Logo The Grotowski Year 2009
The Grotowski Institute
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City of Wroclaw

Wroclaw European Capital of Culture 2016

the Ministry of Science and Higher Education
Anatoly Vassiliev

Anatolij Wasiljew Born in 1942 in Rostov-on-Don. Director and teacher who gave shaped many of Russia’s rebellious artistic explorers, amongst them: Vladimir Berezin, Igor Jacko, Boris Juchananov, Vladimir Klimienko (Klim). At the centre of Vassiliev’s attention lies words which lose their common associations in a process of long-term rehearsals and intensive actor training. Vassiliev seeks to free the theatre from its legacy of psychological realism and is not interested in narration nor human behaviour. He does emphasize the importance of religion in his work.   


Vassiliev studied chemistry at Rostov State University and later received a degree in directing from Moscow’s State Institute of Dramatic Art (GITIS). His directorial debut took place at the MChAT Theatre with A Solo for a Clock with Chimes (1973), performed by aged actors, students of Constantin Stanislavski. In 1987, he founded the School of Dramatic Art in Moscow. He led subsequent laboratory works with his students on the works of Dumas, Dostoyevsky, Plato, Pirandello, Pushkin and Moliere. He has developed many international, bilingual theatre projects. He has presented his performances throughout the world and directed in France, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.


Vassiliev was invited to Poland on several occasions by the Centre for Study of Jerzy Grotowski’s Work and Cultural and Theatrical Research. In Poland thus far, he has presented Six Characters in Search of an Author, open rehearsals of Joseph and his Brothers, Amphitryon (also at the Contact festival in Torun), Don Juan or the Stone Guest and other poems, and, most recently (November 2006), Médée-Material, produced in collaboration with French actress Valérie Dréville (Festival of Theatre Festivals in Warsaw).


“The natural environment of Vassiliev’s theatre,” writes Katarzyna Osinska in Didaskalia (2007/78), “is the art of past with its various forms: nō theatre, Greek antiquity, Italian renaissance, baroque opera, and also surrealism and various notions of avant-garde. Vassiliev resembles one and a half eye archer from Benedikt Liwszyc’s book (dedicated to Russian futurism), only that he doesn’t turn his face back only at the East but at the whole past culture in general, not losing sight of contemporary art at the same time. In his artistic strategy, we can find not only many meeting points with the tradition of native avant-garde but most of all with Meyerhold. […] Meyerhold – in my opinion – inspired Vassiliev not only in actor’s practical or theatrical actions but also in repertoire choices. It cannot be a coincidence that a barely-known opera of Alexander Dargomyzhsky, The Stone Guest, which inspired the director to create the performance of Don Juan is Dead, was staged in 1916 at the Mariinsky Theatre in Petersburg by Meyerhold himself.”


Don Juan is Dead premiered in April 2006 and was acclaimed to be the peak of Vassiliev’s theatre by Russian critics.


The director left Russia after the Moscow government decided to reorganize his theatre, attempting to make it more financially effective by allocating one of the stages to theatre projects not affiliated with the School of Dramatic Art’s activities. At present Vassiliev is Dean of the Directing Department at Lyon Drama School in France.


Vassiliev was honoured with the French Order of the Cavalier of Art and Literature in 1989 and the European Prize of New Theatrical Realities in 1990.


For more information, visit www.sdart.ru