EVGENIY BOGRATIONOVICH VAKHTANGOV (1913-1922)

 

The history of Theater named after Evg.Vakhtangov began well before his birth. At the end of 1913 a group of very young students from Moscow organized a Students’ Dramatic Studio, having made their decision to pursue theater arts by Stanislavskiy’s method. EvgeniyBogrationovichVakhtangov, a thirty years old actor and director of the Arts theater, who has already got the name of the best educator by Stanislavskiy “method”, agreed to become a chief of the classes.

They decided to begin with a performance – they chose B.Zaitcev’s stage play “Manor of Lanins”, which was written in gentle Chekhov’s tinges. The Studio didn’t have its own premise, every day they gathered in a new place: now in tiny rooms of small studios then in a living room of some private flat rented for an evening. Everything seemed romantic. Three months later, on the 29th of 1914 “Manor of Lanins” was performed in Hunting club.
The performance was staged in “clothes” – it became fashionable that time and there was no money for special decoration. They bought a cheap bagging painted in a loden colour, several pots with property-room lilac represented a terrace. In order to enhance the sense of spring charm the whole scene was perfumed by cologne “Lilac”. However they played with diffidence, humbly, it was impossible to hear some actors. But happy actors even didn’t notice their failure – they went to restaurant to celebrate their first performance, then they walked along Moscow nightlong together with Vakhtangov, and in the morning, when they bought fresh newspaper, laughed at slashing reviews.

After such disgrace the directorate of the Arts Theater forbade Vakhtangov any work on the side and the Studio decided to “go underground”. In autumn 1914 the Studio has already settled in a small flat in Mansurovskiy side street on Ostozhenka (then it was named - “Mansurovskaya”).
Vakhtangov’s relations with the Studio resembled love – with jealousy, endless sorting out of relations, impatience, tragic breach and new rapprochement. The most horrible day for him was the day when in 1919 twelve gifted Studio members left the Studio. Vakhtangov was heartbroken, you know, it was his house.
In 1917 when it emerged from the «underground» former Mansurovskaya was called “Moscow Dramatic Studio of E.B.Vakhtangov”. Young people from other studios came, enrollment for the first year of the school was declared – B.Shukin and C.Mansurov appeared in such a way, then R.Simonov, A.Remizov, M.Sinelnikov, E. Alekseeva followed.
Rehearsals continued. Meterlink’s “Miracle of saint Antony”, performed as early as in 1918, was renewed in new cast, in summer Vakhtangov put on stage Chekhov’s “Wedding”.
On the 13th of 1920 E.B.Vakhtangov’s Studio was admitted to the family of the Art Theater named after its Third studio. On the 29th of January 1921 first performance of the second version of “Miracle of Saint Antony” was shown.

On the 13th of November 1921 a permanent theater of the Third MHT Studio was opened at address: “Arbat, 26” (in the place where Theater named after Evg. Vakhtangov is still located). Berg’s mansion was obtained by the Studio for itself as early as previous summer and a profound repair has been made for the past time. In the honour of its opening “Miracle of Saint Antony” was performed. This date is considered to be the date of birth of Vakhtangov’s theater.
On the night of twenty third / twenty fourth of February 1922 the last rehearsal of “Princess Turandot” took place. Vakhtangov rehearsed in a fur coat with a head wrapped with a wet towel, he felt algor. He himself set the light, induced the actors to stay for a long time in the same mise en scene. At four o’clock at night he gathered all actors and gave a command: “The whole stage play – from the beginning to the end!”
When he came back home towards morning he lied and didn’t get up. On the 31stof May Vakhtangov was buried – his students and friends carried the eternity box with his body in their arms from the Studio to the Novo-Dyevitchiye cemetery.