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Alla Demidova - a Russian actress, the winner of the USSR State Award in 1977, the winner of the Russian President Award in 2001. She is also the winner of other cinema and theatrical awards.

She was born in September 29, 1936 in Moscow, USSR. Her mother, Alexandra Harchenko, was a laboratorian of the Economic faculty of The Moscow State University. Her father, Sergey Demidov, went missing when storming Warsaw, Poland in 1944. Vladimir Valutsky, her husband, is a screen writer.

After graduating from school she entered Economic faculty of the Moscow State University. She graduated from it in 1959 and began conducting seminars on political economy for students of the Philosophical faculty. On the third grade in 1958 she joins The Student's Theatre of The Moscow State University where appears in "Such love" directed by Rolan Bykov with her first notable character of Lida Petrusova. The actress' specific manner - hidden, restrained, inner suffering frequently masked with self irony - will be employed in the number of subsequent roles afterwards and become one of the variation of her scenic Theme.

In 1960 Demidova enters The Theatrical School of Moscow where takes course supervised by Anna Orochko. In 1963 together with other students she is engaged (as Madam Yang) in "The Good Woman From Setzuan" directed by Yury Lyubimov's. This performance changes common attitude to theatrical art. It combines the Meyerhold's method with traditions of political theatre of Brecht and gives an actor an opportunity to separate himself from the character and contact audience directly.

The Taganka Theatre was officially opened with "The Good Woman From Setzuan" in April 1964. Lyubimov considers Alla Demidova one of the key actress of the troupe.

Unlike theatre where she was initially engaged mostly in the secondary parts, her involvement in movie projects brought her the first success and fame. In 1966 she stars in Igor Talankin's "Daytime stars", a screen version of an autobiographical story by Olga Berggolts. This is a poetic film about horrors of the Leningrad blockade during the World War II. Officials block the demonstration of the film, however professionals praise Alla Demidova's work. The actress is immediately offered a great deal of contracts in movies. According to results of the interrogation conducted by "The Soviet Screen" magazine Demidova is named the most perspective actress of 1968.

As of 1968 her theatrical work includes such leads as: Elmira in "Tartuf" (1968), Pani Bogenitskaya in "Rush hour" (1969), Gertruda in "Hamlet" (1971), Milentievna in "Wooden horses" (1974), Ranevskaya in "The Cherry Orchard" (1975, directed by A.Efros), Raskolnikov's mother in "The Crime and Punishment" (1979), Masha in " Three sisters" (1981), Marina Mnishek in "Boris Godunov" (1982). Being tended to analysis the actress put her credo at the time: "Your stage life should justify and turn into reality any scenic and creative ideas of the director". However dissatisfaction of the actor's destiny at Lyubimov's theatre makes Demidova and Vladimir Vysotsky, her friend and fellow actor, begin rehearsals of "Shout" by Tennessee Williams, a play just for two acting characters. At the same time Vysotsky conceives of a scenic composition on "Fedra" by Jean Rasin. Unfortunately, Vysotsky's death in July 1980 broke those projects.

Her theatrical career reached the peak when Taganka was suffering its first crisis, Anatoly Efros's taking over and his tragic death, followed by Lyubimov's exile. In 1988 Demidova takes the lead in "Fedra" by Marina Tsvetaeva directed by Roman Viktyuk where she expresses herself not only as a tragic but also synthetic actress who is able to combine both modern plastic movements and a poetic word. Almost at the same time Antoine Vitez, a French director, offers her a contract in his similar project on "Fedra" by Racine. Rehearsals were almost under way when a sudden death of the director in 1990 terminated the realization of the project.

At the turn of 90's Viktyuk successfully toured Europe and America with his "Fedra". The western audience welcomes Demidova's play for her focusing on a precise scenic form and pronounced personal individuality. She is considered a star and sample of the modern Russian actress. Whereas in her own country her play is tagged "cold" and "intellectual". According to M. Brashinsky, a movie critic, "her refined technique (which is something in between Stanislavsky's and Lyubimov's ones) enables to make hidden thoughts and feelings especially significant when it comes to their expession".

Upon Yury Lyubimov's return to "Taganka", Demidova takes several leads including Marina Mnishek in renewed "Boris Godunov" (1988), Donna Anna in "The Feast During A Plague" (1989), Elektra in "Elektra" by Sofokl (1992). Nowadays she tends to appear alone playing significant tragic characters.

Though during the second crisis in "Taganka" Demidova supports Lyubimov, it becomes clear that her artistic career needs obvious change. Formally Demidova still remains in the theatre staff, but actually as of 1994 she is on her own. In 1993 Demidova set up a new "A" Theatre and starts cooperating with Teodoros Terzopulos, a Greek director. Her leads in his performances include Mertey in "Quartet" by H. Muller (1993), Medea in "Medea" by Muller - Evripid (1996) and Hamlet in "Hamlet-lesson", based on Shakespeare's "Hamlet" (2001).

Since Demidova makes only occasional projects in Moscow, local reporters considering her a tragic actress note that "this Koonen needs her own Tairov".

Alla Demidova is an author of six books reflecting her own attitude to the nature of art and portraying her former colleagues.

Alla Shenderova


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