Oleg Tabakov

People’s Artist of the USSR, Russia State Prize and the USSR State Prize Laureate


He is the founder and the Artistic Director of the Studio Theatre in Chaplygin Street, Artistic Director of the Moscow Art Theatre (since 2001), Member of the Presidential Council for Arts. He was the Head of the Moscow Art Theatre Studio School (1985 - 2001).

Born in Saratov on August 17, 1935to a family of doctors, he went to school there. In 1950 - 1953 he attended “The Young Guard ’Drama Club headed by Natalya Sukhostav in the local House of Pioneers, which greatly affected his choice of the walk in life, so that N.Sukhostav had actually become his “Godmother” in the profession (as well as for 160 other actors).

In 1953 he entered the Moscow Art Theatre Studio School (Vasily Toporkov’s class), where he was among the most promising students. In his third year there he appeared in his first film “Sasha’s Life Debut” (“Sasha Vstupayet v Zhizn) directed by Mikhail Sweitser.

In 1957 he became an actor of Oleg Yefremov’s newly-founded studio, which later developed into the Sovremennik Theatre. Here he played the leading parts in “The Naked King”, “The Three Wishes”, “Always Available” (“Vsegda v Prodazhe) and “A Common Story”, which brought him enormous popularity. Alongside with acting on stage, he became one of the most sought- after film and radio actors.

In 1968, he played his favorite part of Khlestakov in N.Gogol’s “Inspector-General” as a guest actor in the Prague Chinogerny Club Theatre. Later that year he directed “Marriage” with the Youth Studio of the Sovremennik Theatre, which was both the young actors’ graduation work and his debut as a teacher.

In 1970 he was appointed General Manager of the Sovremennik Theatre.

In 1973 he unexpectedly decided to shoulder a new burden – to teach acting. Having found like-minded enthusiasts, he made an unprecedented step – announced recruitment to the new drama club. He chose 49 youngsters, who were taught History of Arts, Russian Theatre History and, Scenic Movement. Later the most talented of them and some more students from the National Drama School made up the core of the new Studio Theatre, which the Master and his class had acquired. The building used to be a coal-house, which they redecorated and cleaned with their own hands and which is now known as the famous ‘Tabakerka’.

They made their debut with “I’ll Be Back in Spring…” in 1978 followed by “The Two Arrows”, “Farewell, Mowgli!” , “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Passions of Barbara” directed and produced by O.Tabakov. His students developed their skills through daily acting. Soon the theatre became known far outside Moscow and got a steady acclaim with the critics. However, the officials didn’t authorize the new theatre, so the new brilliant artistic generation carefully brought up by Oleg Tabakov had dissolved.

Still his apostles, now forced to work for different theatres, got secretly together in Tabakerka for night rehearsals and kept on staging new plays.

In 1983 Oleg Tabakov accepted O.Yefremov’s invitation to join the Moscow Art Theatre. His first part there was Salieri in “Amadeus” by P.Sheffer, which he has been playing since then.

In 1986 three studio theatres were set up in Moscow, one of those was the Oleg Tabakov Studio Theatre.

On March 1, 1987 the finally authorized theatre premiered with “The Armchair”, a play based on- “The Local Emergency” by Yury Polyakov. Speaking of his creation Oleg Tabakov calls Tabakerka “a traditional Russian realistic psychological theatre”.

That same year, the Moscow Art Theatre split dramatically into two, so Tabakov followed Oleg Yefremov to the A.Chekhov Art Theatre.

The Artistic Director of the Moscow Art Theatre and Tabakerka, Oleg Tabakov is full of enthusiasm as ever. He is the leading actor in both companies, producer, teacher, public figure.

In his Studio Theatre, Oleg Tabakov now appears in “ADVENTURES” based on ”The Dead Souls” by N. Gogol” (Plyushkin), “The Seagull” (Dorn) and “The Year When I wasn’t Born” (Stepan Sudakov).

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