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People’s Artist of the Russian Federation passed away on November 17 at the age of 84. Read about the main stages of his bright career in the article.

Roman Viktyuk was born in 1936 in Lviv into a family of school teachers. He began to show interest in the theater as a child, staged his first performances at school and in the theater studio of the Lviv Palace of Pioneers. Over time, the children’s hobby did not disappear, but took shape in a clear goal – after graduating from school, he saw no other way than to Moscow, to GITIS.

He easily entered the acting department, was accepted into the workshop of Vasily and Marya Orlov. Its teachers, among whom were the famous directors Anatoly Efros and Yuri Zavadsky, probably would not have been surprised if they were told that soon the name of their student would thunder all over the world.


Although many Moscow theaters invited him to their place after graduation, he left the capital. Roman Grigorievich never regretted this decision. At first, he played in the performances of the M. Gorky Theater for Young Spectators in Lviv, and then, remembering his old hobby, he gradually began to stage performances himself. Soon Viktyuk became the head of the youth theater studio at the Youth Theater, he worked in Kiev, Kalinin, Vilnius.

Once in 1969 the play “Cunning and Love”, staged by Viktyuk in Kalinin, saw Marcello Mastroianni. The bright and bold production made such an impression on the Italian actor that at the end he shouted to the director, not holding back: “Genio!” Roman Grigorievich did not immediately recognize the word “genius” and was embarrassed – it seemed to him that Mastroianni was calling him Zhenya. He will be called a genius more than once – both grateful viewers, and severe critics, and actors who at least once have a chance to work with Viktyuk.

In the early 1970s, he was a leading director at the Russian Drama Theater of Lithuania (then the Russian Drama Theater of the Lithuanian SSR). There he staged Peter Schaeffer’s Black Comedy, Valentina and Valentina by Mikhail Roschin, Don’t Part With Your Beloved by Alexander Volodin, Music Lessons by Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and much more.

In the mid-1970s, Viktyuk returned to Moscow. The first theater with which he began to cooperate was the Mossovet Theater. The productions created by him – “Evening Light” based on the play by Alexei Arbuzov and “The Tsar’s Hunt” based on Leonid Zorin – quickly became very popular, people started talking about Viktyuk.

The titles of his performances adorned the posters of the Moscow Art Theater named after M. Gorky: there appeared “Husband and Wife Will Rent a Room” by Mikhail Roshchin, “Stolen Happiness” by Ivan Franko, “Tattooed Rose” by Tennessee Williams, “Old Actress for the Role of Dostoevsky’s Wife” by Edward Radzinsky. At the Taganka Theater, he staged Marina Tsvetaeva’s Fedra with Alla Demidova, Dmitry Pevtsov and Alexei Serebryakov in the lead roles.

“The Handmaids”

The most famous performance of Viktyuk was “The Maids” based on the play by the French playwright Jean Genet, the premiere thundered in 1988 at the “Satyricon”. Roman Grigorievich did not like conventions, frames – especially on stage – and he most clearly demonstrated this in this performance.

Men impersonated two maids who simultaneously hate and idolize their mistress – this move, which largely refers to the theatrical tradition of Antiquity, coupled with choreography by Alla Sigalova, bright costumes of Alla Kozhenkova and the unusual make-up of Lev Novikov ensured Roman Viktyuk the glory of one of the most extraordinary directors of the country. The roles of the servants Claire and Solange and their mistresses were performed by Konstantin Raikin, Nikolai Dobrynin and Alexander Zuev.

The performance quickly went beyond the Satyricon, became a welcome guest in many theaters around the world, and was always sold out. Journalists dreamed of an interview with Roman Grigorievich, young directors wanted to learn from him, and ordinary viewers were ready to visit “The Handmaids” countless times. Critics called the performance a manifesto of a new theatricality.

Later Viktyuk created the second and third editions of “The Handmaids”, with other artists. The production still occupies an important place in the repertoire of the Roman Viktyuk Theater.

Roman Viktyuk Theater

Gradually, the director came up with the idea of ​​creating his own theater in which he can create without looking back at anyone. The theater was founded in 1991, the first production was “M. Butterfly “based on the play by David Henry Huang. Actors Sergei Makovetsky, Erik Kurmangaliev, Irina Metlitskaya and others listened with trepidation to every word of the famous director at the rehearsals.

The loudest premieres of the first years of the theater’s life were the second edition of The Handmaids, the performances of Lolita based on the play by Edward Albee based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov, and Two on the Swing by William Gibson. Five years later, the theater received state status, and a year later Roman Viktyuk received an international award from the Institute of Italian Drama for the best embodiment of contemporary drama. He became the only foreign director to receive this award.

The real highlight of the 1998 theatrical season was Oscar Wilde’s Salome. Many have compared her to The Handmaids. The Roman Viktyuk Theater staged plays by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, William Shakespeare, Friedrich Schiller, John Ford, Mikhail Bulgakov. Elena Obraztsova, Irina Sokolova, Alisa Freindlich and other artists, both well-known and just starting their careers, took the stage.

The last performance directed by Roman Viktyuk on the stage of his theater was “The Poisoned Tunic” based on the play by Nikolai Gumilyov. The premiere of the performance took place on March 5 this year.

People’s Artist and Teacher

During his life, Roman Grigorievich staged more than 200 performances in different theaters, at the same time he was engaged in teaching. He taught students of the circus school, his students were Efim Shifrin and Gennady Khazanov. He was invited to lecture for novice actors and directors of universities in Russia, Italy, Ukraine. In addition, Roman Grigorievich graduated three courses in his native GITIS.

In 2003 he received the title of Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, in 2009 he was awarded the title of People’s Artist.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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