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Lenkom Theatre, Moscow State Theatre named after Lenin's Komsomol (Moscow)

6 Malaya Dmitrovka Street, Moscow (tel.: +7 495 699-96-68, +7 495 699-07-08, +7 495 699-12-61, +7 495 699-19-92), Metro stations: "Pushkinskaya", "Chekhovskaya", "Tverskaya".


6 Malaya Dmitrovka. Today, this place is known to everybody: Moscow residents and visitors, avid theatre-goers and those who go to the theatre maximum once or twice per year. The Lenkom Theatre (the Theatre or the Lenkom, for short) is situated there. The abbreviation Lenkom was unofficially used even at the time when the Theatre was officially known as Moscow Leninist Komsomol Theatre, with the Komsomol being the youth wing of the USSR Communist Party (hence, Lenkom stands for "LENinist KOMsomol"); around 10 years ago, the Lenkom became the Theatre's official name. This theatre is a "must-see": it features star and superstar actors, outstanding stage directors and playwrights, striking creative enthusiasm, innovation, audacious experiments, longevity and permanent audience success.

Constructed in 1907 by the architect Illarion Ivanov-Schitz in the then new-fashioned Modernism style, the Theatre's building housed the Merchants Club until the 1917 Russian Revolution. Here, musical and drama productions were performed, light-music and song concerts were hosted; the club was visited by famous people of art, members of aristocratic families, renowned industrialists and art patrons.

After the Revolution, the building was expropriated and occupied by a "house of anarchy"; a year later, in 1918, the anarchists were driven out of the building by force, and the Sverdlov Communist University settled in the house; in 1920, the university hosted the 3rd Congress of the Russian Communist Union of Youth (as the Komsomol was officially known), which saw a speech by Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Russian communists. This way, even before the Lenkom was created, the walls and the stage of its building had already been penetrated by the young enthusiasm of builders of the new society. However, the same walls and the same stage kept the memory of the sublime tradition of Russian art.

Mark Zakharov, the current head art director of the Theatre, said: "This building is part of my life; and its style of the early 20th century Modernism has been fascinating me for many years now."

The Theatre has never rejected any of its genetic roots; it was faithful to them even during the years when both the Komsomol and Lenin were definitely out of fashion.

The Lenkom, which in 2007 celebrated its 80th anniversary, traces its decent to the Theatre of Working Youth (or the TRAM, for short), created in 1927 at the initiative of the Moscow branch of the Komsomol. It is interesting to note that even during the first years, when ideologists of the TRAM proclaimed their credo, in the proletkult ("proletarian culture") style, as: "The TRAM is not a theatre, a member of the TRAM is not an actor, but an excited reporter, propagandist and polemicist", the TRAM's young actors did not "throw off the Ship of Modernity" (a phrase coined by the communist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky) the experience of classical theatre. It was then when the literary department was managed by Mikhail Bulgakov (who even assumed a a role of stage director and produced Fyodor Knorre's play Alarm); the music department was managed by Isaak Dunayevsky; dancing was taught by Natalya Glan, biomechanics was taught to young members of the TRAM by Irina Hold, Vsevolod Meyerhold's daughter; acting was taught by Moscow Art Theatre masters Nikolay Batalov, Nikolay Khmelyov, Aleksey Gribov, Viktor Stanitsyn and Ilya Sudakov; and set design was done by Yevgeny Kibrik, Yury Pimenov and the Kukryniksy group. Several years later, the stage of the TRAM also accepted pre-revolutionary Russian and contemporary Soviet classics including plays by Aleksandr Ostrovsky and Maxim Gorky and stage adaptations of works by Aleksandr Pushkin and Nikolay Ostrovsky.

In the beginning, the company of the TRAM were proud of the fact that by night they performed on the stage after having worked full-time at their plants and factories by day. However, the concept of the actor who works at his or her turning lathe by day, which remained popular even for some time in the post-TRAM years, turned out to be difficult to implement in the real life. Very soon the TRAM became a completely professional theatre; it trained a series of good actors (P. Springfeld, Zinaida Shchennikova, Vladimir Solovyov, Vladimir Vsevolodov and Aleksandr Pelevin) as well as one brilliant actor: it was here that the stellar fame of Nikolay Kryuchkov, a famous cinema icon of the 1930–1960s, started.

