Ivan Bersenev

Bersenev, Ivan Nikolaevich


(pseudonym of I. N. Pavlishchev). Born Apr. 11 (23), 1889, in Moscow; died there on Dec. 25, 1951. Soviet Russian actor and director. People’s Artist of the USSR (1948). Professor. Member of the CPSU from 1947. Attended the University of Kiev. Studied at E. A. Lepkovskii’s dramatic school.

Bersenev began his stage activity in 1907 in Kiev. In 1911 he joined the Moscow Art Theater troupe, in which he played the roles of the investigator (The Live Corpse by L. N. Tolstoy), Petr Verkhovenskii (Nikolai Stavrogin, based on Dostoevsky’s novel The Devils), and others. Between 1924 and 1936 he was an actor, and from 1928 he was simultaneously one of the artistic directors, of the second Moscow Art Academic Theater. His roles included Boris Godunov (The Death of Ivan the Terrible by A. K. Tolstoy), Minutka (The Spendthrift by Leskov), Iudushka Golovlev (Shade of the Liberator by Sukhotin, based on Saltykov-Shchedrin’s work The Golovlev Family), Pierre Massoubre (Prayer for Life by Deval), and others. He was active as a director from 1925. His first significant production was Afinogenov’s The Eccentric (1929, with A. I. Cheban); Bersenev played the role of Gorskii.

From 1936 to 1938, Bersenev worked at the Moscow Oblast Soviet of Trade Unions Theater. There he staged Afinogenov’s Hail, Spain! (1936) and other productions; he played the role of Don Juan (The Stone Guest by Pushkin). From 1938 he was artistic director and leading actor of the Lenin Komsomol Theater.

His directing and acting work was characterized by a high level of culture, acute publicism, and clarity of ideological conception. Working in collaboration with playwrights, he created a number of productions in which the image of the contemporary Soviet positive hero was central: A Lad From Our City by Simonov (1941), Thus It Will Be by Simonov (1944; Bersenev playing the role of Colonel Savel’ev), The Front by Korneichuk (1942; Bersenev playing the role of Miron Gorlov), The Youth of Fathers by Gorbatov (1943), For Those Who Are in the Sea! by Lavrenev (1947), and others. He also staged My Son by Gergei and Litovskii (1939) and other works. His most important roles were Helmer (A Doll’s House by Ibsen; produced by Bersenev and S. V. Giatsintova), Protasov (The Live Corpse by Tolstoy), Cyrano de Bergerac (the play of the same name by Rostand), and others.

Bersenev appeared in films beginning in 1914. He was the first to perform the role of Pavel Vlasov (in the film Mother, 19l0, after the novel by M. Gorky). His best work was the role of Kartashov in the film Great Citizen. He taught at the A. V. Lunacharskii State Institute of Theater Arts.

He was awarded the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and medals.


Vendrovskaia, L. I. N. Bersenev. Moscow, 1950.
Ivan Nikolaevich Bersenev: sb. statei. Moscow, 1950.
Birman, S. Put’ aktrisy. Moscow, 1959.