Fomenko was one of the most outstanding theater directors of his era.
In 1993 he set up a theater company named The Pyotr Fomenko Studio which united graudates of his workshop at the Russian Academy of Theatrical Art.
Fomenko staged over 60 productions in Moscow, Saint Petersrbug, Tbilisi and other cities. (RIA, Interfax)
“An artist should view himself with a lot of irony, otherwise he risks turning into a turkey.” This comic formula was deduced for serious adherence by outstanding Russian stage director Pyotr Fomenko who is marking his 80th anniversary on the 13th of July.
Pyotr Fomenko himself never celebrates his anniversaries, even though there have been so many of them. There have also been other reasons for celebrations, such as fantastic premieres sought after by all Moscow theatre-lovers or high state and professional awards. However, nothing can make Pyotr Fomenko show off in front of cameras and give interviews bathing in glory.
His glory has been achieved through a lot of suffering. He had been pursuing it for a long time, overcoming the lack of understanding when his older colleagues called him ‘a defiler of the ashes of Russian classics’ and his performances were closed down. His own theatre called Pyotr Fomenko Studio Theatre appeared only 20 years ago. The Soviet Union was collapsing then and the master was already 60. Where did he get enough strength? Probably, his students inspired him. They were bright, brilliant and talented and they were always by his side. He set up his theatre together with them and the theatre immediately became the talk of the day, Russian theatre critic Yelena Diakova says sharing her memories with The Voice of Russia.
“The theatre had no building of its own, all the old values seemed to be going to the dogs. Suddenly, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Wolves and Sheep by Russian playwright Alexander Ostrovsky were staged by Pyotr Fomenko and his company of young actors. They defended their values with the brilliance, elegance and sang-froid of the last surviving sentries on a bastion. They were the symbol and the reference point of the norm. I was amazed by what Fomenko once told me about his theatre of the early 1990s. At that time they did not have a building of their own and they spent six months at the Moscow House of Actors sitting at a table and discussing the text of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The performance came out almost 10 years later but the spiritual work that they did at that time in the noise of Moscow streets was absolutely indispensable.”
Fomenko has always staged first-rate classics but in his interpretation plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Tolstoy and Pushkin seem to have been written yesterday and based on the current material. “All his performances are absolutely natural and simple, which can only be achieved by prominent artists at a mature age,” Pyotr Fomenko’s student, actor and director Sergey Puskepalis said in his interview with The Voice of Russia. Puskepalis himself achieved international recognition through his participation in the film How I Ended This Summer.
“His innovation lies in clearing off a kind of ‘patina’ from plays, - Sergey says about his teacher. – He puts plays in line with the author’s message, personality and originality. He makes theatrical works enjoyable and this is the main feature of his innovation, in my opinion.”
Announcer: Fomenko has a very complicated personality. Colleagues call him a great actor and provoker who is unpredictable and inimitable, they compare him to a volcano. Sergey Puskepalis says that “we cannot analyze Fomenko but only feel him”.
“His musical talent enables him to separate the false from the genuine, a resonance from a dissonance, forte from piano. It applies both to his life and work. I think it is very important.”
“We have all learned the lesson that failure could be useful and success should be taken sceptically,” Fomenko ‘s students say. Among them are many actors and stage directors who are the leaders of contemporary Russian theatre. The great master’s students have a funny nickname ‘Fomenki’ which is their teacher’s name put in plural. In essence, it is absolutely right to call them so.