Toporkov, Vasilii

Toporkov, Vasilii Osipovich


Born Mar. 4 (16), 1889, in St. Petersburg; died Aug. 25, 1970, in Moscow. Soviet Russian actor. People’s Artist of the USSR (1948). Doctor of art studies (1965).

In 1909, Toporkov graduated from the St. Petersburg Theatrical School. He worked in the St. Petersburg Theater of the Society of Literature and the Arts and later in the former Korsh Theater in Moscow. In 1927 he joined the company of the Moscow Art Theater, where under the direction of K. S. Stanislavsky he performed the roles of Vanechka in Kataev’s The Embezzlers and Chichikov in an adaptation of Gogol’s Dead Souls.

Toporkov was a student and follower of Stanislavsky and a major proponent of the Stanislavsky system. He portrayed the pointedly satirical roles of Orgon in Molière’s Tartuffe and Krugosvetlov in L. N. Tolstoy’s The Fruits of Enlightenment. A number of his roles were imbued with life-asserting force, including Berest in Korneichuk’s Piaton Krechet and Maurice in Kron’s Distant Reconnaissance. His characterizations were noted for the precision of their social analysis and their psychological subtlety and emotional depth. Toporkov was capable of astonishingly vivid portrayals of spiritual crisis, especially in the roles of Myshlaevskii and Bitkov in Bulgakov’s Days of the Turbins and The Last Days.

Toporkov wrote books and articles about Stanislavsky’s teachings, such as Stanislavsky at Rehearsal (Moscow-Leningrad, 1949). He taught at the VI. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko School-Studio, becoming a professor there in 1948.

Toporkov was awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1946 and 1952, as well as two orders and various medals.


Rogachevskii, M. L. V. O. Toporkov. Moscow, 1969.