New East Digital Archive

Play boys: a new generation of Russian stage stars

30 June 2014
Photography Masha Demianova

Play boys: a new generation of Russian stage stars

Moscow is a theatre town: not only are the streets full of pretence and performance, but what happens on stage matters to everyone. Now, in the dimly lit red-velvet world of Moscow theatres, a rebellious new generation is mastering the physical, ephemeral art of holding an audience captive. In everything from avant-garde plays to independent films, these rising stars are figureheads and spokesmen for their peers. Photographer Masha Demianova and stylist Artur Lomakin took over a closed theatre for a day to capture the vitality and verve of the young movers and shakers of the Moscow acting scene.

Alexei Polyakov, 25

How did you become an actor?

I started in my childhood. I thought that all I could do was watch films and act in them. I wanted to become a director but realised that accomplishing that at 16 would be hard. So I decided to study acting first, and then directing.

What is the hardest thing about being an actor?

Not lying to yourself. You need to ask yourself honestly what you can and can’t do. If you feel yourself, you are able to give an honest reply.

Your dream role?

Caligula, Raskolnikov and Hamlet. They are like me. Cold-blooded, somewhat cruel. I read Hamlet when I was still a teenager and one line stuck on my mind: that justice means being cruel. Justice is very important.

Your idea of happiness?

Being in the process, on the move. To stop is to die. You need to develop.

Your worst fear?

Ending up alone, without any talented people around.

Your most valuable possession?

A book by Chekhov.

Timur Lubimsky, 22

What’s the hardest thing about being an actor?

Everyone’s whoring themselves out. Corruption, money, it’s the era of producers. It’s nice when someone needs you, but in the end no one does. I’m annoyed that everything is a cliché, nobody thinks outside of the box. You have a desire to do something but it’s not always easy.

How did you become an actor?

Every time I answer this question in a different way. There are a lot of factors, starting in childhood when I was put on a stool and declared a “perfomer”… To be honest, by the final year at school I realised that I needed to go somewhere, but I couldn’t become something like a programmer as I’m not brainy enough. I wanted to study to be a director but when I saw the list of what I have to read and do, I decided to take a break and went to the acting department.

What do you like?

Only theatre.

Don’t like?

Greyness, slush.

How would you like to die?

Quietly and calmly. Or like a hero in a war. Or quietly and calmly in a war.

Favourite author, colour, food?

Lermontov. Black. Pasta.

Vladimir Kimmelman, 23

Can you see yourself in other spheres?

Yes, maybe in social organisations, working with children from difficult families. I worked in an organisation like that in Omsk.

What’s the hardest thing about being an actor?

Being an actor. Everything.

Your dream part?

Peer Gynt.

Your idea of absolute happiness?

I want all people to be happy.

What do you like about yourself?

My brown eyes. I don’t know what to say. I’m very kind, tender, very affectionate and smart.

What don’t you like about yourself?

Vanity. I know all too well what it is. I depend on other people’s opinion and want to look good in public, this annoys me.

Your biggest achievement?

It’s not really an achievement but I managed to graduate from college and didn’t get expelled.

Daniil Steklov, 21

Your dream role?

After Romeo I would like to play Hamlet. I understand that it can’t be now, but when I’m older and still really want to. Leading roles are like a drug. I played Romeo and I guess I understood something about theatrical love. Maybe King Lear, if I am still in the profession.

Idea of absolute happiness?

Love. Health, big house, loving wife, kids, friends, everybody’s happy, beautiful, dressed, satisfied. So we would all gather at a villa and everybody would have kids and soul mates.

Your worst fear?

To end up alone and realise that nobody needs you, nobody’s interested in you.

What do you appreciate in men?

Willpower – it’s very important in men and I don’t have enough myself. Once you’ve said something, you should do it.

In women?

Yesterday we watched a video and a boy in it answered the question “What should be remarkable about a girl?” by saying: “She should be beautiful, smart and above of all clever”. I walk around the streets, look for victims of my love and it even matters how she’s dressed, not necessarily expensive or something, but with a sense of style. The main thing is that she should love me. And be smart.

What do you like / dislike about yourself?

I don’t like anything about myself. I don’t like anything about my appearance, I’ve hated it since school. I can’t even tell if I have a sense of humour, if I’m stupid or not.

Alexander Gorchilin, 22

How did you become an actor?

Just decided, just became. In my childhood I thought I was the smartest and played along.

Your dream part?

I love bad guys, they are the coolest because they are the kindest. I’d like to play Richard the Third, but I’ll never get it. Bad guys are more interesting because they have very precise motivation, which is more attractive to me than the motivation of, say, Romeo. He has got some motivation, of course, but it’s more interesting to try and understand and play a villain. Or rather, a villain in a manner of speaking. For some people Richard the Third might seem like a good guy.

Your idea of absolute happiness?

To stop searching for it, to stop using the word “absolute” and probably to just be happy.

Your greatest fear?

I am afraid of dying.

Who do you admire the most?

People who are true to themselves. People who don’t try to conform.

What do you like and not like about yourself?

I like myself but I can’t say exactly what I like about myself. There’s a lot that I like and a lot that I don’t like. I don’t like the fact that I can’t switch on and take something seriously, I can’t develop a sense of responsibility – I have got one but it’s not constant.

Your greatest achievement?

If you start constructing a hierarchy of your achievements and try to figure out which are big achievements and which are small ones, then you’re going to have problems. In your head.

Your most treasured possession?

I don’t have any possessions like that. It would be annoying if I lost something, but nothing more, I wouldn’t worry too much.

Photography: Masha Demianova
Style: Artur Lomakin
Production and interview: Anna Golenko