The name Moscow Leninist Komsomol Theatre appeared on the building at 6 Malaya Dmitrovka on 20th February 1938. That year Ivan Bersenev became the head of the Theatre; he came from the Second Moscow Art Theatre, which was shut down by the authorities a short time before, and brought a brilliant team of actors of the Moscow Art Theatre School, such as Sofya Giatsintova, Serafima Birman and Rostislav Platt.

Bersenev told: "At first, it was very difficult for us. As Sofya Giatsintova, Serafima Birman and me were gradually getting acquainted with the company, we were increasingly convinced that everybody there had been brought up in his or her own way and everybody had his or her own vision for the future of the Theatre. There were undoubtedly talented people at the Theatre; however, there were also those young people who, being ungifted, were nevertheless very talkative, even inclined to demagogy. "I am an industrial worker, you must give me leading parts only", one of them demanded. While another one proclaimed: "For two or three years, I will not be playing at all, because I should study a little bit more." And yet another one demanded that we gave a promise to never stage a classic plays. And so on, and so on. Nevertheless, while many had their brains twisted by the TRAM and while, I repeat, there were here also ungifted young people, whom we had to gradually get rid of, the majority of the company, were interesting, lively and energetic young people who very much wished to build a real theatre. When we understood that all of them, each in his or her own way, wished pretty much the same as we did, it became easier to work."

Under Bersenev, the Theatre got a second wind and deservingly occupied a firm position among Russia's best companies. This was helped a lot by Bersenev's firm hand: he was a manager who knew how to keep a company together and how to lead and who possessed an unconstrained directorial style and an actor's talent. Senior spectators remember Bersenev's acting as their dearest theatre experiences; he created the barrister Helmer in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House (staged as Nora), Fedya Protasov in Leo Tolstoy's The Living Corpse and the romantic Cyrano de Bergerac in the play by Edmond Rostand.

Two months before Nazi Germany invaded Russia, Bersenev staged Konstantin Simonov's Lad from Our Town that contained a premonition of the coming war. Sergey Lukonin, the main character of the play, knew, as did other lads of that generation, that the war was imminent and that his duty was to be at the front line. At that time, Simonov was not yet famous; in theatre drama, he was just a beginner. It was luck: the Theatre found its playwright, while the playwright found his theatre, and their paths would cross again more than once.

The following Theatre's production (in 1944) of a play by Simonov, Thus It Will Be, involved the actress Valentina Serova, a favourite of the public whose charm was reinforced by the fact that she was Simonov's wife and that it was she whom he dedicated the poem Wait for Me to, a piece of poetry that was well-known by everybody during the war. As for Lad from Our Town, this play was revived twice on the Lenkom's stage; last time, the play was staged in 1977 by Zakharov and Yury Makhayev. Apparently, this play contained something that went beyond the topical pathos of the pre-war period, something that was also needed by the generation that, fortunately, had been born too late to experience the war.

Bersenev said: "I did enjoy working with Soviet writers, such as Afinogenov, Simonov, Gorbatov and Lavrenyov. Nevertheless, my "capitalist" Ibsen is a mistake, I was told. It is not good that Tolstoy is not our "main line", I was told. It is naive. I agree, we are a Leninist Komsomol theatre. However, it is for the Komsomol and for the young people that we stage and perform Tolstoy, Ibsen, Dickens and Rostand. We support everything that may influence the young consciousness and that may instil love for freedom, honesty, faithfulness to duties and moral purity in the young person of the present day, and all this must be told from our stage."

Bersenev passed away in 1951, in the prime of his strength and talent. For many years, the Theatre remained without a manager. That is, managers came and went without leaving neither traces in the memory, nor influential productions.

