chapter  6
12 Pages

Vakhtangov at the Adashev Theatre School

In 1909, six years after his arrival in Moscow, Vakhtangov entered the theatre school founded by Aleksandr Adashev. A Moscow Art Theatre actor, Adashev employed the MAT’s greats, such as Kachalov and Leonidov, to teach at his school. Vakhtangov entered the professional theatrical path decisively and abruptly, although he did not formally withdraw from Moscow University for another two years. 1

Can acting be taught? Vakhtangov always answered this question negatively. Acting as a creative process cannot be taught. There are natural-born actors, who seem to be in touch with their creative process subconsciously, or intuitively. There are also those actors who do not have easy access to their creativity. For such individuals, an experienced teacher of the inner technique can create conditions conducive to their creative process. (Alternatively, they could discover these conditions on their own-consciously and/or subconsciouslythrough theatrical practice.)

Only one theatre personality in Russia of the period was searching for such conditions, and this was Konstantin Stanislavsky. At the same time, Stanislavsky did not teach his discoveries at any school. Neither did he teach them at the Moscow Art Theatre. For fi ve years, he applied his new principles in rehearsals, but that was it. Stanislavsky did have a trusted colleague, Leopold Sulerzhitsky (see Figure 6.1 ). Sulerzhitsky did teach at the Adashev Theatre School. This made Vakhtangov’s choice.