Chair of the Acting Department
Honoured Artist of RF,
Laureate of the Russian Government Prize,
Professor PAVEL LIUBIMTSEV
The main department of The Boris Shchukin Theatre Institute is the Acting Department. Evgeny Vakhtangov and Boris Zahava can be considered its founders.
Evgeny Vakhtangov was a brilliant student of Konstantin Stanislavsky. The very first day of work in his own studio (in 1914) he began conducting his lessons according to the legendary “System” of his Teacher and Boris Zahava took the baton from Evgeny Vakhtangov and devoted long years to formulating the basic principles of educating in The Vakhtangov Theate school. Vakhtangov’s untimely death in 1922 left the school without one of its founders.
Boris Zahava headed the school from 1925 to 1976. With his leadership the school obtained the title of The Higher Educational Establishment, in 1945, when the Acting Department was founded.
Different professors chaired the Department throughout the years: Anna Orochko, Tatiana Shuhmina, Vladimir Shlezinger, Evgeny Simonov, Yury Kati-Yartsev, Albert Burov…
The roots of the methodology of the Department are in the greatest achievements of the Vakhtangov Theatre School that have been built and kept throughout its history.
Here are the main principles of the teachers at Shchukin School.
1. The first year – mastering the simplest elements of acting techniques in logical sequence “from simple to complicated”, which implies that every next stage of the program “absorbs” all the previous ones. Teachers of our School call this sequence “The Vakhtangov canon”.
2. First half of the second year – obtaining the skills that are necessary for work on a character: firstly – through observations and exercises on imagination, and then – through etudes based on material from literary prose. The teachers of the Shchukin School understand an actor’s ability to embody a character as a skill “to become another being oneself at the same time”.
3. The main postulate of our School is the following. The Shchukin School has never been a collection of autonomous workshops. Beginning with the middle of the second year of study the entire Acting Department works with each class – they work on scenes from plays, large potions of plays and thesis performances. This postulate, discovered by Boris Zahava in 1925, is the corner-stone of the Vakhtangov theatre pedagogy.
Every student can reveal the maximum of his abilities if while studying at the School he encounters different teachers’ personalities and experiences diverse pedagogical influence. A student can also develop his strength and overcome his weaknesses.
A lot of brilliant teachers from different generations work nowadays at the Acting Department: some of them began their careers more than 40 years ago, others came to the School not long ago.