A new life of the Theatre and its new rise started in 1963, when Anatoly Efros joined the Theatre. However, this rise was not a long one, as it lasted for just over three years: very soon the Theatre's wings were clipped by removing Efros from his position as the head stage director, because, as it was officially put, he "did not ensure the appropriate direction in shaping the repertoire" (decree no. 50, by the Directorate for Culture at Moscow City Council, as of 7th March 1967). Art ideology censors considered Efros' creative search and, more importantly, his moral search to be too audacious. The stage director did not preach instructive sermons to his spectators. Together with actors, he simply suggested them to take a look inside their souls and to think whether everything was fine there, but his question sounded like: is everything fine with the society, which seems to be so fine on the outside? The spectators were invited by the artist to get involved, to reflect together and to create together. Such were the productions of the plays On the Wedding Day by Viktor Rozov, The Promise by Aleksey Arbuzov, 104 Pages about Love and A Film is Being Shot by Edvard Radzinsky and The Seagull by Anton Chekhov and of the novel The Life of Monsieur de Moliere by Mikhail Bulgakov. The stage director radically renewed the repertoire of the Theatre; the new repertoire better reflected the time, was full not of tranquillity, but of the "live nerve" of the life that the audience lived every day.

Efros brought a team of actors that adored him; they were Olga Yakovleva, Anna Dmitriyeva, Aleksandr Sbruyev, Valentin Gaft, Lev Krugly, Vsevolod Larionov, Lev Durov, Aleksandr Schirwindt and Mikhail Derzhavin. At the same time, Efros preserved the Lenkom's "elders" such as Sofya Giatsintova, Arkady Vovsi, Aleksandr Pelevin and Vladimir Solovyov, and, moreover, he surrounded them with attention, respect and love.

Zakharov said: "The space where our theatre works undoubtedly possesses magical qualities. I put it like this, because the contemporary science have not yet provided us with a clear explanation for the influence that is made on human beings by apparently neutral material objects. In particular, by old theatre walls."

The departure of Efros, who was followed by many of his actors, had a grave impact on the Theatre, which as a result lost exactly that part of its audience that fuelled its searches with the reciprocal love, true interest and non-material, artistic cooperation. Each year the situation at the Theatre was increasingly hopeless; and this lasted for six years. As late as 1973, when the position of the managing director was occupied by Rafik Ekimyan, the company felt that changes were on their way. These changes could be already noticed in the show Autograd 21 written (together with Yury Vizbor) and staged by the young Mark Zakharov, who had already proven that he had a stage director's talent with productions at the Student Theatre of Moscow State University, at the Theatre of Satire and at the Mayakovsky Theatre (where Ekimyan was the director only a very short time before and where he and Zakharov experienced all the troubles caused by the almost banned production of Aleksandr Fadeyev's The Rout). Zakharov staged his next production as the head stage director of the Theatre (Comrade Grishin, the secretary of the Moscow City Committee of the USSR Communist Party, finally officially approved Zakharov, not without having reminded him of the "ideological mistakes" that he had made in the past). This production was called Tyl and was based on the novel The Legend of the Glorious Adventures of Tyl Ulenspiegel in the Land of Flanders & Elsewhere by Charles De Coster.

According to Zakharov, it would be an exaggeration to say now that Tyl was in 1974 something out of the ordinary or a milestone in the world's history. Nevertheless, it was a long-awaited, colourful and quite an exciting spectacle. It was a comedy show with elements of the real drama and of the true satire.

Mark Zakharov recalled: "A productive work on our new protagonist started from that historic moment when I behaved unusually relentlessly towards the main candidate for the role of the creator of a stage adaptation. In a severe manner that did not allow for objections, sometimes slipping into rudeness, I openly enumerated all the problems I had with him and subjected his playwright's talent and his supposed merits to a sharp analysis. That "main candidate" was me. It was to myself that I openly expressed my opinion about me, and, celebrating a victory over my own ambitions, I ran to Grigory Gorin, my friend and a like-minded person. On my way to him, I prepared enticing speeches, but the writer did not manage to listen patiently to them and did not allow me to finish my monologue. He simply fed a blank sheet of paper into his typewriter and typed a text: Grigory Gorin. The Passion of Tyl. A Two-Part Farcical Comedy.

Later, the word passion had to be removed from the title and carefully transferred to the souls and hearts of the leading actors. This did not hurt anybody, because the short Tyl did not sound too bad as well."

