STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP)–Aleksey Novikov, famed director of the Moscow Art Theater is dead at 83. The famous protege of Ivan Polikoff is best remembered for his 1949 production of Hamlet. The play was interrupted before final curtain, and authorities arrested Novikov and accused him of anti-Soviet propaganda under Article 58 paragraph 10 of the Soviet criminal code. He was convicted and sentenced to a Siberian labor camp. In 1959, with the tacit permission of Khrushchev, Novikov left prison and eventually escaped to Sweden where he lived and worked until his death.
In 1999 the Swedish government awarded Novikov the medal of artistic merit. He directed a revival of his production of Hamlet on its 50th anniversary the very same year. It featured a Trotski-resembling ghost of Hamlet’s Father, a Stalin-esque Claudius, and a hammer-and-sickle duel between Laertes and Hamlet. Critics praised the play. Benkt Fromberg, lead critic for the Postnyhetsbyrå praised the depiction of Gertrude as a Russian Peasant woman. He wrote, “… investing the capricious and adulterous Gertrude with the dowdiness of a Russian peasant so aptly illustrated the seduction of the Russian people that I could barely watch for fear my heart would break.” Novikov’s niece commented on her uncle’s death from Taiwan in a telephone interview. She says that for Novikov, “Hamlet represents the struggle of every artist when faced with concrete wrong and uncertain tools for resistance.”
Memorial Services are on Friday in Stockholm. Novikov will be buried in his birthplace, Vilnius Lithuania.
It seems fitting to quote the bard, “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
UPDATE: I should also mention that Aleksey Novikov does not exist.