Simonov, Ruben Nikolaevich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Simonov, Ruben Nikolaevich


Born Mar. 20 (Apr. 1), 1889, in Moscow; died there Dec. 5, 1968. Soviet actor and stage director. People’s Artist of the USSR (1946).

Simonov studied in the department of law at Moscow University. In 1919 hejoined the F. I. Chaliapin Performing Drama Studio, and in 1920 he began acting at the Third Studio of the Moscow Art Theater (called the Vakhtangov Theater since 1926). In 1924 he began directing plays at the Vakhtangov Theater and in 1939 became the theater’s principal stage director. Working in the tradition of Vakhtangov, Simonov approached each performance as if it were a festive occasion, developing his characters from various points of view and acting with artistry, elegance, and poetic inspiration.

Simonov’s interpretations of his early roles, which included Dymba in Chekhov’s The Wedding and Truflaldino and Panta-lone in Gozzi’s Turandot, were characterized by grotesque mannerisms and strong stylization. Simonov later significantly deepened the psychological interpretation of his roles, still retaining a certain theatricality tempered by attention to the polished and refined appearance of his characters. He revealed a brilliant flair for comedy in the roles of the Viceroy in Méri-mée’s The Carriage of the Holy Sacrament, Benedick in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and Domenico Soriano in De Filippo’s Filumena Marturano. Simonov lent tragic overtones to the role of Kostia, the Captain in Pogodin’s The Aristocrats, and portrayed the title roles in Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Rzheshevskii and Kats’ Oleko Dundić as heroic and romantic figures.

As a director, Simonov was known for the deep civic spirit of his stagings, complete understanding of the ideas in the plays, and expressive manner of their presentation. He staged Slavin’s The Intervention (1933), Korneichuk’s The Front (1942), Gorky’s Foma Gordeev (1956), L. N. Tolstoy’s The Living Corpse (1962), and Stel’makh’s Truth and Falsehood (1964). His staging of Pogodin’s Man With a Gun (1937) was an important landmark in the development of Soviet theater. Simonov also staged comedies, for example, Hervé’s Mam’zelle Nitouch (1944) and Sofronov’s The Cook (1959).

From 1928 to 1937, Simonov headed the studio known as the R. N. Simonov Theater-Studio. At the Bolshoi Theater he staged several operas, including Paliashvili’s Abesalom and Eteri (1938) and Bizet’s Carmen (1945). He directed the First, Second, and Third Armenian studios and the Uzbek Studio in Moscow and taught at the B. V. Shchukin Theatrical School, where he became a professor in 1946. Simonov was awarded the Lenin Prize (1967) and the State Prize of the USSR (1943, 1947, 1950). He was awarded two orders of Lenin, two other orders, and various medals.


S Vakhtangovym. Moscow, 1959.


Markov, P. A. Teatral’nye portrety. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Markov, P. A. “R. N. Simonov ν ‘Aristokratakh’ Pogodina.” Pravda teatra. Moscow, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.