The Vakhtangov School has been in existence for over nine decades. In November of 1913, a group of Moscow students formed a theatre studio and asked the great Russian director Evgeny Vakhtangov, then a young actor with the Moscow Art Theatre, and a student of Konstantin Stanislavsky, to be their leader.
On October 23, 1914 Vakhtangov held his first class with the students. This day is celebrated each year as the School's birthday.
In the spring of 1917, after a successful performance of the student’s work, the “Mansurovskaya School”, so named after one of the streets that crossed the famous Arbat street where the school was located, was given its first official name: “The Moscow Drama School led by Evgeny Vakhtangov”. In 1920 it was renamed “The Third Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre”, and in 1926, in honor of the celebrated Russian actor and Vakhtangov’s favorite student, the school took the name of Boris Shchukin. 1945 was the year that the school was granted its status of an institution of higher education and transformed to the Shchukin Theatre College of Higher education of the Evgeny Vakhtangov Theatre. In 2002 the school was granted the status of an Academy.
The Vakhtangov Academy is not simply a theatre school. It is also a bearer and keeper of a theatre culture and its best achievements and customs. The graduates teach acting in a large number of theatre schools throughout Russia. The professors and instructors of the School often hold conferences as well as conduct workshops and masterclasses in big and small theatrical centers in Russia and have been in demand abroad.
All members of the current teaching staff are graduates of the Academy. This helps the School pass on Vakhtangov’s precepts and teaching principles from one generation to another. The Academy’s faculty has received wide recognition both at home and worldwide. It is enough to remember the impact Vakhtangov’s teaching methods had on the pedagogy of the great Michael Chekhov.
Boris Zakhava, Vakhtangov’s student and one of the first graduates of the School, a distinguished Russian actor and director, led the School from 1922 to 1976. The current Director of the Academy, a leading actor with the Vakhtangov Theatre, Evgeny Knyazev is also a graduate of our school.
The School is justly proud of it’s graduates, of which many are remarkable actors on the Russian Stage and Screen, and whose work has already become a part of history. These are: B. Shchukin, C. Mansurova, R. Simonov, B. Zahava, A. Orochko, I. Tolchanov, V. Kuza, O. Basov, V. Yakhontov, V. Maretskaya, A. Gribov, A. Stephanova, D. Zhuravlev, N. Gritsenko, M. Ulianov, N. Gundareva and many others.
A number still work on the Russian Stage today as well, such as: J. Borisova, J. Yakovlev, V. Etush (he was the Director of the Institute during 16 years, and now he is the Artistic Leader of it), V. Lanovoy, A. Demidova, A. Vertinskaya, O. Yakovleva, A. Kaliagin, I. Kupchenko, L. Maksakova, A. Shirvindt, E. Simonova, etc.
There is a number of theatres with their companies consisting almost entirely of the Vakhtangov School’s graduates. Foremost of all these are the Evgeny Vakhtangov Theatre and the Taganka Theatre led by Yury Lubimov. Quite a few of the Institute’s graduates also work with some of Moscow’s leading theatres such as the Lenkom Theatre led by M. Zaharov, The Satire Theatre, and Sovremennik (Contemporary) Theatre.
It would be impossible to imagine the work of such outstanding Russian filmmakers such as L. Pyriev, G. Alexandrov, Y. Raizman and M. Kalatozov without the actors educated at the Academy.
The School also gave to the Russian public famous theatre and film directors such as N. Gorchakov, E. Simonov, Y. Lubimov, A. Remizova, R. Bykov, V. Fokin, G. Cherniahovsky and others. The eminent Yuri Zavadsky carried out his experiments in play directing and teaching at the Vakhtangov School. The illustrious Ruben Simonov, to whom the Vakhtangov Theatre owes the most brilliant period of its existence, was educated here.
Besides its primary function of providing instruction, the School has also served as a research laboratory. The Academy has helped to create new theatre schools and companies. These are, to name only a few: the Taganka theatre led by Yury Lubimov, which grew out of the graduation production of “The Good Man From Setzuan” by Brecht, the Youth Moldova Theatre “Luchaferul” in Kishinev, the Ruben Simonov Theatre led by E. Simonov, the Theatre Sovremennik in Ingushetia, and “The Trained Monkey School”.
Today the Vakhtangov Theatre Academy maintains its reputation as the Institution of Higher Education where the elite of Russian stage and screen study. The past few years have seen the Institute’s doors opened to Undergraduate and Graduate students from all over the world. Students from Russia, South Korea, the USA, France, Israel, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Moldova study side by side. All of these lists are constantly growing.
The Institute is under the direction of People’s Artist of Russia and State Prize Laureate of Russia, EVGENY KNYAZEV.
Vice-Presidents of the Institute:
V. P. for Academic Affairs Candidate of Philology
(Pedagogical Methodology) Proffesor of Stage Speech
V.P. for Academic Affairs Doctor of Culture Sciences, Professor
(Scientific Research) EKATERINA ALEXANDROVA
V.P. for Business Affairs ALEXEY LAZAREV
- The Yakov Smolensky stage speech competition (April);
- The Workshop “Stanislavsky – Vakhtangov – Michael Chekhov: A School of Acting”(July)
- A theoretical-practical conference for teachers of Stage Movement (October);
- A director’s conference based on individual director’s productions (November).
- A theoretical - practical conference "Music of Theatre. Theatre of Music"
Each of these events sees participants from different Russian towns as well as foreign countries. Attendees generally include:
- Students desiring to demonstrate their achievements;
- Professional actors looking for improvement of their abilities or in need of creative rehabilitation;
- Teachers interested in new methods of teaching;
- Directors looking for young actors and fresh ideas.
- Within the confines of the Center works the Scientific Laboratory for the Study of the Creative Heritage of Evgeny Vaktangov. The books and articles by the Academy’s teachers such as E. Dunaeva, A. Polamishev, I. Vishnevskaya, V. Etush, V. Aufer, G. Morozova, V. Ivanov and many others have received a wide acknowledgement. The members of the Departments render their help in the organization of the work.
The Laboratory and the Center regularly hold theory-technical conferences, seminars, and roundtables, which invariably raise the interest of the theatrical public. For example, the conferences: “Fashion in Art and Culture”, and “Perspectives in Vakhtangov’s Pedagogy as Applied in the Process of the Development of European Theatre on the Boundary of the 20th and 21st Centuries” were very successful.