The fact that it was Gorin who wrote the adaptation of the book may be considered to be either a mere chance, or a well-deserved success, or even a desperate lottery prize; be it as it may, the subsequent cooperation between Gorin and Zakharov's company would not only result in many wonderful theatrical productions and films, but, more importantly, would have shaped the image of the Lenkom. The combinations of the merrily audacious and the sad, of the derisive and the serious, the buffoonish and the tragic and of the topical and the timelessly profound endowed the spectacle with a special kind of vital power and allowed to have a direct contact with the audience. The text of the play did not contain any kind of special revelations. It simply said that it was not the age that shaped its people, but the other way around, and that the human being was strong enough not to give up, not to mistake evil for good and not to lose the ability to laugh, or in other words, the ability to live.

This was a strikingly melodious production. The music by Gennady Gladkov filled and charged it with energy, leaving no empty space and no pauses, and drove the play forward. Playing a leading part, Nikolay Karachentsov was a true discovery! Everybody wondered how the actor managed to remain on the stage during virtually the entire performance, to sing, to dance, to maintain the explosive and continuous rhythm, to be audacious, to laugh and to infect the audience with his love, desperation, hope and faith. It was some kind of surprisingly new acting amalgam, a kind of claim for the following Theatre's productions, which would be even more audacious in terms of genre, of stylistics, of unimaginable combinations: a great many of audacious shows driven to a precise unity of meaning and emotion; the productions that would be poetic, metaphoric and phantasmagorical.

The leading female part, that of Nele and all the women of Tyl, was performed by Inna Churikova, who was at the time best known by her two brilliant cinema roles in films by Gleb Panfilov. Her involvement in the Lenkom's productions allowed her to broaden her talent and to discover her new strengths in many unexpected, acute and profound parts. While the Theatre obtained its most brilliant star.

The music line in the Lenkom's productions was continued with rock operas (the posters delicately called them "contemporary operas", as the censorship was offended by the word rock) such as The Star and Death of Joaquin Murrieta, A Chilean Brigand Treacherously Killed in California, on 25 July 1853 (music by Aleksey Rybnikov, written by Pavel Grushko, based on Pablo Neruda's play Splendour and Death of Joaquin Murrieta) and Yunona and Avos (music by Aleksey Rybnikov and written by Andrey Voznesensky). Phenomenal, vivid, romantic, dazzling, stunning, exciting with their pace, with their energy of emotion and action and with their extraordinary combination of vulgar freedom and refined aesthetics, these productions gathered capacity crowds in Moscow and during all the tours, in Russia and other countries, for many years. Tyl remained in the repertoire of the Theatre for as long as 14 years, while Yunona and Avos has already crossed the 20-year mark.

Zakharov recalled: "The audience's need of contemporary, topical musicals is enormous, and this is true not only about the young audience. And not only about our country. We felt that at the Espace Cardin Theatre in Paris in the autumn of 1983, when we went there on a tour to show the production Yunona and Avos.

...Each performance saw increasingly many Russian spectators at the Espace Cardin. We knew that our production was very moving, even to tears, but I had never seen such blubbered eyes at our performances before. During the scene when Rezanov and Concita say farewell to each other, some of our compatriots who had lost their motherland wept violently. The auditorium was not large; it fast, sometimes in the manner of an explosion, filled with a kind of bio-electric current. When the current of the actor's energy encountered the nervous energy of the audience, the actors and the audience entered a period of joint theatrical ecstasy and of a reciprocal, profound contact on various levels of empathy. We performed every day; nevertheless, our Paris performances did not turn into mechanical acts and into purely technical imitations of life processes. We felt as if we represented Russian theatre school, and we were very proud of our reserves of energy and inspiration. The second half of our tour saw many permanent spectators who would watch our production many times; some of the Russian Parisians brought their children, sometimes as little as five or six years old, and explained to them that they must remember everything they saw on the stage, because the stage featured the true Russian language and the true Russian poetry..."

