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Interview with Nikolai Nikolaevich Gubenko

Н.Н. Губенко на 20-летии Содружества Актёров Таганки (фото А. Штром)

Russia National Artist Nikolai Nikolaevich Gubenko was born in 1941 in Odessa (USSR, now Ukraine). After losing parents at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, he was brought up and got the way to life in the the orphan’s home, for which he remained forever grateful to the Government of the country. He graduated from the drama and directing departments of the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography named after S.A. Gerasimov (VGIK), was awarded the State Prize of the RSFSR (1973) and a number of other awards for directing and acting in the theater and cinema.

In 1987-1989 – the principal director of the Taganka Theater.

Since 1993 – the artistic director of the theater “Fraternity of Taganka actors”.


Among the outstanding films filmed by director N. N. Gubenko: “Soldier came from the front”, “Wounded”, “And life, and tears and love”. From the actor’s work – Sitnikov in “Noble Nest”, Alexei Zworykin In “Director”, Nikolai Maksimovich Yegorov “Soldier came from the front”.

Actor and director combines creative activity with the political, rigorously protecting the interests of the country and defending its cultural values. In 1989-1991 N.N. Gubenko – the last Minister of Culture of the USSR. Since 1992 – President of the International Association of Assistance to the culture. In 1995-1999 – Russia State Duma deputy, deputy chairman of the Culture Committee. Today Nikolay Nikolaevich – deputy chairman of the Moscow City Duma (CPRF faction).

From well-known victories of Nikolay Nikolaevich in the political arena – obstructing the removal “return” to Germany Baldin’s collection from the Hermitage and valuable books (the Lubavichskii Rebbe) from the State Library named after Lenin.

Below is an interview with Russia National actor Nikolai Nikolaevich Gubenko for E-Vesti (22 June 2016), where he makes comments about his approach to culture, its moral foundations and contemporary theatre.

EV: Nikolai Nikolaevich, tell me how you manage to keep the traditions of Russian culture in this difficult time?

N.N. Gubenko: And how do we manage to preserve human life in this mess which was staged in 1991 by Hitler’s patterns? After all Hitler’s aim was to destroy Russia. For the beginning – the dismemberment, and then destruction. Dismemberment took place. Georgia – down, Ukraine wants to NATO, in Europe, the Baltic States – down and so on. Only thanks to the efforts of those people the international community is kept from the disaster, who understand that the world community will not be without Russia! All will drown in blood, humanity will disappear. Russia – the core of the world order, peace, kindness, compassion, sympathy for humanity which is fallen now into such misfortune in all respects. Starting with refugees and ending politicized decisions of international institutions with regard to Russia.

EV: If I understand you correctly, that today the international community demand such promises of Russian culture as a moral foundation, including the Russian theater . After all the Russian theater has always carried a moral principles after the Russian literature and these principles it taught the the audience. Is that the foundation of the Russian theater if I understand correctly?

N.N. Gubenko: You understand correctly.

However, not every theater adheres to this tradition. There are theaters where domestic classics – Russian classics – Gogol, Pushkin, Lermontov, Chekhov does not sound like themselves to such a degree, that their works can not be found out in modern performances. They dramatized to the point, to such an extent performed and installed that when Khlestakov urinates in the first row of parterre, it is considered as a great achievement.

EV: Some people believe that today it is what the public wants…

N.N. Gubenko: It is so indeed. Look at these giant halls which show-business collects. People pay the sum with five zeros for visiting some of the concerts . Recently I heard that Sergei Cords will give a concert on a commercial basis in the framework of the economic forum, the cost of the ticket on which will be from 100 000 rubles. It – exquisite, as said, an elite public who will pay for listen to Shnurov. But Shnurov – is a special case. I respect Sergei for his position. Not for the genre, namely for his position. He is thinking person. We even use his hits in our performance “Concert on the occasion of the end of the world”.

But what happens in show-business at the level of vulgarity, abomination, primitive… What is happening on the program “The Voice”, we hear only English voice , not Russian voice. When 8 out of 10 small children sing in English who play in the competition. When Lazarev represents us at Eurovision in English. Why in English? Why not in Russian? And that is Lazarev, who does not recognize that the Crimea – Russian. And that is Lazarev, who says that Russia acted incorrectly in this case. Who do we delegate there? What? Do we not have talents? No talented people? Russia – a stunningly talented, gifted country. And part of that giftedness, a significant part is the province. Not Moscow and St. Petersburg, which are already tasted all, except, perhaps, gay parades. But these parades are also likely to be recognized and accepted in the near future out of respect for the concept of democracy.

What is the policy? It is the policy of extermination of humanity for the sake of the golden billion, which could live, thrive and reproduce. Destroy everything by AIDS, wars, mutual hatred. 20 million refugees, and, according to some figures, 60 million. They do not have enough water, not enough bread, lacks everything. Sorry I went in that direction, but the Russian classics, Russian theater, Russian poetry and do what aims humanity solely to preserve.

EV: Your desire to preserve traditions does not limit you to put the pieces of new young directors, and to go up with the times in this sense. You offer to the viewer new programs, new seasons …

N.N. Gubenko: We have raised an entire generation of young directors: Natalia Starkova, Vladimir Bazynkov, Marya Fedosova, Artem Tynkasov, Ekaterina Koroleva … They pull away from us, but we have grown our own. And, I must say to you, they can give odds to many. We finish the season not hitting kettledrums. There are “Millionaire”, “Miss and mafia”, “Merry Christmas, Mom!”… We end with the human intonation. To a greater extent – our young directors. And move on to the next season, starting it with outstanding performances that this troupe created.

EV: What are your creative plans? What is expected in the new “Fraternity actors Taganka” season?

N.N. Gubenko: We begin the season with the release of children’s performance “Flower with seven colors” of director Ekaterina Koroleva, then I will start to work, but the subject will not say. Because it is a very expensive performance and funding are not quite enough which the state has determined . If there is no money, then maybe this performance will not. But there will be other, less expensive.

And also we have ahead the directorial debut of the play by Martin McDonagh “The one-armed from Spokane” on the Small Stage. His work will show a talented Nikolai Korobov. Among us all are talented, we have no mediocre. Why? Because talent must be hungry. All of our directors and actors have very small salary. Therefore they have a very large practice. Television, radio, theater, street – anything. And practice makes it possible talent prosperity.

EV: I would like to know how, in your opinion, is military theme in your reading actual now? My grandmother, she is 94 years old, feels the war about as emotionally and intellectually, everything is absolutely authentic on stage. How is it now required this reading in your opinion?

N.N. Gubenko: Our state is now concerned about the “new” history and its teaching. You see, when in the 1990s Soros financed the publication of textbooks on Russian history for 7, 8, 9 classes in Kreger edition, there is, for example, only 6 lines was defined for the Leningrad blockade, of which it is not clear not the number of deaths from starvation, not one word is said about the “way of life”, the heroism, spirituality, morality, love for the country. What is clear is that Stalin was a tyrant, that he was a dictator… Today, i were driving in the car and on the “Echo of Moscow” hear: “Stalin lost the war. He’s ruined 27 million people”. And so on. It is necessary to put them in place, because the last generation – it does not know the truth of the war. And now, the president attended in order to bring back the history and its interpretation in a true direction. I hope that scientists, academics, and not just the Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinskii, who heads the “Historical Society”, will pave this “way of life”. The road of truth – this is a way of life. The historical truth – that’s life.

Sources: Union of Taganka Actors, Website of N. Gubenko.