Russian puppeteer, playwright, director, actor. Evgeni Speransky would become the leading actor of the Sergei Obraztsov Central Puppet Theatre in the 1930s-1950s (see Gosudarstvenny akademichesky tsentralny teatr kukol imeni S.V. Obraztsova, the Sergei Obraztsov State Academic Central Puppet Theatre).
Evgeni Speransky began his puppetry career at the studios of the Moscow Tsentralny Dom Khudozhestvennogo Vospitania Detei (Central House of Art Education for Children). There he met Lenora Shpet. In 1931, he joined the company of the recently established Gosudarstvenny tsentralny teatr kukol (State Central Puppet Theatre), working with it for over forty years beside Sergei Obraztsov. Speransky played sixty-one roles in twenty-five productions. His best-known roles were Aladdin in Volshebnaya lampa Aladdina (Aladdin`s Magic Lamp), Truffaldino in Korol olen (The King Stag), and M.C. Aplombov in Neobyknovenny kontsert (The Unusual Concert), the latter earning him worldwide acclaim.
His ability to blend inseparably with a puppet and express the character’s most subtle nuances by an elaborately economical yet sophisticated body language made him one of the greatest puppeteers of the 20th century. In 1966, he was awarded the title of “A Merited Artist of the Russian Federation”.
Evgeni Speransky wrote twelve plays for the State Central Puppet Theatre, most of which were later included in the repertoire of many Russian puppet companies: Pod shorokh tvoikh resnits (The Flutter of Her Eye-Lashes), I-go-go (I GoGo), Krasa nenaglyadnaya (The Beauty Unrivalled), as well as his stage versions of Anton Chekhov’s Kashtanka and Soldat i vedma (The Soldier and the Witch) after Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Tinderbox”, which were among his greatest successes. Equally popular were his books on puppet theatre, especially Aktyor teatra kukol (The Actor of the Puppet Theatre) and Povest o strannom zhanre (Tale of a Strange Genre). After leaving the stage in 1973, he wrote books and articles on puppetry, art and poetry. His first collection of poems, Krugi na vode (Ripples on the Water), appeared in 1998 when he turned 95.
Evgeni Speransky called the puppeteer’s profession “bizarre”, and the art of puppetry “paradoxical”. He lived almost throughout the entire 20th century and called one of his last poems Farewell to the Century.
- Goldovsky, Boris. Kukly Entsiklopediya [Puppets. Encyclopedia]. Moscow: Vremya, 2004, p. 373.
- Kalmanovsky, E.S. Teatr kukol, den segodnyashniy [The Puppet Theatre, the Present Day]. Leningrad: Iskusstvo, 1977, pp. 44-48.
- Speransky, Evgeni. Aktyor teatra kukol [The Actor of the Puppet Theatre]. Moscow: VTO, 1965.
- Speransky, Evgeni. Povest o strannom zhanre [Tale of a Strange Genre]. Moscow: VTO, 1971.