Evgeny Bagrationovich Vakhtangov is a legendary man, a great actor, teacher, director, student of K. G. Stanislavsky, the founder of the student studio and later the theater, named after the death of the master by his name. His entire short but bright life was devoted to creativity. Vakhtangov staged his first performance on stage when he was only 25 years old.
A friend and teacher of Evgeny Vakhtangov - K. G. Stanislavsky highly appreciated his creative activity. He called him the successor of his work and one of the founders of a new art and a new direction - fantastic realism.
Childhood and adolescence E. B. Vakhtangov
Eugene was born in the south, in the city of Vladikavkaz, in 1883, on February 13. His biography is full of significant events, and during his not very long life Vakhtangov became one of the most significant figures in the theater.
When a boy was born in the family, his father dreamed that he would continue his business, developing the tobacco industry in Russia, because he was a large owner of factories.
The family raised the boy in strict traditions and, at the behest of his father, after graduating from the gymnasium, Vakhtangov goes to get an education at the university: first, at the faculty of natural sciences, and then transferred to law. But already during his studies, he realizes that he cannot become a lawyer, because he is unrestrainedly drawn to the theatrical stage.
Eugene leaves the university and enters the Theater School of Drama, after which, in 1911, he receives a referral to an art theater. During his studies, he gets acquainted with Stanislavsky and his new methods of working with actors, which he begins to actively promote among creative youth and receives support for his activities from the great master.
The decision to leave the university and take up theater, taken by Eugene, did not receive approval from his father. He did not support art and creativity, as a result, he broke off all relations with his son, completely depriving him of his inheritance.
The beginning of the creative path
While still at the university, Vakhtangov takes an active part in student performances and theatrical performances. As a sophomore, he directed the play "Teachers", which premiered in 1905. Students worked for free, raising funds to help the homeless and needy. After the successful premiere of the play, a year later, Eugene organizes a student theater studio at the university and dreams of creating his own theater in Vladikavkaz.
Since 1909, Vakhtangov has been actively working and leading a drama circle. He has staged many performances on the theater stage of his city. But fate forced him to leave for Moscow after a while. The father was extremely unhappy that his surname appeared on the theatrical posters of the city, thereby damaging his activities and reputation. That is why Vakhtangov's theatrical career in his hometown never took place.
After moving to Moscow, Evgeny begins to work actively in the art theater, where he participates in all productions.
Being an adherent of Stanislavsky's methodology, in 1912 Vakhtangov organized the Moscow Art Theater Studio. He is assisted by a well-known theatrical teacher - Leopold Sulerzhitsky. The teaching of acting that they offer to students is based on morality, sincerity, honesty, kindness and fairness. All of Vakhtangov's productions on the stage of the theater are based on the opposition to good and evil (the performances "The Flood", "The Festival of Peace", "Rosmersholm"). For the actors, the most important thing was to convey to the viewer the richness of the inner world in contrast to the asceticism of the outer.
Vakhtangov is invited to teach at many theaters and schools in the capital, he helps creative youth who create amateur theaters in choosing a repertoire and teaches the acting skills of future theater workers. Most often, Evgeny Bagrationovich visits the Mansurov studio, to which he treats with trepidation and love. It was this studio that in 1920 would be called the Drama Studio, and later - the State Academic Theater, which would later be named after Yevgeny Vakhtangov.
Theater in the fate of Vakhtangov
All the productions that the director carried out after the revolution were based on the fate of the Russian people, their experiences and aspirations associated with the history and events of recent years. He talked about social problems, heroic deeds and life tragedies.
At the same time, Vakhtangov puts on chamber performances, in which he acts not only as a director, but also as an actor. He is constantly in a creative search, exploring new techniques and techniques. Gradually, he ceases to be satisfied with Stanislavsky's approach and the framework with which he limited the actors.
Eugene's next hobby is Meyerhold's ideas, and he works on new characters and plays with a completely renewed approach. But this method does not inspire Vakhtangov for a long time and gradually he develops his own technique, which is significantly different from those that he used earlier. Vakhtangov calls it "fantastic realism" and creates his own, unique theater.
As a teacher and director, the main thing for him was to find that unique image created by the actor, which would be different from the one already proposed and used in the theater. He begins to make productions that are completely different from those to which the audience is accustomed. For the scenery, ordinary household items were taken and decorated with the help of light and decoration so as to create a fabulous view of the premises or cities in which the action takes place. In order to completely separate the theatrical performance from the real world, and the actor from his role, Vakhtangov invites performers to put on costumes right in front of the audience, over their own clothes. All his ideas were fully embodied in the famous play "Princess Turandot".
After the revolution, Vakhtangov is going to create a folk theater, different from those that were in tsarist Russia, in order to bring the theatrical art as close as possible to the people. He is constantly working on new projects, intending to embody the images of great people and their history on stage. His plans included staging the play "Cain" based on the work of Byron and the Bible. But, unfortunately, all these ideas were not destined to come true in connection with the death of Vakhtangov.
Family and the last year of life
As a university student, Eugene met his school friend, Nadezhda Mikhailovna Boytsurova. They carried their love for each other throughout their lives.
Nadezhda Mikhailovna was Vakhtangov's only wife, and she gave him a son, Sergei.
In the last years of his life, Evgeny Bagrationovich was diagnosed with a tumor, but even being ill, he continued rehearsals of the play "Princess Turandot", which became the director's last production and opened a new direction in the theatrical art.
Since February 1922, Vakhtangov no longer got out of bed and died in the arms of his wife on May 29, 1922. He was 39 years old.
E. B. Vakhtangov was buried in Moscow at the Novodevichy cemetery.