutionary movement. Kuznetsov worked in the Solovtsov Theater in Kiev (1907–08), the Moscow Art Theater (1908–10), and the Theater of the Moscow City Soviet of Trade Unions (1923–25). In 1925 he joined the company of the Malyi Theater.

Although Kuznetsov had no formal training, he was known for his original talent, vitality, and expressiveness; his complete identification with his role and his unusual powers of observation enabled him to reproduce details of behavior with amazing accuracy. He played Khlestakov and the Governor in Gogol’s The Inspector-General; Luka, the Baron, and Aleshka in Gorky’s Lower Depths; Gaev, Epikhodov, and Firs in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard; and Vaflia and Astrov in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

Ruthless insight and occasional grotesque elements colored his portrayals of negative personalities—for example, Pope Urban VIII in Lunacharskii’s The Duke and King Louis XI in Krasheninnikov’s adaptation of Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris. Kuznetsov’s acute sense of comedy and musical ability enabled him to perform easily and elegantly in farce, vaudeville, and comedy—for example, Lord Babberley in Thomas’ Charley’s Aunt and Jourdain in Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.

Kuznetsov’s talent flowered anew with his appearance in the plays of Soviet writers. His crowning achievement was the portrayal of Shvanda in Trenev’s Liubov*larovaia. His other major roles included lusov in Ostrovskii’s A Profitable Post, Raspliuev in Sukhovo-Kobylin’s Krechinskii’s Wedding, and Mr. Doolittle in Shaw’s Pygmalion. Kuznetsov’s last stage appearances were as Gennadii Dubrovin in Romashov’s Bridge in Flames (1929) and as Buketov in Romashov’s A Change of Heroes (1930).


Stepan Kuznetsov: Sb. statei. Moscow, 1927.
Markov, P. A. Teatral’nye portrety. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Deich, A. S. L. Kuznetsov: 1879–1932. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.