Ruben Simonov

People’s Artist of the USSR, Lenin Prize and USSR State Prize LaureateThe Art Director of the Vakhtangov Theatre (1939-1968) Ruben Nikolaevich Simonov was born on 20 March (2 April) 1899 in Moscow in the Armenian family.In 1918 he finished his first year of studying at the Faculty of Law of the Moscow University, but decided to devote his life to theatre.In 1919 he entered Shalyapin’s Studio. A year has passed and — in 1920 — he at once entered the third year of Evgeny Vakhtangov’s Studio.He worked at the Vakhtangov Theatre from 1920 till 1968.Since 1939 he was the Art Director of the Vakhtangov Theatre.Even his first studio performances — “The Miracle of Saint Antony” by M. Maeterlinck, “Marriage” by A. Chekhov, the famous “Turandot Princess” by K. Gozzi — displayed the uncommon actor talent of Ruben Simonov. It is not for nothing that, when Vakhtangov saw the young actor in a training and ‘highly dramatic’ role, he said, “He will be an outstanding comic actor.” The prophecy came true, though comic element acquired special form in Simonov’s art.After the early tragic death of his teacher Simonov became one of the most active builders of the Studio, shortly after named the Vakhtangov Theatre.In those early years the young actor discovered director talent, and Dmitry Lensky’s vaudeville “Lev Gurych Sinichkin”, staged by him in 1924, was a significant event of the Moscow theatre life. Then followed a number of actor and director works, which seemed to fill his life up to the hilt. However young Simonov, inclined to bold experiments and being full of energy, created his own studio in 1928.This theatre studio existed for a short time, but left a distinguished trace in the theatre history/Year by year G.N. Smirnov’s authority at the Vakhtangov Theatre was gradually growing and his peers recognized him as their leader: in 1939 he became the principal director and the art director of the State Academic Vakhtangov Theatre, keeping the post till his death.R.N. Simonov staged a huge number of performances, which will amaze with the breadth of his director talent, if see them taken together. He wanted to and succeeded in undertaking the most difficult, new and never known before creative tasks. An artistic discovery of such kind was the staging of “The Man with a Gun” by N. Pogodin, when Lenin himself appeared on the stage. “The Front” by A. Kornechuk was staged at nearly theatres of the country, but it is Simonov’s performance at the Vakhtangov Theatre that is still known as the best example of this play being staged.In the middle 50s Simonov staged “Foma Gordeev”, which became one of his best works and was on for a long time. As a director Somonov had so broad artistic interests that after revolutionary performance of “The Man with a Gun”, he was carried away with a merry, lively operetta and staged “The Straw Hat”, and shortly after – “Mamzelle Nitouche” by F. Herve.Each Simonov’s role and director work was widely and mostly favourably discussed in press. Of course, he was also criticized — sometimes fairly, and sometimes unfoundedly. However it can be stated with confidence that he had a happy life of an actor and a director, and his theatre work brought him fame and recognition he was worth of.Ruben Nikolaevich Simonov died on 5 December 1968.

Thrice Laureate of the State Stalin Prize (1943, 1947, 1950)
Lenin Prize Laureate (1967)

Truffaldino (Princess Turandot, 1922)
Lev Gurych Sinichkin (Lev Gurych Sinichkin, 1924)
Don Andres de Ribera (Comedies of Merimee, 1924)
Ametistov Alexandr Tarasovich (Zoyka’s Apartment, 1928)
Wurm (Intrigue and Love, 1930)
Claudius, King of Denmark (Hamlet, 1932)
The Duke de Chaulieu (The Human Comedy, 1934)
Kostya (The Aristocrats, 1935)
Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing, 1936)
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (The Man with a Gun, 1937)
Ivan Alexandrovich Khlestakov (The Government Inspector, 1939)
Don Quixote of La Mancha (Don Quixote, 1941)
Oleko Dundich (Oleko Dundich, 1942)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Cyrano de Bergerac, 1942)
Dormidont the Tsar (He who fears difficulties won’t see happiness, 1954)
Domenico Soriano (Filumena Marturano, 1956)

Lev Gurych Sinichkin, 1924
The Intervention, 1933
Hamlet, 1932
The Man with a Gun, 1937
The Straw Hat, 1939
The Front, 1942
Mamzelle Nitouche, 1944
On the Eve, 1948
Foma Gordeev, 1956
The Married Cook, 1961
The Living Corpse, 1962
Princess Turandot, 1963
Diona, 1965
Cinderella, 1966
The Konarmia (The Horse Cavalry), 1966
The Warsaw Melody, 1967

V.A. Anastasyev “Ruben Simonov” Moscow, 1981