In the theatre world, he is well known as the master of the scene. Therefore, maybe Viktor Gudinovich, a leading actor of the National Academic Drama Theatre named after Maxim Gorky, does not need to play the leading role each time. Directors know that he will play this or that scene of the play brighter than anyone else. As you know, there are no small roles... without which the skeleton of productions can do. Each of them makes its own indispensable stroke in the performance. On his 60th anniversary, Viktor Gudinovich appeared on stage in the role of Bobchinsky-Dobchinsky in Executor by Alexey Dudarev.
The ‘Good’ nickname stuck to him easily, whether because of the reduction of his surname in kindergarten when he first saddled a wooden horse, or later, after the release of the film about a legendary archer of the army of Richard the Lionheart, Robin Hood, who hastened to the aid of the poor. The actor’s contemporaries call him Hood even today, while youth warmly call him Uncle Vitya.
Does he deserve that? With this question in mind, I approached Olga Klebanovich, the national artiste of Belarus during the skit, which was arranged recently at the theatre in honour of the actor on the occasion of his anniversary.
“There is nothing surprising about such warm treatment of my colleague,” Olga says. “Viktor is so benevolent, sympathetic and so helpful that it is possible even to call him ‘first aid’. Our young actors are convinced of it; therefore they fondly call him Uncle Vitya. And they prepared this skit so willingly, and with so much enthusiasm! Hood is a rare person, open and sincerely warm. Look in his eyes. They radiate light! And they at once warm a speaker. As for his profession, Viktor is very responsible. As an actor, he easily plays roles connected with the theme of human unselfishness. Those who saw his performance in Extraordinary Adventures of Soldier Chonkin by V. Voinovich, will understand what I am talking about. While his Beni in Difficult People or the Groom from Jerusalem by Yosef Bar-Yosef is a miraculous interpretation of a shoemaker. It was very easy for me to work in this performance because he is also a remarkable partner.”
The record of service of roles by Viktor Gudinovich is huge. I have seen many shows in which he performed. Therefore, I understand Olga Klebanovich’s judgements about her colleague. He is indeed one of those actors who are remembered in even the tiniest roles, and not because of his distinctive appearance, resembling Al Pacino. Each small remark of the actor, each gesture and every breath of his characters is poignant. Therefore, his roles are always noticed. Viktor has enough psychologism and expression even in other big works, such, as the Housekeeper in Russian Vaudevilles under the direction of Sergey Kovalchik, or in such famous performances of Yevgeny Yershov — Dinner of Fools (Cheval), Theatrical Vehicle (Director of the theatre), as well as in Modest Abramov’s Rainmaker (Starbuck). With pleasure, I introduce him to the readers of the magazine, as the next visitor to our editorial office.
Viktor, tell me please, how did you become an actor? And when did you understand, that you cannot live without the theatre?
I started gaining actor’s experience in kindergarten. When I was four years old, in one morning performance, I played the role of ‘herdsboy’ in the dance Savka and Grishka. I remember how I was put into a straw hat, and then I ‘got into character’ with great pleasure and started to dance. Everybody smiled, and I was happy to see this. Perhaps this kindergarten debut initiated my actor’s career. My peers in the kindergarten and in school liked how I transformed. I will not hide that it was a pleasure for me to please others. I liked to joke and entertain people, though I am not a comic in everyday life. I always had leading roles in the school performances. However, when I finished school I decided to enter medical university. Probably, it happened because my mother, Tamara Vasilievna, was a medic. However, I did not manage to enter. Probably the creative genes of my grandfather, Ivan Grigorievich Gudinovich, who lived in Bobruisk and served as the head of the post office, appeared to be stronger. My grandfather played the violin and was a good painter too. His talent for drawing transferred both to my father, and to my elder brother, Yuri. Yuri Gudinovich is a well-known artist who works with metal. However, my father, Vladimir Ivanovich, was unable to develop such abilities, as the war began. He was in the war, and even reached Bulgaria. My mother was in a concentration camp. My parents have never liked to speak about the war. My father, by the way, was among those who built the first metro in Minsk and broke up metal constructions for it.
What do you remember about your student’s years? As far as I know, your department was friendly and rich in talent?
