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News

Russian drama theater actor attempts suicide on stage over management pressure

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Actor Artur Shuvalov of the Russian Drama Theater in Ulan-Ude opened his veins on stage after a performance and is currently receiving medical treatment in the hospital, a Sibir.Realii correspondent reports. According to the actor, he was driven to take this drastic step due to the pressure he had been facing from management over the past year, as well as the dismissal of his wife from the theater. Spectators present during the incident captured footage on video, with one eyewitness recording being shared on the Telegram channel Baza.

The management allegedly demanded the resignation of Shuvalov and other actors and exerted pressure on them because of their calls for reinstatement of Sergei Levitsky, the former head of the theater who was dismissed a year ago due to his anti-war stance. In protest against the management's actions, the actors removed the banner with the letter Z from the theater building and filed complaints about the new artistic director, Vyacheslav Diachenko. In an interview, Diachenko referred to the actors as “representatives of the oldest profession” and expressed his intention to stage productions that are “simpler and more understandable to ordinary people.”

During his speech, Shuvalov explained his position:

“I have been subjected to a year-long campaign aimed at terminating my employment, shaming me, and depriving me of work and earnings. Today, my wife Svetlana Polyanskaya was dismissed, the management signed her letter of resignation. I refuse to accept this treatment any longer, but I have no choice; feel helpless and drained. I reject the notion that artists are comparable to “representatives of the oldest profession.” Moreover, I believe that our audience deserves sophisticated directing, contrary to the views of our artistic director.
I ask for your forgiveness once again, but I am worn out, and I have no other alternatives left. All I want to say is that Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Dyachenko and Natalia Nikolaevna Svetozarova (theater manager) are accountable for my demise.”

Audience members told Sibir.Realii that at first they thought it was part of the production. The actor was taken off stage by his colleagues.

Russian theater employees who have expressed opposition to the war in Ukraine, which was initiated by the Russian Federation, have reportedly faced dismissals. In January, Maria Revyakina, the manager of the State Theater of Nations, who is a recipient of the State Prize of Russia and serves as the general director of the national theater award “Golden Mask,” resigned from her position. She had been the head of the theater since 2012. Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Revyakina shared an anti-war appeal on her Facebook page by theater workers, which called for the withdrawal of Russian troops. Some actors have been terminated from their jobs due to their public stance against the war. For instance, Konstantin Khabensky, the head of the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater (MHT), fired actor Dmitry Nazarov and his wife, Olga Vasilyeva, who is an Honored Artist of Russia, citing “statements about SMO and anti-Russian sentiments.”

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