Evgeny Simonov – Chief Director (1969-1987)

Ruben Simonov passed away on the 5th of December 1968. The Evgeny Vakhtangov Theatre suggested Evgeny Simonov to lead the way of the troupe. He left Maly Theatre and since January 1969 officially became Chief Director of The Vakhtangov Theatre. 

The rise of The Vakhtangov Theatre at the turn of 1960s owes much to Evgeny Simonov. He was an easy, light-hearted and amiable man, who perfectly knew poetry, who was in love with music. He was a visionary and an amazing storyteller. Simonov was an adept of the idea about the poetic, elevating theatre, which, unfortunately, he didn’t fully bring to life.   

Evgeny Simonov ruled The Theatre for almost eighteen years. He regularly put up performances, but the life of the troupe was fading. Simonov tried to stage something big and important, but it never brought any artistic success.

However these years brought success to many actors of The Theatre.

In 1968 Larisa Pashkova did a brilliant part of Melania in Maxim Gorky’s “Children of the Sun” staged by Evgeny Simonov.

Yuliya Borisova played in the performance “Antony and Cleopatra” directed by Evgeny Simonov. Huge success was awaiting her.

In a Croatian drama “The Glembays” by Miroslav Krleza (directed by Miroslav Belovich) starred such actors as Grigory Abrikosov (old man Ignat), Yury Yakovlev (artist Leon), Lyudmila Maksakova (sleek and thrifty baroness), Vasily Lanovoy (confessor Zilberbrant), Evgeny Karelskikh (evil legal adviser), Vladimir Osenev (cynical Fabrizio) and Vladimir Ivanov (young Oliver).

The performance “Grand Magic”, which was the second performance put on by Miroslav Belovich, lent ?clat to several actors: Yury Yakovlev played the part of a na?ve kidult, who loves to philosophosize, Vladimir Etush embodied “the wizard” Marvuglio, Lyudmila Maksakova played his extravagant and enchanting wife Dzajra and actors Alla Kazanskaya, Elena Dobronravova and Vyacheskav Dugin played the Di Spelta family. 

Among artistic triumphs of Vasily Lanovoy most notable are the parts of Protasov in “Children of the Sun” (1968), Octavian, who craved for power, in Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” released in1971 (this role became one of the best appearances of Vasily Lanovoy) and Ognev in the performance “The Front” (1975).

In those years Shakepeare’s Antony became the significant part for Mikhail Ulyanov. A sort of a variation on that character was the figure of Vasily Shukshin’s Stepan Razin in the performance directed by Ulyanov. But the strongest work of Mikhail Ulyanov in those years was Shakespeare’s Richard III in the cognominal play staged by Armenian director Rachya Kaplanyan in 1976.  

In the end of 1960s and in 1970s new actors joined the troupe, among them were Irina Kupchenko, Marianna Vertinskaya, Valentina Malyavina, Victor Zozulin, Evgeny Karelskikh, Yury Shlykov, Aleksandr Pavlov, Oleg Forostenko, Eleonora Shashkova, Nina Ruslanova, Vladimir Ivanov and Aleksandr Galevsky. All of them were involved in the core repertoire. 

The audience adored comedies. In the performance “Hearse of Worse”(“A vos souhaits!”) by Pierre Chesnot (1983) in a light and graceful manner played Vladimir Etush, Marianna Vertinskaya, Vladimir Ivanov, Veronica Vasilieva and Agnessa Peterson. A lot of young incoming actors appeared in the performance “Old Russian Vaudevilles” (1980). Among them were Vladimir Simonov, Sergey Makovetsky, Olga Chipovskaya, Aleksandr Ryshenkov. The stars of the theatre – Vasily Lanovoy, Lyudmila Maksakova and Lyudmila Tselikovskaya - kept rejoicing the viewers. 

 “Three ages of Casanova”, based on the plays by Marina Tsvetaeva “Adventure” and “Phoenix”, was a great success with the public. It was a romantic performance that showed Casanova consequently when he was young (Evgeny Knyazev) with Henrietta (Elena Sotnikova), middle-aged (Vasily Lanovoy) with Mimi (Olga Chipovskaya) and old (Yury Yakovlev) with juvenile Francesca (Olga Gavrilyuk). 

In the wake of restructuring critical articles, reconsidering the history of recent years of The Vakhtangov Theatre, began to appear one after another. The underlying anxiety started to grow. 

Distemper was the sign of that time. With pangs and tortures the Mosow Art Theatre was dividing in two, passions around Ermolova’s Theatre were raging and The Moscow Young Generation Theatre was in a bustle.

On the 25th of December 1987 The Theatre was saying vales to Evgeny Simonov. As he left, he said that he was born in the theatre, that he loves it and harboures no grudge against anybody. The mood was heavy and nobody knew what would happen next. Mikhail Ulyanov, who was about to become the new Artistic Director, pointed out, that the resignation of Evgeny Simonov was a fearful move, but the time indisposed one to charity as The Theatre needed a new beginning.