Vakhtangov Theater

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vakhtangov Theater


(Evg. Vakhtangov State Academic Theater, awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor), a drama theater in Moscow. Organized in 1921; first named the Vakhtangov Studio (Third Studio of the Moscow Art Theater). The theater has had its present name since 1926.

E. B. Vakhtangov, the theater’s founder, was a student and follower of K. S. Stanislavsky. He tried to create a theater in harmony with the Revolution and permeated with the spirit of modernity, and he attained a vivid and incisive theatrical form. An event of considerable importance was Vakhtangov’s staging of Gozzi’s play Turandot (1922); it was distinguished by optimism and joy in life. To a large extent it determined the stylistic traits of the theater’s creative character. The production was characterized by the lightness and grace of its set, musicality, and rhythmic stage action. Subsequently, revolutionary plays and contemporary drama became the most important part of the theater’s repertoire. Among the plays staged during the 1920’s and 1930’s were Virineia by Seifiillina and Pravdukhin (1925, director A. D. Popov); The Badgers by Leonov (1927, director B. E. Zakhava) ; The Breakup by Lavrenev ( 1927, director Popov) ; Intervention by Slavin (1933, director R. N. Simonov); The Aristocrats by Pogodin (1935, director Zakhava); anal Am a Son of the Working People by Kataev (1938, director Simonov). The theater’s most important productions were Gorky’s Egor Bulychov and the Others (1932, director Zakhava; B. V. Shchukin as Bulychov) and the play that began the stage history of creating the character of V. I. Lenin in the Soviet theater, Pogodin’s Man With a Gun (1937, director Simonov), with B. V. Shchukin as Lenin.

Comedy has been important to the Vakhtangov Theater. Optimism, musical expressiveness, brilliant virtuosity, and a festive atmosphere marked the productions of Lev Gurych Sinichkin by Lenskii (1924), Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare (1936), An Italian Straw Hat by Labiche (1939), Mam’zelle Nitouche by Hervé (1944), and others.

During the Great Patriotic War the Vakhtangov Theater worked in Omsk (1941-43). Lofty patriotism and larger-than-life character portrayal distinguished the productions of Korneichuk’s The Front (1942, with A. D. Dikii in the role of Ivan Gorlov), Simonov’s The Russian People (1942), Oleko Dundich by Kats and Rzheshevskii (1942, with R. N. Simonov in the role of Dundich), and others. In 1942 an affiliate of the Vakhtangov Theater was established to perform at the front. Among the Vakhtangov Theater’s best productions are Korneichuk’s Makar Dubrava (1948), De Filippo’s F Hume na Marturano (1956), Arbuzov’s IrkutskStory (1959), Sofronov’s The Cook (1959), Maliugin’s LuckLaughs at Me (1965), Red Cavalry, based on Babel’s stories (1966), Virineia by Seifullina and Pravdukhin (1967), and Korneichuk’s The Heart’s Remembrance (1970). Classical drama has also been presented, including Hauptmann’s Before Sunset (1941 and 1954), Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac (1942), Down the Gold Mine by Mamin-Sibiriak (1955), Foma Gordeev, based on Gorky’s novel (1956), Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1958, with M. F. Astangov as Hamlet), The Idiot, based on Dostoevsky’s novel (1958), Pushkin’s Little Tragedies (1959), L. N. Tolstoy’s The Living Corpse (1962), The Trap, based on Zola’s work (1965), Gorky’s Children of the Sun (1968), and Ostrovskii’s Even a Wise Man Stumbles (1968). In 1970 the theater again produced the play Man With a Gun (with M. A. Ul’ianov in the role of Lenin).

Among actors and directors who have worked in the Vakhtangov Theater and made important contributions to establishing its status are B. E. Zakhava, Iu. A. Zavadskii, B. V. Shchukin, A. D. Dikii, A. D. Popov, V. V. Kuza, A. A. Orochko, O. N. Basov, A. I. Goriunov, N. P. Okhlopkov, O. F. Glazunov, M. S. Derzhavin, M. F. Astangov, S. V. Luk’ianov, and many others. R. N. Simonov was a leading actor and director in the Vakhtangov Theater, and from 1939 to 1968 he was its artistic director.

As of 1970 the Vakhtangov Theater’s company included People’s Artists of the USSR A. L. Abrikosov, lu. K. Borisova, N. O. Gritsenko, Ts. L. Mansurova, N. S. Plotnikov, I. M. Tolchanov, M. A. Ul’ianov; People’s Artists of the RSFSR D. A. Andreeva, N. N. Bubnov, V. G. Kol’tsov, V. I. Osenev, L. A. Pashkova, A. I. Remizova, N. P. Rusinova, M. D. Sinel’nikova, N. D. Timofeev, L. V. Tselikovskaia, lu. V. Iakovlev; Honored Art Worker of the RSFSR V. K. L’vova, and others. Since 1968 People’s Artist of the RSFSR E. R. Simonov has been the theater’s principal director. The Shchukin Theater School is attached to the Vakhtangov Theater.


Vakhtangov, E. B. Zapiski: Pis’ma: Dnevniki. Moscow, 1959.
Gorchakov, N. M. Rezhirsserskie uroki Vakhtangova. Moscow, 1958.
Zakhava, B. E. Vakhtangov i ego studiia, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
Zakhava, B. E. Sovremenniki. Moscow, 1969.
Simonov R. S Vakhtangovym. Moscow, 1959.
Tolchanov, I. Moi roli. Moscow, 1961.
Khersonskii, Kh. N. Vakhtangov. Moscow, 1963.
B. V. Shchukin: Stat’i: Vospominaniia: Materialy. Moscow, 1963.
Teatr imeni Evg. Vakhtangova: 20 let. Moscow, 1946.


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