Yes, it is true. After all, I studied with those whose names are well-known today. Alexey Dudarev, Sergey Zhuravel, Tatiana Likhacheva, Yevgeny Yershov, Yuri Kulik and Gennady Shkuratov, Alexander Ivanovich Butakov was our teacher. He was able to do it masterfully. From all my student life it is very difficult for me to single out something special. All my years of study were wonderful. Every day was full of explosions of knowledge. It was like a discovery of something new. My student years have left the feeling of a holiday in my mind. Certainly, there were many difficulties; almost all the students of my year were one or two years older than me. For me, they were like adults, more skilled. Therefore, I was the junior, an open-mouthed listener. But we liked to study and we were sure that none of us would lose the interest in the acting profession. We had a huge desire to comprehend it.
Have not you lost it?
If I had lost it, I would not have worked at the theatre. As for desire to comprehend a profession, it occurs every time when rehearsals begin, or when you appear on the stage. Nevertheless, when the actor is occupied in the repertoire not so much, so treacherous thoughts appear.
Does your self-estimation decrease?
I am a man. Nothing human is alien to me.
You should not worry about that, after all such masters of the scene, as Viktor Gudinovich, are few and far between. However, actors always dream of big roles.
I also dreamt, and I dream still. This is the actor’s normal desire.
Just remember at least such great actors of theatre, as Sergey Filippov who was able to reveal the character of a hero in three minutes. People were greedily speaking about him, as a master of scenes. Your roles are also remembered, not only thanks to your similarity to Al Pacino. People have probably told you about this similarity to the talented Italian. Your small roles, in my opinion, are filled with huge internal life. You prove once again, Stanislavsky’s well-known statement. There are no small roles, there are only small actors.
As soon as I appeared on the stage, people at once began to say that I was similar to Al Pacino. When I was young, I liked to hear that. Now, I treat it with humour, and even with light self-irony. After all, the outward similarity is of little significance. As it is known, we differ from each other psychologically. After all even twins are different. My attitude to roles is responsible, to any of them, and to small roles first of all. It cannot be any different.
Theoretically speaking, your journey in your profession is divided into four periods: Vitebsk, Mogilev, TYuZ and current — Gorky. At what theatre it was most comfortable for you to work?
Each of them, including this current period, which continues for me at the Russian theatre, has given something to me. After graduation from the institute, I, together with other Minsk residents, among them there was also Tatiana Nenarokomova, my future wife, with whom I fell in love as a student, were placed on a job in Vitebsk, in the Yakub Kolas Theatre. Tanya married me in Vitebsk, though she had many admirers. She is wonderful, intelligent, clever, and from a very good family. In Vitebsk, I appeared on the stage for the first time in a real theatre, in a remarkable performance — Symon, the Musician, in a role of an Innkeeper, which was staged by Valery Mazynsky. In Vitebsk, I performed under the well-known Belarusian director, Valery Maslyuk, who worked at the Yakub Kolas Theatre. I appreciated him as a director because he was able to open actor’s individuality. In the same place, in Vitebsk, I understood that I know nothing about my profession. Study is one thing, while practice is absolutely another.
And then, when Maslyuk moved to Mogilev, did you go after him?
Yes, together with Tatiana we went after him. In my creative biography, it was a period of significant discoveries in my profession. I played many leading roles in Mogilev. N. Gogol’s Balzaminov’s Marriage (Balzaminov), Yanka Kupala’s Local People (Nikita Znosak), M. Bulgakov’s Dog’s Heart (Sharikov) and Moliиre’s Don Juan (Don Juan). And it was there where I understood that it is impossible to become strong in your profession once and for all. As soon as you think that have achieved something in it, the stage gives you a new tests. The actor in this sense should be very flexible. It was very comfortable to work there. By the way, it was also interesting to play hares and other animals in TYuZ. There, I understood that it is necessary to perform even better for young audiences, who hear the fraud from your first words. The things which an adult spectator will forgive, politely keeping silent, will be roughly expressed by children, who show their discontent directly during a performance, without recourse to decencies.
What is your best theatrical work, which is the most favourite among all others?
Oh, I do not want to say that platitude that ‘all roles are my favourite’. Maybe, God willing, one of them is still ahead. It will be better if I tell you about the unloved one. There was one such role, when I just did not understand what I should do in it. It was a performance of The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles by Bernard Shaw. In it I played the role of Iddy. I did not like it at all. But why? The role has not been well developed initially, and I did not understand whom I should play.
