based on stories by Vasily Shukshin


Theatre of Nations, Moscow
Director Alvis Hermanis

In an old building in Moscow, which once housed the Moscow Art Theatre (MKhAT), a faceless dramatic organization called the Theatre of Nations is accommodated. Two years ago Evgeny Mironov was appointed as director of the theatre. He belongs to the MKhAT drama school and at only 45 he is already famous as a great actor - in Russia such recognition within one’s lifetime is not uncommon. He has played Prince Myshkin in The Idiot, Khlestakov in The Government Inspector and many other roles where the audience could identify with the Russian characters. Having become theatre director, Mironov invited Alvis Hermanis, the head of the New Riga Theatre, to stage a production. Hermanis is a theatre director raised on Russian literature and has more than once turned to it in his productions but has never worked with Russian actors before.

“I realized that I needed to choose some very Russian material which would add to my own understanding of people. I remembered the films by Shukshin that I had watched as a child. I started reading his short stories and was fascinated by their simplicity and wisdom,” Hermanis said.

He selected a cast which, apart from Mironov and others, included the brightest and most talented actress of the 30-something generation, Chulpan Khamatova. Together they travelled to the Altai, Shukshin’s birthplace, to become acquainted with the characters in Shukshin’s stories. The stage designer, photographer and Hermanis’ partner Monika Pormale created portraits of the Altai people. These portraits now silently stare at the house from the stage, but the actors are not copying these people; they are not imitating their speech or manners. They simply play characters in a Russian village, the remaining residents of a modern megapolis. In the play the two worlds meet each other, but without sacrificing their own identity they discover they have much in common. They say in Russia that there is no one subject that can bring together individual spectators in a single audience. Surprisingly it is a foreigner who has spotted the theme.

Elena Kovalskaya

The principal difference between Latvian Stories and Shukshin’s Stories lies in, apart from the wonderful literary foundation, in Evgeny Mironov’s involvement. Of course, Shukshin’s Stories is an ensemble production, and the actresses are particularly good here: Yulia Peresild, Yulia Svezhakova, and finally Tchulpan Khamatova HERSELF. But all of them, even the wonderful Tchulpan, perform their roles almost in the background to Mironov’s solo performance. And after this benefit-performance by him I’d like to make an important statement: Evgeny Mironov, our contemporary and fellow countryman, is a great artist. He is not just good. He is not just talented. Fortunately, such actors still exist. He is great. “I thought that I had a Stradivari violin in my hands,” once said Hermanis quietly to me. I understand what he meant.

Marina Davydova

In Shukshin’s Stories all eight actors are magnificent but the true triumph here is pulled off by Evgeny Mironov who has not had such theatrical success for quite some time. Moving from one character to another, changing ages, body shape and vocal qualities, he plays merrily, richly but at the same time softly, forcing people to watch him even when his character is not involved in the performance. In this production Alvis Hermanis found the exact quantities of funny and touching ingredients, and as a result made a production about love. A love for Srostki village and its residents.

Gleb Sitkovsky