Note from TTT: Mikhail Ugarov, co-founder of Moscow’s Teatr.doc and a leading figure of the contemporary Russian theatre, died unexpectedly on April 1, 2018. The following tribute was penned by Russian playwright Mikhail Durnenkov.

Mikhail Yurievich Ugarov’s funeral took place on April 5. Of course, certain clichés immediately come to mind—“no one could have anticipated it,” “it was so sudden,” “he went quickly,” and so on. The main thing isn’t even his age—he was young for a thinker and “man of the theatre,” just 62 years old—but that he had so much left to do. The entire trajectory of his life, his inventions, and his new ideas means that it is too early to speak of an ending.

Ugarov wasn’t called to power or government—he opposed them consistently—but he was called on by something important: the theatre, his surroundings, the times. In the coming period we will need to reflect on his contributions, but if we imagine both the Russian and the wider, global theatre as a living, feeling organism, then he was called to the theatre, to clean it out, to call for accountability in this historical moment in which we find ourselves.

During the revolution in art that we are currently experiencing, Ugarov refreshed contemporaneity’s place as a point of contact with eternity: he invited us to define ourselves through the contemporary moment, through the reality that surrounds us, to recognize ourselves as the people of this country, this time, this epoch.

It is likely that no one else did so much to force us, dramaturgs, actors, and directors, to stop pointlessly chasing after colorful flights of fancy. Mikhail Yurievich taught us that everything important was under our noses: don’t miss it! Don’t hide behind the artistry, don’t hide behind your knowledge, behind clichés; don’t be afraid to open up the doors and go out toward life itself.

And now, having followed his advice, we stand among this thing, life, and look around. But there’s no melancholy in this, no bewilderment, because we see the faces of our friends, colleagues, and students, the dumbfounded faces of luminaries who have realized that they have the ability to make their lives the subject matter of great art; we stand here and understand that there are many of us, that we are not alone. And just one person is missing, whose presence would have allowed for complete happiness— our dear, eternally beloved friend and teacher Mikhail Yurievich Ugarov.

Let things be good for him there, just like they were at the very first Teatr.doc performance on Trekhprudny Lane, where a number of people experienced the happiest moments of their lives.

Mikhail Ugarov. By Zimin.V.G. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Translated from the Russian by Rose FitzPatrick. This article originally appeared on the website of the Russian theatre journal Teatr. Translated and reprinted with permission.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Mikhail Durnenkov.

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