However, musicals have always been only one of Zakharov's search directions. Each of his productions has never copied a previous one, always strikes with novelty, freshness and always endows spectators with a sense of discovery. The Lenkom's stage has found place for various types of productions: pre-revolutionary Russian classics (Anton Chekhov's Ivanov and The Seagull), other countries' classics (Pierre Beaumarchais' The Marriage of Figaro), Soviet classics (Vsevolod Vishnevsky's An Optimistic Tragedy), heroic and patriotic theme (Boris Vasilyev's His Name Was Not Listed), contemporary drama (Aleksey Arbuzov's Cruel Games, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya's Three Girls in Blue and Dmitry Lipskerov's The School for Immigrants) and political-journalism drama (Mikhail Shatrov's The Dictatorship of Conscience). Any of these and other productions, regardless of its epoch and author, are penetrated by the live nerve of contemporaneity. They all are about what we are currently concerned of.

On the Lenkom's stage, Zakharov has gathered a striking constellation of star actors; each of them is a phenomenon and deserves a separate story. Among them are the genius actor (who has unfortunately died an untimely death) Evgeny Leonov who was extremely natural playing the Russian intellectual Ivanov (in Ivanov) and the life-beaten, but never desperate Jew Tevye the Milkman (in the production of Gorin's Memorial Prayer loosely based on works by Shalom Aleichem); Tatyana Peltzer (who has also unfortunately passed away) who retained her sense of humour and her youthful spirit till the last day of her remarkably long life; Leonid Bronevoy, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan, Oleg Yankovsky, Aleksandr Abdulov, Yelena Shanina, Dmitry Pevtsov and Andrey Sokolov. The company is being constantly renewed; alongside the veteran masters such as Vladimir Koretsky, Lyubov Matyushina, Boris Becker, Tatyana Kravchenko, Viktor Rakov, Aleksandr Sirin and others (they are too many to name them all), there are young, but deserving actors, including those who bear familiar surnames of their celebrated fathers, such as Andrey Leonov, Aleksandra Zakharova, Mariya Mironova and Aleksandr Lazarev.

Some of Zakharov's actors have already founded their own non-repertory as well as repertory theatre companies; anyway, they agree to work and do actually work at the Lenkom, because acting work at this kind of Theatre brings happiness and joy. The actor Dzhigarkhanyan expressed this in an extremely simple and sincere way: "I feel good at this theatre."

Zakharov's productions have always stricken with their resemblance to cinema, never directly mimicking cinema techniques. What brings his productions closer to cinema is the extreme "saturation" of the stage space and the extremely efficient use of the drama time. The stage has not an inch of idle space and the action has not a single wasted second. It wouldn't be possible to achieve such a precision, beauty and energy of the stage "picture" without such reliable allies and like-minded people as the head designer Oleg Scheinzis and the head of the Theatre's musical ensemble Sergey Rudnitsky.

The stage director Zakharov cannot be separated from the playwright Zakharov, who has many times served as an author of stage adaptations of literary works for his productions. Among the adaptations are Wise Man based on Aleksandr Ostrovsky's Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man and The Barbarian and the Heretic based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Gambler; these adaptation cut and cast away everyday-life details and realities of their age, resulting in a condensed action full of grotesques and metaphors.

Of course, an invaluable part in the formation of the Theatre was played by the playwright Gorin, whose Tyl inaugurated the new, Zakharov period of the Lenkom and whose Royal Games (based on Maxwell Anderson's play Anne of the Thousand Days) and Memorial Prayer (based on works by Shalom Aleichem) became big events in the Theatre's repertoire. However, one must not forget that Gorin as a playwright was born out of his cooperation with the Lenkom and, moreover, the second act of Tyl was being finished in parallel with rehearsals of the first act. This was a remarkable symbiosis of a playwright and a stage director who infected each other with their talent and their reflections on life and art.

These reflections were seamlessly continued in the films The Very Same Munchhausen, The House that Swift Built, Formula of Love and To Kill a Dragon that were created by Zakharov and his actors and were based on screenplays by Gorin. These films (as well as An Ordinary Miracle based on the play by Yevgeny Schwartz) were a seamless continuation of the Lenkom team's life, which cannot be separated from the stage... The last theatrical production of Gorin's works, Balakirev The Buffoon, was staged when, unfortunately, Gorin had already passed away.

