Anatoly Gushchin

Actor, director, teacher. Actor of the Bolshoi Puppet Theatre

Anatoly graduated from SPbGATI, majoring in puppet theatre acting: class of Ruslan Kudashov (2011). In 2016 he made his debut at BTK as a director. Creates productions and music design. The stories, which the director is interested in, are focused on the search for answers about the world order, the laws of relations between people. The simplicity of texture and sets echo the desire to get to the core of things.
Anatoly teaches at the department of puppet theatre at RGISI, delivers master-classes and acting workshops in Russia and abroad, works as director-assistant to Anna Ivanova-Brashinskaya (project R&J). He takes active part in directors’ labs: a participant of the Laboratory of Figurative Theatre (Russia, Karlsson Haus, 2016, 2017), BTK-LAB: Laboratory for young directors dedicated to new children’s literature led by Ruslan Kudashov (Russia, Bolshoi Puppet Theatre, 2017), KINO Nordic Project (Norway, 2017), and others.
Winner of the XXVI festival Theatres of St. Petersburg for Children for the directing, adapting, and designing: the production Buzzy-Wuzzy Busy Fly, BTK, 2016. One of the most famous stories from Russian children’s literature was performed in an out-of-the-ordinary way: to contemporary electronic music, as well as the pieces by Pink Floyd and The Doors. The production was also nominated for the Highest Theatre Award of St. Petersburg The Golden Sofit – 2017.

The principal productions:

Speckled Hen (2016, The Bolshoi Puppet Theatre: adaptation, directing, production and music design)

Buzzy-Wuzzy Busy Fly (2017 г, The Bolshoi Puppet Theatre: adaptation, directing, production and music design)

“Theatre of the future is total synthesis. It seems to me that all the directions of theatre are going to merge into one flow. One can notice this even now. I think that, sooner or later, they will stop distinguishing between the genres (drama, musical, puppet, etc.) altogether.”
Project BTK-85
“Recently, more and more often, I have been thinking about the fact that it is much more difficult to find a common language with a child. That is why, in certain aspects, it is much more interesting to direct a production for children.”
Brochure of BTK-LAB


Name. Anatoly Gushchin

Date and place of birth. 9 November 1982, Rostov region (Gukovo)

Education. Petersburg State Academy of Theatre Arts (SPbGATI – RGISI), major in puppet theatre acting (2006-2011, workshop of R. Kudashov)

In a nutshell, tell us about your career (who had an impact on you, how and where you started, who you worked with, where you work now). How did you find yourself in puppet theatre?  Thanks to the Theatre Academy, my paths often crossed with those of professionals in the area of puppet theatre. I experienced a major influence of the teaching team led by Ruslan Kudashov: Ruslan Ravilevich himself, Sergei Dmitrievich Byzgu, Yana Markovna Tumina, Andrei Valeryevich Knyazkov, Anna Arkadyevna Ivanova-Brashinskaya. A huge trigger for me was working with Alexei Anatolyevich Lelyavsky, Ruslan Ibragimov. Also, such great men of puppet theatre as Philippe Genty: the first production I saw completely changed my perception of puppet theatre and its scale, about the degree of aliveness achieved by puppets.  Besides that, dance, plasticity – I am always paying attention to all of those. I learnt a lot from such productions as Nevsky Prospect (Potudan’ Theatre, director R. Kudashov), works by Rezo Gabriadze, Eimuntas Nekrosius with his synthetic visual theatre, inspiring people to continue their searches. From directors, working in other genres: animation filmmaker Jan Švankmajer. I do my own production design: I like to build a production from the visual point of view, hence my interest in painters and specific paintings: Yerka, Chagall, Vrubel, Dali, Pollock, Van Gogh, surrealism, mystic realism.

