Iurii Zavadskii

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zavadskii, Iurii Aleksandrovich


Born June 30 (July 12), 1894, in Moscow. Soviet director and actor; People’s Artist of the USSR since 1948. Member of the CPSU since 1944.

Zavadskii began his creative work in 1915 in the Studio of E. B. Vakhtangov, where he played Anthony in The Miracle of St. Anthony by Maeterlinck and Calaf in Turandot by Gozzi. A student of Vakhtangov, Zavadskii absorbed his elegance and strict precision in the external outline of a role and inspired feeling and inner strength in the performance. He made his directorial debut in 1924 with a production of The Marriage by Gogol. From 1924 to 1931 he acted with the Moscow Art Theater, playing Chatskii in Woe From Wit by Griboedov and Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro by Beaumarchais. At the same time (until 1936), he directed the theatrical studio he founded in 1924 (known from 1927 as the Theater-Studio Under the Direction of I. A. Zavadskii), where his productions included One Does Not Play With Love by Musset, Volpone by Ben Johnson, The Devil’s Disciple by Shaw, and The School of Defaulters by Verneuil. During 1932-35 he headed the Central Theater of the Red Army; he conveyed the heroism and order of the Civil War in productions of Prince Mstislav the Bold by Prut (1932) and The Destruction of the Squadron by Korneichuk (1934).

Creatively developing the stage traditions of K. S. Stanislavsky and E. B. Vakhtangov, Zavadskii strove for stylistic clarity of form in his productions and placed great stress on elucidating the author’s intent by ensemble acting. From 1936 to 1940 he headed the Gorky Theater in Rostov-on-Don, where he directed Liubov larovaia by Trenev and The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare. In 1940 he began working as chief director of the Mossovet Theater in Moscow. In the production of Mashenka by Afinogenov (1941), Zavadskii displayed the subtle psychological understanding, gentle humor, and cheerful attitude toward reality that are inherent in his talent. His particularly brilliant comical gift was revealed in the productions of Goldoni’s plays The Innkeeper (1940) andA Funny Episode (1943).

During the period of the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), stern heroic motifs became dominant in his art particularly in such plays devoted to the heroism of the war years as Invasion by Leonov (1943), Encounter in the Dark by Knorre (1944), and The Brandenburg Gates by Svetlov (1946). Among his numerous productions of works by Soviet playwrights are Land Without End by Virta (1957), Battle En Route by Nikolaeva and Radzinskii (1959), Conscience by Pavlova (1963, with A. S. Shaps), and The Storm by Bill’-Belotserkovskii (1967).

His interpretation of classical drama (Shakespeare’s Othello, 1944; Chekhov’s Seagull, 1945; Music’s Madame Minister, 1946; Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1957; and Chekhov’s The Wood Demon, 1960) is imbued with the desire to express the characteristic style and form of the dramas and to link classical works with contemporary times. These productions are distinguished by a sharp and vivid perception of contemporary times and the fusion of lyricism and psychological authenticity with a deeply optimistic tone. Zavadskii’s major productions are Masquerade by Lermontov (1st version, 1952; 2nd version, 1964) and 57. Petersburg Dreams (based on Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment, 1969), which are dominated by a tragic feeling and profound philosophy. In 1965 he was awarded the Lenin Prize for his production of Masquerade. In 1940 he began teaching at the State Institute of Theater Arts, where he be-came a professor in 1947. He received the State Prize of the USSR in 1946 and 1951. Zavadskii has been awarded three orders of Lenin and two other orders, as well as medals.


“Iz opyta rezhissera.” In Rabota reihissera nad sovetskoi p’esoi. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Ob iskusstve teatra. Moscow, 1965.


Obraztsova, A. Teatr im. Mossoveta. [Moscow] 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.