Gorin and Zakharov, whose cooperation started as early as in 1968 (the comedy Banquet staged at the Theatre of Satire) and continued until the playwright's death in 2000, were most closely related by their common idea that theatre must be contemporary. It does not matter that the story of Memorial Prayer is about inhabitants of a poor Jewish village and set in very old, tsarist, times. It is obvious to everybody in Russia that this damned Jewish question is even now, as it has always been, a painful and itchy question and that this question concerns not only the Jews, but to the same extent the Russians. And does it help to ardently accuse by enumerating the many unsettled old scores and hard feelings?!

Is Tevye the Milkman contemporary? Why is he contemporary? Perhaps, because he has never have a grudge again anybody and he knows how to face blows of fate with patience, irony, dignity and courage? Because of this too, of course...

The character of Tevye had been brilliantly created on the stage and on the screen by the wonderful Jewish actors Solomon Michoels and Chaim Topol; however, since this character had such a powerful charge of universal human wisdom and tragedy, Russian actor also dreamed about this part as about a feast: one may remember Mikhail Ulyanov who for many years was fighting to obtain this role until he finally played it in a TV film. The part of Tevye in Memorial Prayer, written by Gorin and composed by Mikhail Gluz, became a great deed of Yevgeny Leonov, who was such a "Russian" actor that even an idea of him portraying a Jew could seem ridiculous. It turned out to be possible. Without having changed his appearance, that is, without having applied a beard or payot (Jewish sidelocks), the actor warmed to his role from inside, proving it once again that it is not the appearance that matters, but rather the character's essence and its philosophy, which is the same for the human breed of hard-working wise men, regardless of their ethnicity.

After Leomov's death, tt was hard to imagine that anyone would again dare to take this philosophically and professionally most complex job; however, Vladimir Steklov did dare. He did not copy Leonov, and he had his own Tevye who was, however, the same in essence and who said very simple things: good is stronger than evil and love is stronger than hatred. It turns out that these simple truths, regardless of the language used to say them, are very contemporary and are very much needed by the audience and by the society at large.

Is the story of Anne Boleyn in Royal Games contemporary? She was the unhappy (or was she, on the contrary, happy?) second wife of the king Henry VIII. Her story also includes Henry himself, a "bluebeard", a despot, a man of pleasure, a far-sighted politician, a philosopher and a barbarian at the same time. He divorced two of his wives and he executed two more, destroying the papal authority in England and proclaiming himself the head of England's church along the way. Yes, but why would we care about Henry or about Anne? How else? Take another look: this is all about the present day, about (citing Zakharov and his co-director Yury Makhayev) "the eternal dependency of the human destiny on the sinister devil of the state". And it is also about the great, vehement power of love, which is not meek or angelic, but rather full of furious passions and which ragingly reveals both the best and the worst in the individual. Wouldn't you agree that such an idea of love is closer to our age that long ago left the stage of the youthful romanticism?

For the part of Anne Boleyn, Zakharov invited Amaliya Mordvinova who was then a young debutant and merely a third-year student at the Shchukin School and who is now a star of theatre, cinema and television. The choice turned out to be extremely successful. The young actress felt the essence of this part, its almost ballet-like stage movements and the entire production's opera-and-drama composition set by the wonderful music by Sandor Kallos.

Zakharov explained: "...Born in the theatre, the temple of arts, traces of energy flows continue their existence, at times providing invisible spiritual support and generating the most valuable thing in the theatrical environment, namely, inspiration. Inspiration leads not only to breakthroughs into a new aesthetic quality, but it is also a creative source of objects that have a more solid material base."

In his production Mystification based on Nina Sadur's play Brother Chichikov specially written for the Lenkom, Zakharov also remained faithful to his credo to strike the audience. The phantasmagoria of Nikolay Gogol's types, where characters from Dead Souls and Viy were mixed in one pile, was animated on the stage amidst a cacophony of roars, shrills, rumbles, grinds and chaos made by riggers and other stagehands who were very seriously assembling and disassembling some kind of flywheels and gears resembling both an observation wheel and a flying ship. This chaos was a metaphor for the rampant and crumpled Russia that had neither goals, nor ways to reach them, that forgot the logics and rules of the normal life and that wouldn't have known whether to go raving mad or to kneel in prayer. The theatre historian Vidmantas Siliunas wrote: "We enter Mystification as a cabaret, but instead we get into a mystery."