Alexander Abdulov believed that his stage partner is never guilty. He said in one interview, that, if something goes wrong, it means that something wrong with him. What do you think about this?
I have never thought differently. How it is possible to accuse your partner that he or she did not manage to do something. After all, tomorrow, everyone can appear in the same position. Different situations may occur at the theatre. And incidents can happen with everyone. Not so long ago, in Executor, where I play Bobchinsky-Dobchinsky, there is a gambling scene. Responding to the line ‘seven’, I was supposed to reply ‘eight’! But, for some horrific reason, suddenly said: ‘hearts’. My co-stars could hardly stop from falling under the table from laughter, but it is necessary to finish a scene to the end, so that the audience will not realise that something went wrong. Fortunately, everything worked out well. But I am certainly ashamed that I made such a goof.
Theatre workers say that Uncle Vitya is the life and soul of a party. They also tell about your responsibility to the acting profession and that you are an example for youth. And about that the theme of human unselfishness is easy for you, because it reflects your individuality. Is it pleasant for you?
I would be lying if I began to confirm the opposite. Certainly, it is pleasant for me to hear such kind words. It is also pleasant to feel the respect and sympathy of young actors, without speaking about such artistic leaders as, as Olga Klebanovich, Alexander Tkachenok, Vladimir Shelestov, Valery Shushkevich and Ivan Matskevich.
More than once, I happened to see you relaxed, improvising in skits. What special features do such skits have, and why they are so loved by actors, not to mention audiences?
Everything is simple. Skit is freedom. The director does not loom over actors who make skits. The director certainly exists, but he also improvises together with all of us. Sometimes, the director corrects something. After all outside opinion is necessary. We, the actors, are easily carried away, and someone should send our creative stream in the right direction.
You have lived a great life at the theatre, gained experience in your profession, and also in your private life. What makes you happy today, and what saddens you?
I have a reliable friend, my wife Tanya, who is always with me throughout all my life. And she is my happiness. Tanya works in an audio recording studio, records books for the visually impaired. Her voice, according to those who listens to the audio-books, perfectly conveys the feelings of the characters. And even treats them, calming them. My wife and I have experienced many happy minutes. However, in 2006, we experienced a tragedy: our son Artem, who had graduated from the acting department and then the directing department at the Arts Academy, went missing in Russia under mysterious circumstances. We now have to live with this heavy burden. Our belief supports and strengthens us. The best of life is still ahead. Our daughter, Anna, lives with us. She is a psychologist, not yet married and pleases us with many surprising psychological things, helping us to understand ourselves. Moreover, she is a person with great, natural drawing talent. Probably, as my brother says, Anna should develop this gift, she should study. At the theatre, it is youth which makes me happy. It is very strong, talented and beautiful. It was an honour to see, how finely the young actors, under Alexandra Vergunova’s leadership, performed a skit on the occasion of my recent anniversary. I become sad from time to time, because of my thoughts. I am afraid that I may lose faith in myself, in life. By receiving a pension certificate, I suddenly discovered for myself that this is as if a one-way ticket. Sometimes I think about my health, that it will not let me down. After all, we waste it godlessly in youth, without thinking about the limit of the reserves of the human body.
If it was possible to turn back time, what would you change in your life? What professional direction would you choose?
I have never thought about it. Probably, I would become a good doctor. I like this profession. It is a kind profession, although it deals with human pain. Just like the theatre, it also treats people’s souls.
By Valentina Zhdanovich
Height of scenes of Viktor Gudinovich
<img class="imgr" alt="" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-471.jpg">[b]In the theatre world, he is well known as the master of the scene. Therefore, maybe Viktor Gudinovich, a leading actor of the National Academic Drama Theatre named after Maxim Gorky, does not need to play the leading role each time. Directors know that he will play this or that scene of the play brighter than anyone else. As you know, there are no small roles... without which the skeleton of productions can do. Each of them makes its own indispensable stroke in the performance. On his 60th anniversary, Viktor Gudinovich appeared on stage in the role of Bobchinsky-Dobchinsky in Executor by Alexey Dudarev.[/b]