Mikhail Shchepkin

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Portrait by Nikolai Nevrev

Mikhail Semyonovich Shchepkin (Russian: Михаи́л Семёнович Ще́пкин, November 17, 1788, the village Krasnoe, Oboyan county, Kursk Province – August 11, 1863) was the most famous Russian Empire actor of the 19th century.


Shchepkin was born in Russia, in the village Krasnoe, to a serf family owned by Count G. S. Volkenshtein.[1] Shchepkin's freedom had to be bought by his admirers in 1821. Three years later, he joined the Maly Theatre in Moscow, which he would dominate for the next 40 years—it became known as the 'House of Shchepkin'.[2] Shchepkin was the first to play Famusov in the Woe from Wit (1831) and the Mayor in The Government Inspector (1836). His acting was acclaimed by Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Herzen, and Ivan Turgenev for its subtlety, with much attention given to realistic detail and understatement.

Acting Philosophy[edit]

Shchepkin argued that an actor ought to get into the skin of a character, identifying with their thoughts and feelings; observation of life and the actor's knowledge of their own nature provide the source for an actor's work.[2] In 1848 he wrote:

Shchepkin's distinction between the 'actor of reason' and the 'actor of feeling' influenced the formation of the ideas about acting contained in the 'system' devised by Constantin Stanislavski.


  1. ^ http://www.answers.com/topic/mikhail-shchepkin
  2. ^ a b Benedetti (1999, 16).
  3. ^ Quoted in Benedetti (1999, 16).


  • Benedetti, Jean. 1999. Stanislavski: His Life and Art. Revised edition. Original edition published in 1988. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-52520-1.
  • Senelick, Laurence. 1984. Serf Actor: The Life and Art of Mikhail Shchepkin. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood P. ISBN 0-313-22494-3.

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