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Efros, Anatolii Vasil’evich

(1925–1987), theater and cinema director. In 1943 Efros began studying at Iurii Zavadskii’s acting studio at the Mossovet Theater, where he played his first small roles. In 1945, on Zavadskii’s recommendation, Efros studied at the directing department of the State Institute of Theatrical Arts in Moscow. He completed his studies in 1949, at the height of the anticosmopolitan campaign, which made it impossible for him to obtain steady work in a Moscow theater. His efforts to pursue graduate studies (aspirantura) also proved unsuccessful. 

Efros produced his first plays in 1951 at the Itinerant Theater of the Railroad Workers’ Central House of Culture. In 1952 and 1953, he worked as a director at the Riazan Drama Theater, and in 1954 was invited to the Central Children’s Theater in Moscow. The creative atmosphere there was conducive to the development of Efros’s talent: he began collaborating with the dramatist and playwright Viktor Rozov and produced a number of the latter’s plays, as well as Pushkin’s Boris Godunov and Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.

In 1963, Efros became the Lenkom Theater’s main director. He transformed its repertoire fundamentally, presenting performances based on Aleksei Arbuzov’s Moi bednyi Marat (My Poor Marat), Eduard Radzinskii’s Snimaetsia kino (The Movie Is Being Filmed), Mikhail Bulgakov’s Molière, and Anton Chekhov’s Chaika (The Seagull). In 1967, however, Efros was ousted from his position for not consistently following the party line in formulating the theater’s repertoire. He was transferred to the Malaia Bronnaia Theater, which with the arrival of Efros and actors congenial to him became one of the centers of Moscow’s cultural life. Over the next decade, Efros produced Chekhov’s Tri sestry (Three Sisters), Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Othello, Molière’s Don Juan, Gogol’s Zhenit’ba (Marriage), and Turgenev’s Mesiats v derevne (A Month in the Village).

In 1984, Efros replaced Iurii Liubimov as main director of the Moscow Taganka Theater, which Liubimov had founded in 1964 and had headed since then. Liubimov’s dismissal on political grounds complicated Efros’s relations with the Taganka actors, who saw him as a collaborator. It was at this theater in the mid-1980s that Efros produced his final plays, Gorky’s Na dne (The Lower Depths), Svetlana Aleksievich’s U voiny ne zhenskoe litso (War Has No Female Face), and Molière’s Misanthrope. In 1985, Efros revived Chekhov’s Vishnevyi sad (Cherry Orchard), which he had staged at the Taganka in 1975.

In addition to the theater, Efros worked in the cinema—his films included Visokosnyi god (Leap Year; 1961), Dvoe v stepi (Two in the Steppe; 1964), and V chetverg i bol’she nikogda (On Thursday and Never Again; 1976)—and on television, where he produced more than a dozen films and plays.

Suggested Reading

Anatolii Efros, Repetitsiia—liubov’ moia (Moscow, 1975); Anatolii Efros, Prodolzhenie teatral’nogo rasskaza (Moscow, 1985); Anatolii Efros, Professiia: Rezhisser (Moscow, 2000); Maria Shevstova, The Theatre Practice of Anatoly Efros (Devon, 1978); Anatolii Smelianskii, The Russian Theatre after Stalin (Cam-bridge, 1999).



Translated from Russian by I. Michael Aronson