Favorite authors, subject, stories. I am interested in Human Beings. What they are and what they encounter during the course of their lives. It is curious to reflect on the experience of humankind, which is ingrained in our being from the moment of birth and at some point needs to come out. In every human being there is hypocrisy, the ability to deceit and betray: you either treat this with negligence and do nothing or search for the way to overcome this, trying to be honest with yourself. When my son was born, I started thinking how to explain to him the world order and the laws of life – moreover, to explain this to him (and, together with him, to other children) in such a way that it would not scare him off. I thought about betrayal, good, evil, relations, about the opportunity to avoid certain objective laws of life. I thought how important it was to call a spade a spade. Look at Hamlet, for instance. There can be so many interpretations, if we talk about homicide caused by the longing for justice. On the one hand, a terrifying number of deaths and grieves are Hamlet’s fault.  He could have kept silence, gone away, left everything as it was. However, we could look at this story from the vantage point of honesty and discover the world where the moral poles have shifted:  the woman cheats on her husband, the brother kills his brother. We could recall that all of them should serve as orienting points for their subjects and, if the lie is born, it takes over everything: white becomes black, black becomes white, and people, based on their new understanding of ‘normal’ and acceptable, commit terrible things. Van Gogh could not help but create his work. Hamlet could not help but speak the truth.

In general, the work on the production or the role partly reflects the reality which you live in at the moment. And the world sends you the necessary material – people, films, books, authors. Of interest are subjects of blasphemy in art, subjects of hidden hostility in human communication, the experience and laws of human relations.

What would you like to direct in puppet theatre and why exactly with puppets? Eye of the Wolf by Daniel Pennac, literary anecdotes by Daniil Kharms, A Cloud in Trousers by V. Mayakovsky, the tale of Ilya Muromets. In general, I would like to work with legends about Russian knights, strangers, to understand what kind of person a knight is, what type of spirit these people had, where they came from, what qualities they could have had. To work either with the memoirs of Alexander Pokryshkin (an outstanding pilot, hero of the Great Patriotic War), or to do a production based on the memoirs of guerilla fighters: to introduce the audience to this side of the war, perhaps to direct a production about the people who managed to develop in them the qualities, which were characteristic of those heroes and not always characteristic of modern man. Certain things should be remembered. All of this – in puppet theatre. I can not direct productions in another way and do not see any sense in doing this in a different space: puppet theatre may include everything.

Is the expression “puppet theatre” still relevant today? (yes/no) Why? In my opinion, it is still relevant. Of course, this expression could imply theatre which was popular in Soviet times: a screen, on which the life of puppets is happening without human interference. We could find theatres, where this is still relevant. However, puppet theatre has become much wider and extensive: now its attention is focused on the actor who openly operates the puppets. Now what we are watching is not a specific story of puppets, but a combination of two worlds – live actor and the objects. In this case, a man becomes a puppet, too. We can easily imagine an object having living energy: a mug, a glass, a book, a lighter, we can sympathize with it. We sense that this object can express human emotions or those of its own. At the same time, it remains an object, it is always a character which is operated by someone, i.e. a puppet. Therefore I think that the expression puppet theatre is still relevant, and, thanks to the mixture of genres, it develops itself more and more, yet remains in the framework of interaction between a puppet and a puppeteer. We could say that this is theatre of object, but I would rather say that this is a wish to single out a new form of art. Puppet theatre includes everything – visual aspect, the aspect of objects: it is born in that and draws from that.

Mass Media Feedback:

“Young authors of the production for children – for very-very small children – have taken into consideration a very simple fact: parents of these children are also relatively young, 20+, 30–. Young people, hipsters, children of Internet, and eternal teenagers. Director Anatoly Gushchin (graduate of Ruslan Kudashov’s class - do not confuse him with his namesake from Moscow who often plays the lead in police and gangster TV series) seems to have directed this production for himself and his colleagues, members of the same age group. Thus, he arranged Korney Chukovsky’s immortal masterpiece in hip-hop style.”

Olga Komok

"Delovoy Peterburg" [Business St.Petersburg]

“However, there are young directors, who are not afraid of experiments and are fond of ‘swashbuckling’ approach to the canonical material. Thus, in Anatoly Gushchin’s production of Buzzy-Wuzzy Busy Fly at the Bolshoi Puppet Theatre (BTK) puppeteers-narrators, in their costumes with a statement “I love bugs”, resemble ghost busters; the performance is accompanied by Pink Floyd, The Doors, and Sergei Kurekhin’s music, and lighting and set design make one believe that the action takes place on another planet”.

Tatyana Sheremet