Taniuk, Les

Image - Les Taniuk Image - Maksym Rylsky at an event organized by Les Taniuk and the Club of Creative Youth in Kyiv (1960s).

Taniuk, Les [Танюк, Лесь; Tanjuk, Les’], b 8 August 1938 in Zhukove, Kyiv oblast, d 18 March 2016 in Kyiv. Theater director, writer, and political activist. A pupil of Marian Krushelnytsky and a proponent of Les Kurbas’s method, he completed study at the Kyiv Institute of Theater Arts (1963). In 1959–63 he was president of the Club of Creative Youth in Kyiv and organizer of the New Kyiv Theater. He also worked in theaters in Odesa and Kharkiv, where he staged Mykola Kulish’s plays. After being heavily censored and accused by officials of abstract art and formalism in his productions, Taniuk left the Ukrainian SSR, in 1965. He directed over 50 productions in Moscow (Maiakovsky Theater and Stanislavsky Theater), Leningrad, and Smolensk, worked for Moscow television, wrote a monograph about Krushelnytsky (1974), and translated Edward Gordon Craig’s On the Art of the Theatre (1974).

In 1986 Taniuk was invited to lead the Kyiv Youth Theater, where he translated (with Ivan Drach) and premiered a controversial production of Mikhail Shatrov’s Dyktatura sovisti (The Dictatorship of the Conscience) and staged the works of Les Kurbas, William Shakespeare, Ivan Franko, Aleksandr Pushkin, and Vasyl Stus. Prior to his intended production of Mykola Kulish's Myna Mazailo (to have been staged in Lviv), Taniuk was removed from the Kyiv Youth Theater for ‘professional ineligibility’ and replaced by Volodymyr Ohloblyn (1988). He became involved in the Memorial society and the Popular Movement of Ukraine. In 1990 he was elected to the Supreme Council of Ukraine, where he headed the parliamentary commission on culture and spiritual rebirth. Since 1992 he has been the head of the Memorial society.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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