- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
April 09, 2004

From Russia with Love: Popular Moscow theater troupe visits Yerevan

This week theater fans of Yerevan were given an exceptional opportunity to enjoy the leading actors of Russia’s Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre.

During a three-day tour actors from the popular theater performed “Ode to Eve”, by French playwright Eric Schmidt, staged by Sergey Yashin. The tour was organized by Stage Crossroad cultural center.

Knyazev and Lanovoy performing in Yerevan.

“The last time I came to a theater was 10 years ago, but the desire to see the play of these actors was so great that I gave half of my monthly pension to buy a ticket and came here from Ashtarak,” says Ruzanna Karapetyan, 65.

Despite above average prices, at 500-6000 drams (about 90 cents to $11), the hall was full. According to director of Stage Crossroad center Hakob Ghazanchyan, one always faces doubts when organizing such tours.

“It is no secret that today’s audience prefers fun and self-created humor. However, today’s full halls gave us hope that there is still a need for real art,” says Ghazanchyan.

The premiere of the play took place in Moscow five years ago, but even today it’s one of the leading plays of the theater.

Vasili Lanovoy plays a writer, a Nobel Prize winner, Abel Znorko and the role of the other hero Eric Larsen is played by Yevgeni Knyazev, who unlike Lanovoy performed in Armenia for the first time.

“I came to Armenia back in Soviet years and liked very much both your country and its people,” said Knyazev, a People’s Artist of Russia. “There was a time when I could read and speak Armenian, but unfortunately I’ve forgotten.”

According to his partner Lanovoy they are not guests here.

“Our theater has blood ties with Armenian people for the simple reason that our theater is a cultural home founded by Armenian Yevgeni Vakhtangov, and traditions that are formed there are tightly connected with Armenia,” says Lanovoy.

In 1921 “The Miracle of Saint Antonio”, staged by Vakhtangov became the base for creating a new theater in Moscow. The third studio of Moscow's Fine Arts Theater was renamed for Vakhtangov in 1926.

Vakhtangov died in 1922 at the age of 39. But he is still remembered for his staging of “Miracle”, “Wedding” and “Princess Turandot”.

Vakhtangov's interpretations – staged with deep realistic interpretation and bright, festive moods -- became a base for a new direction in theater art.

“No festivity, no play,” Vakhtangov would say.

The characters created by him would show life in a grotesque, underlined way and with sharp contradictions.

After Vakhtangov's death his theatre was directed by Ruben Simonov and his son Yevgeny Simonov who also had Armenian roots. And today his traditions are kept and developed as time demands by its artistic director Mikhail Ulianov.

In Yerevan the actors also met with students and professors of Slavic University who prepared a small event in honor of the actors.

Vasili Lanovoy and Yevgeni Knyazev were welcomed in Yerevan with loud applause and warm greetings with flowers. According to Lanovoy, who has played many stages of the world, the Armenian audience has special warmth that can touch even the most arrogant actor.

“From the very airport a feeling of something dear covers me,” the actor said. “Back in those years and today I always used the opportunity to visit Armenia. Today, at first glance, it may seem that we're sort of detached from each other but the art of theater that Russian and Armenian people have gives us a possibility to communicate despite some difficulties and due to those who are devoted to theater.”

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Plane Beautiful

Wednesday (April 7) was "Day of Mothers and Beauty" in Armenia. At Zvartnots International Airport, staff greeted girls and women with flowers -- one small step for womenkind, one giant leap for civility in civil aviation.



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