In the heart of the old ArbatRussian: Арбат stands a beautiful columned building, the Vakhtangov TheatreRussian: teatr Vakhtangova or театр Вахтангова, famous for its deeply intellectual performances. Its renowned troupe, talented directors, varied repertoire and deep-rooted traditions have made the theatre popular with Muscovites and visitors to Russia’s capital for the past 95 years.
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A small miracle was required to give rise to the theatre: Yevgeny Vakhtangov staged the parable of Good and Evil, The Miracle of St. AnthonyRussian: Chudo svyatogo Antoniya or Чудо святого Антония, in November 1921 in a difficult social climate – the cold and hungry revolutionary Moscow. No less a miracle was the second production of terminally ill Yevgeny Vakhtangov when he staged the fairy tale, Princess TurandotRussian: Printsessa Turandot or Принцесса Турандот, in February 1922. Airy and flamboyant, it won the hearts of the audience, and it is this production that marked the beginning of the Vakhtangov Theatre, whose lightness in production and unusual performances became its hallmarks.
Yevgeny Vakhtangov was a student of Stanislavsky. Vakhtangov’s own students — Cecilia Mansurova, Yuri Zavadsky and Boris Shchukin — formed the backbone of the new theatre’s troupe. The Vakhtangov Theatre School, which was destined to become one of the best acting schools of the country, soon opened under the auspices of the Vakhtangov Theatre. The legendary ‘ShchukaRussian: Щука’ (‘pike’ – the nickname given to the Shchukin Theatre InstituteRussian: teatralnyi institut im. Schukina or театральный институт им. Щукина) graduated a host of renowned Russian actors and directors, such as Yuri Lyubimov, Vladimir Etush, Rolan Bykov and Sergei Makovetsky. Today, you can appreciate and enjoy the acting of the brilliant old guard (Vasily Lanovoy, Vladimir Etush and Lyudmila Maksakova), the excellent ‘middle generation’ of actors (Yevgeny Knyazev and Sergei Makovetsky) and the talented ‘youth’ (Alexander Oleshko and Nonna Grishayeva).
The Vakhtangov Theatre stages productions of various genres, including classic tragedies (MedeaRussian: Медея by Euripides) and mischievous vaudevilles (Mam’zelle NitoucheRussian: Madmuazel Nitush or Мадмуазель Нитуш by F. Hervé). Rimas Tuminasthe Artistic director of the Moscow Vakhtangov theatre since 2007’ hit productions of A. Chekhov’s Uncle VanyaRussian: Dyadya Vanya or Дядя Ваня and of A. Pushkin’s Eugene OneginRussian: Евгений Онегин demonstrate that this theatre excels at staging the classics.
Tuminas’ productions became quite an event in Moscow’s cultural life. Drawing inspiration from texts known to Russian audiences since their school days, he reinterpreted them, recasting them in a whole new light. In Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya Rimas Tuminas saw a theatre based on the absurd, where people say one thing, think another and do something completely different entirely. The characters in this drama by Chekhov are usually portrayed as frustrated losers, but Tuminas portrays them to us as people — living, vulnerable, full of passion and unfulfilled hopes. Neither the director nor the actors look down on their characters — on the contrary, they treat them with love and compassion, bringing them to life on the stage.
In Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, which Pushkin himself called an ‘encyclopedia of Russian life’, Tuminas tries to unveil the essence of the Russian soul. Breaking the stereotypes associated with the work, he reveals the controversial Russian character, сombining love and hatred, openheartedness and reserve, recklessness and responsibility. It is Sergei Makovetsky who stars in both productions (Voynitsky in Uncle Vanya and Onegin in Eugene Onegin).
Since 2008, the Vakhtangov Theatre has been in the process of updating its stage equipment and now boasts outstanding light and sound. The building’s décor was restored in 2011, along with the renovation of the auditorium. Performances take place on two stages: the Big Stage seats up to 1055, and the Small stage up to 250 people. Both venues give everyone in the audience a good view, but the Small Stage features adjustable seats, which allows the director to change their configuration as the need arises. A special platform is designed to lift stage sets weighing up to 3.5 tons, and a special lift ensures that persons with disabilities are able to access the premises in comfort. The so-called Art CaféRussian: Арт-кафе – the theatre’s “special third stage” – hosts meetings with spectators, poetry readings and musical performances by the Vakhtangov Orchestra. This cozy and well-designed auditorium has a small stage and tables for spectators who can relax and absorb the atmosphere. A museum, opened on the initiative of Vakhtangov’s students, has been open in the theatre since 1931. It gives visitors the opportunity to have a look at the scripts of plays staged here, hear the recordings of directors and actors, see posters, photographs and many other materials relating to the theatre’s activities.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com