Strepetova, Polina

Strepetova, Polina (Pelageia) Antip’evna


Born Oct. 4(?), 1850, in Nizhny Novgorod (now Gorky); died Oct. 4 (17), 1903, in St. Petersburg. Russian actress.

Strepetova did not receive formal training for the theater, but she learned much from her fellow performers, including A. I. Shubert, a pupil of M. S. Shchepkin, and her own husband, the actor M. I. Pisarev. Her art was greatly influenced by the aesthetic views of V. G. Belinskiiand N. A. Dobroliubov.

Strepetova made her debut in Rybinsk in 1865. She appeared in provincial theaters, performing in comedies, vaudevilles, dramas, and operettas. Her talent for tragedy was revealed in the roles of Lizaveta in Pisemskii’s A Bitter Fate and Katerina in Os-trovskii’s The Thunderstorm, which she performed in Kazan in 1871 and which became her greatest achievement as an actress. One of her best roles was Stepanida in Potekhin’s The Evil Influence of Money (early 1880’s).

Strepetova was the first Russian actress to reveal the spiritual strength of the Russian woman. In her roles she depicted the Russian woman’s lack of rights and at the same time expressed social protest. Strepetova’s sincerity, spirit, and emotional power compensated for a certain unevenness in her acting and for the lack of a strong physical presence. She was particularly successful in the roles of Mar’ia Andreevna in Ostrovskii’s The Poor Bride and Mar’itsa in Averkiev’s The Old Days in Kashira and in the title role in Ostrovskii and Gedeonov’s Vasilisa Melent’eva.

In 1873, Strepetova acted with the Public Theater in Moscow. She often performed with the Arts Circle directed by A. N. Ostrovskii. In 1880 she performed at the A. A. Brenko Pushkin Theater in Moscow. From 1881 to 1890 and in 1899 and 1900 she was with the company of the St. Petersburg Aleksandrinskii Theater. There she performed a number of new roles, including Kru-chinina in Ostrovskii’s Guilty Though Guiltless and Sarra in Chekhov’s Ivanov. However, conflicts between Strepetova’s ideological and artistic convictions and the conservatism of the imperial theater’s directorship led to her eventual dismissal from the company.

Many persons involved in the arts praised Strepetova’s outstanding gifts as a tragedienne. A. N. Ostrovskii wrote: “As a natural talent, she is a rare, outstanding phenomenon. . . . Her milieu is that of women of the lower and middle classes of society; her inspiration comes from simple, strong passions” (Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 10, 1960, p. 282).


Vospominaniia ipis’ma. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.


P. A. Strepetova: Zhizn i tvorchestvo tragicheskoi aktrisy. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959.
Fel’dman, Z. Polina Antip’evna Strepetova. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Ben’iash, R. M. Pelageia Antip’evna Strepetova. Leningrad, 1967.