On the podium: Sergey Gazarov, Alexander Kibovsky, Alexander Shirvindt, Mamed Agayev.

On the podium: Sergey Gazarov, Alexander Kibovsky, Alexander Shirvindt, Mamed Agayev.

Photo: Anastasia Pleshakova

On October 13, a new artistic director was presented at the Moscow Satire Theater. The “presentation” was held informally.

On this occasion, a general gathering was announced. An unprecedented event in the last 20 plus years. That is how much Alexander Shirvindt directed the theater. The whole troupe came. Some on foot, some leaning on a cane, some were led out by the arm … As Shirvindt will joke later: yes, we have an almshouse.

– Everyone over 90 sat in the first row, – 76-year-old People’s Artist Natalya Selezneva shared her observation. And she sat down in the second row to the “youth” – 60+. The first, indeed, accommodated the People’s Artist of the USSR, 96-year-old Vera Vasilyeva, and the People’s Artist of the RSFSR, 91-year-old Zoya Zelinskaya.

Vera Visilieva and Natalya Zashchipina.  To their right, in the distance, is Zoya Zelinskaya.

Vera Visilieva and Natalya Zashchipina. To their right, in the distance, is Zoya Zelinskaya.

Photo: Anastasia Pleshakova

Natalia Selezneva wearing a mask.

Natalia Selezneva wearing a mask.

Photo: Anastasia Pleshakova

– Kuzya, how are you? – Selezneva turned tenderly to Vera Kuzminichna. – Seryozha, how are you? – asked the actor Sergei Churbakov. Natalya Igorevna has not been to her native theater for several years. I was sick. And today I was glad to see everyone (or almost everyone).

– While I work … The joke of the day, – Churbakov answered her urgently.

The new artistic director is that new broom, which is still unknown in which direction there will be revenge.

The head of the Moscow Department of Culture, Alexander Kibovsky, retired Alexander Shirvindt, his replacement, Satire’s artistic director Sergei Gazarov, and theater director Mamed Agayev took the stage.

“I’ll have a short message: there was a big innovation yesterday,” said Kibovsky. – Our esteemed Alexander Anatolyevich Shirvindt had his last working day as artistic director of the theater. Today is the first working day for Sergei Gazarov in a new capacity. For a year I resisted Shirvindt’s decision to resign. I mocked him. Therefore, today I need the support of the audience (troupe) so that Alexander Anatolyevich remains in the theater and continues to work in some other capacity. Before we disperse, we must decide which one …

While Kibovsky spoke, actors from the old guard were whispering behind me: “What a nightmare! Shura is leaving, we can’t believe our ears. “

Following Kibovsky, Sergei Gazarov took the floor:

– Today is a very exciting day for me. Just sitting in the artistic director’s chair is not about me. I understand the pros and cons of this appointment, as well as I understand where I came – to the legendary theater. I think I know how to develop this theater, in which direction to move and, most importantly, how long the result should be. Any work is determined by the result. But I agree: Alexander Anatolyevich (Shirvindt) cannot just go and leave. I also think: he should continue to work in any capacity. For example, the acting (and not the nominal) president of the theater …

“Well, like Putin,” Selezneva said in an undertone.

– But he has already taken out things, – Kibovskiy was indignant. In fact, Shirvindt vacated his office in the summer. – After so many years, it’s so easy to take and leave! .. It’s impossible. We must support Gazarov’s initiative. Collective, I ask you to support Shirvindt as president …

The audience applauded. After that, Aleksandr Anatolyevich, who was a little tired of the “resignation” that had lasted for more than a year, took the floor:

– What’s nice about today’s mise-en-scène: it’s that we are together. We have it like: either the ex-artistic director is in exile, or he is carried out of the theater with his feet, and at this time a new artistic director walks past the coffin. I am glad that an acceptable version of this whole case is outlined in our theater.

The theater president is, of course, an insane notion. Firstly, this is an elective position (Shirvindt paused) … Your applause is not enough (applause followed). Good. Secondly, the president of the theater is some kind of mysticism, but interesting … (a year ago Shirvindt said that he would never become president of the theater – Ed.). I could just as well be the president of the underpass. Also a beautiful post. People will pass by me, and I will sit with an outstretched hand, – Alexander Anatolyevich joked.

– But seriously: fifty-two years – in the Theater of Satire. In general, I have been in this production (theatrical) for 66 years. It’s a lot. Just slam the door … Why, why? There is nothing to be offended at. All of you are dear people. We have a family with all the differences in our existence. I just want to tell Serezhenka (Gazarov) that with all his talent and personality, so that he does not replace creativity with repression. Of course, one way or another there will be a need for an infusion of new blood, muscles are needed. But respect for those sitting here is necessary. I understand: we have already taken root here, got used to each other. When we are reproached for the fact that we have an almshouse … Yes, an almshouse (laughter in the hall). But our theater is very good (laughter again).

We are accused of being old-fashioned, but objectively speaking, we have a diverse repertoire. We often have performances that are significant and very metropolitan. And we are always fine with the training camps, which is important. There was a time when we were in the lead (in terms of fees). It’s harder now …

Yes, the last period was very difficult. It is very convenient to refer to this pandemic. And yet not only she … Who is to blame? Well, of course I am. By the end of last season, when I said to Kibovsky: let’s think something, I had four distributions in my desk (for future productions). This is a play by Grigory Gorin “The Plague on Both Your Houses” (it was assumed that the director would be Anton Yakovlev). We settled on a very interesting notion “Balalaikin and Co” (Sergei Gazarov was supposed to stage).

Andryusha Maximov was going to work on our small stage. Max Averin came to me with a crazy idea for the musical “Kid and Carlson” …

Maxim Averin.

Maxim Averin.

Photo: Anastasia Pleshakova

But I thought: a new artistic director will come in the new season. Suppose all my ideas do not suit him. Imagine if it was all at work, what an insane asylum it would be. Here’s how our situation is.

I will not torment you anymore, I will just say that very modern people work in the Satire Theater. Today we are receiving our new artistic director. And today the chairman of the State Duma is appointed. This is very significant. There are no more patriots like us. Everything is like in the Duma.

– Dear colleagues, I won’t just leave. I need a management decision, ”Kibovsky took the floor again. We have never seen such a persistent head of Moscow culture. – I demand that we vote. Who is in favor of Alexander Anatolyevich continuing to work in the theater as president? – the audience raised their hands. – Unanimously. I ask you to record this. Alexander Anatolyevich, we will force you to this work….

Shirvindt didn’t really resist. Leaning on a cane, he left the hall with everyone. As we understood, Alexander Anatolyevich will play the role of a buffer, “dissolving” or, better to say, “soft power” between the new artistic director Sergei Gazarov and the theater director Mamed Agayev. The relationship between them, let’s say, is not very …

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