Who if not me?
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Gypsy with an exit and “The night shone”. Okudzhava’s “White Angel” and Pasternak’s Eight Passions. And also memoirs, aphorisms, videos and an exhibition. The Vakhtangov Theater hosted an anniversary meeting of actors and spectators dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the birth of People’s Artist of the USSR Mikhail Ulyanov. Izvestia appreciated the scale and pathos of the event.

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Everyone was invited to the New Stage of the theater, and despite the weekday and daytime, the hall was full. Vakhtangov gathered to honor the memory of the artistic director: masters who were lucky enough to work and be friends with Mikhail Alexandrovich; artists of the middle generation, whose theatrical youth passed during his leadership; those who first stepped on the Vakhtangov stage at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, and very young artists who Ulyanov saw only on the screen and photographs.

The creative meeting was called “Who, if not me?” This is because pthe daughter of the artist Elena explained that at their house, next to the schedule of performances, there was a sheet of paper, which was called the “list of good deeds”. The father on it wrote down the name, surname of the person and how he can help him. Someone had to knock out an apartment, someone to arrange a doctor. Ulyanov did not refuse anyone and crossed the name off the list only when the problem was solved. He said: “Who, if not me?”

Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Volkov

Directors Eldar Tramov and Oleg Makarov placed an empty artistic director’s chair in the back of the stage and lit it up with a single beam. The actors bowed both to the armchair and to the screen with images of Ulyanov. Participants of the action sat on both sides of the stage (experts explained that this is the disposition of the play “Front”), and the place on the left (a table with a lamp, a chair with a carved back) was taken by a people’s artist and rector of the Shchukin school Evgeny Knyazev. Having adopted the timbre and intonations of Ulyanov, he read fragments from his books. Here are a few selected aphorisms from the great artist.

“Sculpt yourself, Mishka!”

“Oh, Mishka, it will be difficult! But take heart. Fight for every little thing in life. You will not be modest (But you will not be impudent either), otherwise they will peck you. Read, learn, add, discard. Sculpt yourself, Mishka, otherwise it will be difficult to live.

“Creative calm is the absolute liberation of consciousness from the pressure of personal passions.”

“In art, who does not go forward, goes back.”

“There are no irreplaceable people, but there are no repeatable ones either. And the larger the personality, the more peculiar the person, the more obvious this well-known truth. You can replace a person in a position, but you can’t replace a person.”

Anniversary Ulyanov

Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Volkov

“Do not moan, do not get tired, know the text by heart, boldly and trustingly go to any tests and look, look, look for the only true option.”

“Not to teach the viewer, but to inflame him – this is the goal of the Vakhtangov. Ignite now with burning love, now with hatred, now with unbridled tenderness, now with stinging irony. Ignite!”

“The Vakhtangov beginning in the theater … what is it? For myself, I define it this way: an excess of the joy of being, the seething power of life, youthfulness of spirit, love for the theater, for my stage, for my role.

“Gypsy” for dessert

After such parting words, the actors simply had to show the “Vakhtangov principle”, and they did it. The event, modestly named “meeting”, became a full-fledged performance. The hero of the day was present in the photo frames on a screen attached to the back of the stage. Childhood, youth, student life, photos with his wife and daughter, film and theater shots passed in succession – everything is as it should be in a family album. For dessert, we saved incendiary shots from the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Igor Moiseev in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. There, Ulyanov, together with Yuri Yakovlev, gave out a gypsy with an exit, delighting the worldly Moiseevites and the hero of the day himself.

Another gift was the unique voice of Mikhail Alexandrovich. The meeting opened and closed with Boris Pasternak’s lines: “In everything I want to get / To the very essence / In work, in search of a path / In heart trouble.” And in the climax, Ulyanov performed the romance “The Night Shone” from “Guilty Without Guilt” – a performance in which he appeared on stage for the last time.

Anniversary Ulyanov

Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Volkov

The Vakhtangov people are a musical people, so in memory of the artistic director they sang a lot to the piano. Young artists preferred the songs of Ulyanovsk youth. Sincerely, but sometimes loudly sounded “It’s good over the Moscow River”, “Distant bonfires are burning” and Shulzhenkov’s “I love without sleep and tired.” The older generation settled on the philosophical repertoire – they sang from “Office Romance” (“The last poppies are flying around”) and claimed that “Actors, like children, dream of a miracle.”

Acting stories took pride of place in the script. The actresses mostly preferred lyrical essays. Anna Dubrovskaya recalled how, having brought her little daughter to the theater, she lost sight of her, and when she went to look, she found Ulyanov in the office, where she herself was not only afraid to enter, but also ran past with trepidation. But the girl did not hesitate: she listened with interest as the people’s artist reads The White Poodle for her.

Julia Rutberg

Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Volkov

Yulia Rutberg said that a couple of days ago she received a bouquet of white chrysanthemums – a mysterious admirer, who called himself Yuri Vasilyevich (the audience was worried – was this a messenger from Yakovlev?), Asked to save them for the upcoming anniversary. Ulyanov, the actress called the white angel of the Vakhtangov theater, having read the corresponding lines from Bulat Okudzhava in confirmation.

Marina Esipenko recreated an episode of joint work with Ulyanova in The Ides of March, after which, with his light hand, she began to be called a “cat”. Irina Kupchenko appeared on the screen and remembered how touchingly, with the diligence of a freshman, Ulyanov followed the instructions of Nikita Mialkov, acting in the film “Without Witnesses”.Olga Tumaikina proclaimed Ulyanov “the organizer of destinies” and convinced the audience that if it weren’t for him, there wouldn’t be her many years of service at the Vakhtangov Theater. It turns out that for the sake of working under the guidance of Mikhail Alexandrovich, she left the Efremov Moscow Art Theater – Oleg Nikolayevich offered her, a graduate, “just to walk around, look, get to know each other,” and Ulyanov immediately gave the role.

“One Hundred Years Ahead”

Male actors – for some reason it turned out to be half as many as ladies, they chose stories that were more juicy and even savory. The audience roared with laughter when Mikhail Vaskov talked about a stool that Ulyanov, who played the army commander in the play “Front”, had to break in a fit of anger. But the carpenter who prepared the props overdid it with the screws, and Ulyanov had to mercilessly bang the stool on the floor, depicting an extreme degree of discontent.

Vladimir Ivanov delighted the audience by reminding that Ulyanov never lied, his position was visible in all roles, and if he did not like the character, no compromises were allowed. “I want him by the ear and into the sun,” he said.

Evgeny Knyazev

Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Volkov

A separate item on the program was a message from People’s Artist of the USSR Yulia Borisova, read out by Yevgeny Knyazev. The actress confessed her love to her long-term friend and partner. “In Irkutsk History, my heroine said: “I love you very much. Do you know what for? I recognize you all, I recognize you, and I can’t find out everything, ”she wrote. – So I am grateful to Mikhail Aleksandrovich Ulyanov for the fact that he means so much in my life, and also precisely for this impossibility to fully understand what kind of phenomenon this is – Ulyanov, for the secret of his unique unique personality, for the secret of his talent “.

Under the finale, an excited Elena Mikhailovna Ulyanova and, warmly thanking the artists, noticed that her father had two houses – a family one and a theater one, and she did not know which one was more dear to him. And Mikhail Alexandrovich never had such a spiritual anniversary and never will, she added. “It will be, it will be,” the artists rustled, “a hundred years ahead!”

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