Among Valery Fokin’s many titles are the Honoured Artist of Russia, a four-time Russian State Prize Awardee, and the Honoured Artist of Poland. He has been the Artistic Director of the Alexandrinsky Theatre since 2003, and a member of the High Council for Culture and Art to the President of the Russian Federation since 2006. Since 2011 he has worked as the President of Vs. Meyerhold Theatre and Culture fund. He has also presided at the Russian theatre directors’ guild since 2012.
Valery Fokin was born in Moscow in 1946. After graduating from Schukin Theatre School at the Vakhtangov theatre, where he was taught by B.E. Zakhava and M.R. Ter-Zakharova, he spent fifteen years as a director at the Sovremennik Theatre in Moscow, where his every performance attracted keen interest of the viewers and critics. The director worked with the plays of Nabokov, Vampilov, Rozov, Albee and other Russian and foreign drama masters.
In 1985 Valery Fokin became the Head of the Moscow M.N. Ermolova Theatre, with the first performances by the young Artistic Director greatly advancing the theatre’s popularity. According to the media’s unanimous verdict, the very first Fokin’s Ermolova Theatre performance Speak Up… signified the turn to the new direction. The performance brought Valery Fokin his first Russian Federation State Prize for Outstanding Work of Art and Culture.
The years 1975 to 1979 saw Valery Fokin teaching in the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts, then teaching in the Krakow High Theatre School in Poland during 1993-1994 and then the Toen Theatre in Tokyo, Japan. He also hosted a workshop at Theatre Directing courses in Spain, Sweden and Bulgaria.
Since 1988, Valery Fokin has presided at Meyerhold’s Legacy Preservation Commission. In 1991, following the Commission’s initiative and supported by the Russian Theatre Employees Union and the Russian Architects Union, the Meyerhold Centre (MC) was founded. By the Moscow Government decision, in 1999 the Centre was given a unitary enterprise status. In 2000 Valery Fokin was awarded the Russian State Prize in the category of education for his efforts for preservation, research and development of Vs. Meyerhold’s legacy, and for creating the Meyerhold Theatre and Culture Centre.
The Centre moved into a new building on February 12, 2001. Valery Fokin was the Manager and Artistic Director of the Centre from its foundation until September 2011, when he became its President.
In 1996, two Valery Fokin festivals were organised in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. They were called Valery Fokin. Three performances on the Arena (Moscow, March 1996) and Valery Fokin Metamorphoses (Saint Petersburg, the Na Liteinom Theatre, November-December 1996).
Valery Fokin deals continuously in his art with the keenest and the most painful questions of the recent past, which had been long forbidden to discuss and which are still current issues today. His performances, both modern and classic, are characterised with deep philosophic metaphors, keen artistic view, theatrical imagination and deep psychological into the characters’ psyche. It is natural that Fokin’s directing style attracts interest abroad. There are Fokin performances shown in the USA, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and France. The shows are not only masterfully directed, but also reveal the director’s original interpretation of well-known characters.
Fokin’s Room in a NN… Hotel (the MC, Moscow, 1994), The Metamorphose by Kafka (the MC together with the Satirikon Theatre, 1995), More Van Gogh (the MC together with O.Tabakov Theatre, 1998), Tatiana Repina by A. Chekhov (the Avignon Festival, France together with MYVT, 1998), The Inspector General by N. Gogol (the Alexandrinsky Theatre together with the Meyerhold Centre, 2002) were highly acclaimed by the theatre-going public in Russia and abroad. They are not only full of visual appeal, dynamic character and paradox, they also reveal the director’s personal search for the new theatre language, which makes it possible to consider Fokin one of the leaders of the modern European Stage.
The Ten Valery Fokin Performances Festival, organised in February 2016 in Saint Petersburg, provided a good insight into the director’s artistic development and growing creative experience since his first Alexandrinsky Theatre performance in 2002.