Mikhail Shchepkin Monument, Moscow

IMG_8788.jpg2I’m happy to show you this monument to the great 19th century Russian actor Mikhail Shchepkin that you can only see if you have friends at the Shchepkin Institute. It stands inside the closed courtyard among the classrooms, rehearsal halls and performance spaces of this great acting school, one of two in Moscow that are named after actors. The Shchukin Institute, named for Boris Shchukin, is affiliated with the Vakhtangov Theater. The Shchepkin, located right behind the Maly Theater is affiliated with this, the oldest drama theater in Moscow. Traditionally, each September 1 all the students and teachers gather around the monument to begin the new academic year. The Maly, incidentally, took in two of Vsevolod Meyerhold’s top actors – Mikhail Tsaryov and Igor Ilyinsky – when the Meyerhold was closed in the late 1930s and Meyerhold himself was murdered shortly thereafter. Both Tsaryov and Ilyinsky taught acting for decades at the Shchepkin.

IMG_8787.jpg2IMG_8789.jpg2Shchepkin is generally considered the beginning of the great line of Russian actors that lead to Konstantin Stanislavsky’s theory and practice of being lifelike on stage. He is also the origin of one of the most-quoted phrases in Russian theater: “Theater for an actor is a cathedral. It is his sanctuary! Your life, your honor – it all belongs irrevocably to the stage, to which you have given yourself. Your fate depends on these boards. Treat this cathedral with respect and make others respect it, perform with religious fervor or get out.”


Vladimir Vysotsky Monument, Yekaterinburg


Vladimir Vysotsky and Marina Vlady, Yekaterinburg, in front of the Antei shopping and entertainment center on Krasnoarmeiskaya Street. Located between Malyshev Street and Lenin Prospect, it’s not far from an old hotel where the actor and singer used to stay when he would come to town for concerts. I can’t imagine this making anyone’s list of favorite monuments. It is so slick it is shiny and I rather doubt that either Vysotsky or Vlady ever wore the saccharine smiles they have been given here.  They sit rather weirdly on a kind of fence post that is shoved up against the building in such a way that allows, even encourages, most of the people passing by to ignore them.  The author of the “idea” for the monument is listed as Andrei Gavrilovsky. The “architect and author of the project” is listed as Alexander Silnitsky. You will notice that Gavrilovsky and Silnitsky agreed to show Vysotsky playing a seven-string guitar, also known as a Russian or Gypsy guitar, according to an unofficial Vladimir Vysotsky website. Looming large at a short distance behind Marina Vlady’s back is a huge sign advertising one hour free parking beneath the Vysotsky Business Center.


IMG_9839.jpg2And yet, there you have it – a monument commemorating the great actor and bard and his love, the famous French actress of Russian descent, who once said, “I carry a French passport, but I am Russian.” I don’t believe there’s another one of the two together anywhere in the world.