N. Gogol had the closest relations with the Alexandrinsky Theatre. He dreamed of becoming an actor of the Petersburg dramatic stage in his youth; later on, already a famous writer and dramatist, he had been personally engaged in production of premieres of his plays. In 1836 he was present at the rehearsals of his immortal comedy The Inspector General. He had been reading the comedy to actors at the Actors lobby, and made amendments and changes to the text at the rehearsal room and the theatre hall in the course of the probing performing. The Inspector General became the most frequently performed play in the repertoire of not only the Alexandrinsky Theatre, but the Russian theatre as a whole.
It was here, at the den of the Alexandrinsky Theatre, that Gogol came to an idea to show the variety of public opinions and judgements in a dramatic episode. And here you are: the public itself was turned into the stage characters in the famous Public Going Home after the First Night of a New Comedy. All the writer’s dramatic compositions had been produced at the Alexandrinsky Theatre; some of his prosaic writings had also been staged here in the lifetime of the writer.
An attempt to recreate Gogol’s world stage has been made in this hall. Photos of various productions of The Inspector General, up to the latest one directed by Valery Fokin and honoured by many theatre and state awards, are represented in the hall. You can see the costume of the Governor impersonated by V. Davydov in the 1883 production; the director’s copy of L. Vivien who had produced The Inspector General in 1952 with B. Freindlich in the role of Khlestakov, Yu. Tolubeyev in the role of the Governor, and N. Cherkasov in the role of Osip.
The original costumes and stage property from the performance Chichikov’s Adventures or the Dead Souls created by director N. Sheiko after N. Gogol’s poem The Dead Souls take a noticeable place in the exhibit. A true constellation of brilliant Alexandrinsky actors were assembled together in this performance produced in 1974: Igor Gorbachev (Chichikov), Vasily Merkuriev (Manilov), Yury Tolubeyev (Sobakevich), Lidia Shtykan (Korobochka), Alexandr Borisov (Plyushkin), Ivan Dmitriyev (Nozdrev).