“THIS IS THE BEST PROFESSION IN THE WORLD…”
Honoured actress of Belarus Olimpiada Shakh-Paron during her long dramatic life played nearly one hundred roles. She played almost all of them on the stage of the National Academic Drama Theatre named after M. Gorky
Olivia, Cleopatra, Dezdemona, Regana, Maria Stuart… Unfortunately, I didn’t have an occasion to see neither Shakespeare heroines of Shakh-Paron, nor her favorite role — Lidia in “Crazy money” by Ostrovsky, nor Fru Alving in “Ghosts” by Ibsen. According to theater critics, these images were bright, they stuck in memory by their depth and passion.
Today the oldest actress (60 years in her native theatre!), who has recently became 85, goes on stage in two performances “Uncle’s dream” by Dostoevsky and “Strawberry glade” by Bergman. Wisdom, dignity and permanent professionalism accompany her.
— Olimpiada Ivanovna, I heard that you have flatly refused to celebrate your jubilee.
— During my whole dramatic life I didn’t celebrate at least one of them: I couldn’t imagine me sitting on the stage and being honored. Probably, this is modesty, which was fostered in our family. My grandmother and mother convinced me: don’t wait gratefulness for your labour. Besides, they didn’t like praise very much…
— But an actress needs ambition…
— I managed to do without it.
— Did anybody in your family have something to do with a theatre?
— My father, a children’s doctor, was a theatre-goer. In his time he overviewed all performances with great Komissarzhevskaya. When we moved to Moscow, from 1933 to 1941 I got acquainted with repertory of the Moscow Art Theatre, the Small Theatre, the Theatre of Vakhtangov. There I entered the City theatrical college, and in the 44th I graduated from it.
— What do you remember from your childhood?
— I was raised and brought up in a really intelligent surroundings. During my whole life, for example, I didn’t say a word to my mother with a shade of anger. Furthermore, since childhood I have been taught working. I didn’t see my relatives to spend time in idleness. I was born in my grandmother’s estate in the village of Scherbachevka (this is a moderate climate of Russia), where my grandmother opened a school for peasant children. She liked peasants and when she came to village for the whole summer, she took chests with medicines and helped peasants with everything she could. They paid her back in her own coin. I remember from my early childhood a big apple garden, where I played, a rainbow after rain, a lot of sun, evening tea from thin cups… My mother and grandmother speak French, when they don’t want us to hear something forbidden…My childhood was happy.
— And what about a theatrical life?
— It was also happy. It shaped that stage-directors saw an actress in me.
— What is your favourite role?
— When in 1947 I came to the theatre, I was actively engaged in the repertory. But these were the roles of heroines. And I wanted to play a character. This is how in my artistic life came Lidia in the performance “Crazy money”. I have one more favorite role. This is Fru Alving in “Ghosts” by Ibsen . Besides, I got it thanks to my refusal to celebrate a jubilee. When my director asked me how I want to celebrate my jubilee, I said: “Give me a role…”
— Did you take offence at the critics of your roles?
— No. I always listened to it and made conclusions. Of course, I could disagree with something. Besides, I appreciated home critics very much. My husband Vladimir Nefed understood theatre very good by virtue of his profession of theatrical history and critics.
— What do you feel going on the stage?
— Slight excitement and happiness are unavoidable actor’s companions, especially before the premiere.
— Did you have occasions when after a performance you told to yourself: this is a frost?
— I am a great ouroboro and, as a rule, I suffer after the performance, whether I played correctly. Sometimes I think that I paced accents incorrectly… Now it also happens. But there weren’t frosts.
— Which stage partners do you appreciate?
— Those that remember about a “binding” with a partner and don’t pull over a blanket.
— Do you like today’s youth and how do you feel near it on the stage?
— I refer kindly to them and they pay me back with the same coin. I like their mobility, energetic, ability to exist happily on the stage and in life. I welcomed the decision of Boris Lutsenko (an art director of the theatre — the author’s note), when the whole course of graduates of the theatrical faculty came to us. Besides, I have six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. I have an outstanding possibility to observe young people closer. They are wonderful.
— Is the feeling of artistic jealousy known to your?
— It is known to me. But I controlled it. You can always find a healthy compromise. I often had to rehearse with actors the same role. But we didn’t snatch rehearsals from each other. I remember me and my friend throwing a coin to decide who is going to play a premiere. This was me. This was a normal creative process.
— What is, in your opinion, a phenomenon of an actor?
— This is the best profession in the world, which allows feeling that people need you during a performance, not to speak of a bow. This is a wonderful and bright possibility to live for them.
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