Savina, Mariia Gavrilovna
(née Podramentsova). Born Mar. 30 (Apr. 11), 1854, in Kamenetsk-Podol’sk; died Sept. 8 (21), 1915, in Petrograd. Russian actress.
Savina came from a family of provincial actors. She made her professional debut in 1869 in Minsk as Polin’ka in Ostrovskii’s A Profitable Post. In 1870 she went to Kharkov to take part in the private theatrical enterprise of M. V. Lentovskii; she later worked in Nizhny Novgorod. Savina’s talent developed under the influence of A. I. Shubert, a former student of M. S. Shchep-kin. Savina also learned much from the entrepreneur and actor P. M. Medvedev, performing in his troupe in Kazan, Saratov, and Orel (in 1872).
Savina acted in various vaudevilles, operettas, and light comedies. In 1874 she began a career in the Aleksandrinskii Theater, where she soon became a leading actress. She was the best interpreter of the role of Mar’ia Antonovna in Gogol’s The Inspector-General in the entire history of the play. Appearing often in the plays of A. N. Ostrovskii, she performed the roles of Poliksena in Truth Is Good, but Happiness Is Better, Varia in The Shy Girl, Nadia in The Ward, and Vera Filippovna in The Heart Is No Stone. Her other roles included Akulina in L. N. Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness, Ol’ga Rantseva in Markevich’s One Year of Life, and Nina Volyntseva in Sumbatov’s The Chains.
Savina was a highly skilled actress noted for vivid and expressively precise characterizations. Her classically lucid style allowed her to subtly convey deep meaning to seemingly fleeting emotions and to express innermost feelings without words. Savina revealed these talents best in the plays of I. S. Turgenev, for example, in the roles of Verochka (1879) and Natal’ia Petrovna (1903) in A Month in the Country.
Savina’s tours in Berlin in 1899 helped popularize Russian acting abroad. In 1883–84, Savina helped organize the Russian (present-day All-Russian) Theatrical Society and subsequently served as the society’s chairman. She also helped organize the First All-Russian Congress of Theatrical Workers in 1897. In 1896 she founded a home for aged actors (the present-day Home for Veterans of the Stage of the All-Russian Theatrical Society).