|«The genealogy of Sergey Bezrukov – as written by his father, Vitaly Bezrukov».
«I am Bezrukov, Sergey Vitalievich, and have been for 37 years.
I come from a long line of farmers of the Nizhegorodsk region. All my maternal and paternal ancestors were “Volzhane” (Volga people). They lived and worked on the banks of this great river. Among them were ploughmen, fishermen, barge pullers (burlaks) and rafters. Who knows, perhaps one of my ancestors, a member of Sten’ka Razin’s gang, shouted, “Saryn’ na kichku!” (which means “Barge pullers, come from the towpath onto the prow!”) and brandished his flail; such willful, wild men sprouted from my family tree.
All of that I learned from my father, Vitaly Bezrukov, who was the first of our dynasty to “plough” not just theatrical “ground”, but also paper. In his youth, with his fellow-countrymen, he “wrote his lines in the grass” of the Volga fields… In preparation for his first play “Who Used To Be A Nobody…” Father meticulously questioned the elders of his own village about his forefathers. “Bezrukov…? Ivan Fedorovich…? Of course, we remember. He was a great man!” Volgar’ (Volga-man) in one word. He could swim across the river “sazhonka” style – similar to the crawl. About my great grandfather, Stepan Ivanovich, the toothless babushkas said: “Oh, no doubt! When our village men met in battles with another village’s men face to face, he never hid behind the others. “Here I am, come on!”, great grandfather Stepan shouted with all his might. Probably not unlike my father, playing Karl Moor in a production of Schiller’s “Highwaymen”, cried: “I am your leaaaaa-der!” Goosebumps! I am eyewitness myself to that.
As a boy I watched from the wings when my father performed. Those are my roots! The might and the force from the high banks of the Volga River. That explains the temperament, I humbly testify.
Perhaps for this wild swagger, and especially for the love of horses, as well as for being educated, his master the bankrupt landowner descendant of Prince Shepilov employed my great grandfather as his horseman and bodyguard. Why not? The dark times were approaching. Revolution! Damn that thing! His wife and little children were left behind in the village. The youngest of them, Sergey, would become my grandfather. The revolution turned my great grandfather, Stepan Ivanovich Bezrukov, from a horseman into a dray-man (izvozchik) of a horse-drawn carriage. That famous scenario “who used to be a nobody…”. During the Civil War my great grandfather had disappeared while fighting under either the red or the white flag – or perhaps even under the black one; as Volga-men, anarchy and mutiny are in our blood, as per Stepan Razin.
Grandfather Sergey Stepanovich did not live to know me, but I know everything about him. Looking at his photo I see a young lieutenant of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs). In the rough and evil Stalin’s times his soul did not harden, he neither accepted nor succumbed to the witch-hunting devil who dominated the cob-webbed Russia of that time. Desperately he tried to free some people from the meat-grinding of 1937. He helped many of his Nizhegorod fellow-countrymen out of Collective Farming slavery. “Sergey Stepanovich! Our guardian angel!” – the elders bowed their head to him not with servility but with gratitude for their rescued children. This guardian angel also saved Count Shepilov’s descendant, a railway engineer… Saved him from what? What would the future hold for an intellectual with the stigma of nobility if the NKVD officer Bezrukov had not deleted his profile?
Then came the war. Grandad was fighting in SMERSH (Counterintelligence Organisation, a division of The Ministry of Defence, named after the “Death to Spies!” slogan, a.k.a. “SMERt’ SHpionam”). He was the soul of every company. He sang with a high clear voice, accompanying himself on guitar or concertina. He left this world when still young. My relatives say that I look like him. I was named after him. By the way, when portraying Esenin I played my grandfathers’ concertina, which was brought from the village by my dad. A family relic! The soul of my grandfather was singing when I was stretching out that 3-rowed concertina!
My father, Vitaly Sergeevich Bezrukov, is an actor, dramatist, director and screenwriter. The most important of his roles is being my teacher – my “sen-say”. I studied acting in Oleg Tabakov’s class in the Moscow Art Theatre School Studio in the same way he had done. He insisted on my attending the music school. I must say one thing about my Father, whatever he takes on – acting, teaching, directing, writing – his farmer’s strong grip shines through. Bless him and my Mother, Natalya Mikhailovna, who gave me life and whose love never ceases to warm me. She is from the Volga too. A Volga-girl with a baby deer’s eyes, a niece to my father thrice-removed!
That’s my family tree – “all our riches”, as the saying goes».
«My mother was protecting me like a bird covering her chick with her wings, but failed: the thespian virus was passed on to me by my father. And how strong it was! This is the list of my work in MAT School studio:
Prov — «Nest of the Woodgrouse» (V. Rozov)
Count Myshkin — «Idio» (F. Dostoevsky)
Rasplyuev — «Marriage of Krechinsky» (A. Sukhovo-Kobylin)
Golokhvostov — «After Two Rabbits» (M. Staritsky)
Hamlet — «Hamlet» (W. Shakespeare)
Sacristan — «Witch» (V. Bezrukov’s play based on A. Chekhov stories)
Impostor — «Boris Godunov» (A. Pushkin)
Khlestakov — «Inspector General» (N. Gogol’)
Glumov — «Every Wise Man Stumbles…» (N. Ostrovsky)
Paul— «Barefoot in the Park» (N. Simon)
Those were pieces, parts, excerpts… Diploma work – “Roof” was directed by Galin, Oleg Tabakov’s teacher. In another play, “A Summer Day” by S. Mrożek, I played the main character and tried my hand at directing. Tabakov chuckled, the audience applauded.
Finally, I am an actor…have a diploma with honours. I’ve started working on Tabakerka’s stage as a 3rd year student and the role of Eugene in “Biloxi Blues” was accepted as my final diploma thesis. And it snowballed from there…! Hungry for work! I am a maximalist, just like my ancestors. I am working! Ploughing! Not in one theatre but in several: “Tabakerka”, Moscow Art Theatre, Ermolova Theatre, an entrepreneurial theatre “Art-Partner XXI”. And cinema? Cinema! Cinema! Cinema!
I humbly ask you not to judge my work by the “friendly” reviews and newspapers’ gossips. You are better off asking someone who saw me perform, who knows me and, better yet, you should come to see my performances yourself. If you are lucky enough to get a ticket… It’s a joke! – or maybe not.
Sergey Bezrukov from the long line of Nizhegorodsk Region’s farmers, which is on the Volga river!»
Written by Vitaly Bezrukov