Valentin Pluchek

VALENTIN Pluchek, who directed the often-daring Moscow Theatre of Satire for half a century, has died in Moscow. He was 93.

Pluchek began his theatrical career working with Vsevolod Meyerhold, the relentlessly experimental director who was arrested and shot in 1940, and then with the playwright Alexei Arbuzov. He joined the Satire in 1950 and became its chief director in 1957. Under his direction, the Satire became one of the most popular theatres in a city where the stage attracts intense interest, noted for its strong, cohesive troupe and for bringing fresh winds of thought during stodgy and fearful times. Agitated crowds of ticket seekers frequently gathered outside the theatre on the Garden Ring that encircles central Moscow.

Among his best-known productions were Nikolai Gogol’s Inspector General, Alexander Griboyedov’s Woe from Wit and two plays that were quickly banned by Soviet authorities: Terkin in a Better World by Alexander Tvardovsky and Nazym Khikmet’s Did Ivan Ivanovich Really Exist? The theatre also produced Flight, by Mikhail Bulgakov, whose works had infuriated Soviet censors for decades.