The Lenkom company produced The Marriage of Figaro in their favourite style of the music fantasy (on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Gioachino Rossini) featuring ballet, a chorus, violinists and bagpipers; the production was as always full of play, ease and a spirit of freedom. The final of the production saw the breast-naked beauty Liberty as if coming from paintings by Eugene Delacroix. Possibly, it was a reference to Napoleon who had called this play "a revolution in action." Or maybe it was a jocular and ironic expression of joy (and sadness, at the same time) at obtaining a freedom. Who knows what will it turn out to be like? When and where will it fire, the cannon where the whore Liberty is sitting? As Pierre Beaumarchais said: "What good is in the fact that we have destroyed our bastilles to dust, now that bandits are dancing on the ruins, killing us all? True friends of freedom! Beware that our chief executioners are immorality and anarchy."

In Pushkin's Little Tragedies, Mozart advises Antonio Salieri: "When black thoughts come to trouble you, pop the cork on a bottle of champagne, or reread The Marriage of Figaro. The Lenkom's version of the play was full of this intoxicating, sparkling easiness...

The Barbarian and the Heretic (based on Dostoyevsky's The Gambler) was, perhaps, one of the most profound, philosophically complex and complex to stage productions of the Lenkom; it was also one of the Theatre's most metaphoric and phantasmagoric production that featured a great number of stars. Armen Dzhigarkhanyan, Oleg Yankovsky, Irina Churikova, Leonid Bronevoy, Aleksandr Zbruyev, Aleksandr Lazarev, Aleksandra Zakharova, Mariya Mironova and, first and foremost, Aleksandr Abdulov who invested himself entirely, including all his talent, all his acting experience, all his obsessive and inexhaustible passion for acting. Boris Lyubimov wrote: "Abdulov has played the most important role in his entire life. This long and unshapely bloke, dressed in something like a school jacket, has played almost the entire typology of Dostoyevsky's characters: "dreamer", "jester", "sponger", "ideologist", "man of pleasure", "gambler" and "impatient beggar"; Ganya Ivolgin, Myshkin, the Raw Youth, Versilov, Shatov, Verkhovensky, Stavrogin, all the brothers Karamazov and their father."

The production has won, it seemed, all the awards available nowadays: the Crystal Turandot Award went to Zakharov, Scheinzis (for set design), Abdulov and Churikova; the Stanislavsky Award was received by Churikova and Mariya Danilova (for costumes); the Moscow Premiere Award went to Abdulov; the Seagull Award for the season's best theatre duet was received by Zakharova and Abdulov. Mironova won the audience award of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, while the Moskovsky Komsololets newspaper named her the best supporting actor. The same newspaper named Churikova the best "master".

As the head stage director of his theatre and as an artist having clearly defined creative preferences, it is only natural that Zakharov has a jealous attitude towards those of his collegues who wish to work on the stage of his theatre and with his company. Nevertheless, exceptions did take place, and outstanding ones too. It was to the Lenkom that Andrey Tarkovsky came to realise his old dream: he staged Hamlet with Anatoly Solonitsyn as Hamlet, Margarita Terekhova as Gertrude and Irina Churikova as Ophelia. A decade later, Gleb Panfilov, another cinema director of the same high level, staged this tragedy with Yankovsky as Hamlet, Zbruyev as Claudius, Churikova as Gertrude, Abdulov as Laertes and Zakharova as Ophelia; he proposed a completely different, acutely contemporary interpretation, which immediately found a passionate response of the audience.

Zakharov said: "The souls that have donated themselves to the house at 6 Malaya Dmitrovka remain here and continue supporting our mundane and, quite often, vane efforts. While being naive, this idea is at the same time fair and incontestable."

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Lenkom Theatre, Moscow State Theatre named after Lenin's Komsomol