In autumn 1937, the twentieth anniversary of the Soviet power was celebrated solemnly. All the theatres prepared productions for this date, and Pogodin, literally under pressure of tireless V. Kuza, wrote the play “The Man with a Gun” for the Vakhtangov Theatre. The role of Lenin was played by Boris Shchukin (this was Gorky’s piece of advice, who apparently noticed in Shchukin’s Bulychev an ability to play the leader).
Shchukin tried to precisely reproduce Lenin’s walk, his gestures, intonations, bend of the head. The first appearance of the leader was staged by R. Simonov very spectacularly. Artist V. Dmitriev built a long corridor from the very depth of the stage, and Lenin walked with an energetic, flying tread from afar, with a paper in his hand and thinking about something, right to the hall. Gasping altogether the spectators stood up in a single impulsion and blacked out the first phrase of the actor with applause. Shchukin used to wait several minutes until the ovation does gown.
Tolchanov’s performance of Shadrin’s role was wonderful. According to all available data this role was not his, but he literally wormed it from the arts council and found some unexpected distinctness, playing a person who is simple, even tongue-tied, but very fundamental and serious.
Premiere was on 13 November 1937