Ángel Gutiérrez (Spain)
One of the greatest and most influential modern theatre practitioners of our time, theatre director, and leading researcher of The Stanislavsky Method and of the literary and artistic heritage of Anton Chekhov
Ángel Gutiérrez was born in Havana in 1936, and soon after traveled to Spain with his mother, brothers and sisters. In Spain, they settled down in Pintueles, a little village in Asturias, where he spent his first childhood and where he was lovingly known by everyone as “Angelito”.
Ángel remembers these fond times and tenderly tells adventures from a time when he lived, as he describes, like a “God-child.” He recounts stories of his experiences with a shepherd on the mountains, how a donkey stepped on his flute, how he for the first time listened to a music band…and how without him realizing it, he was beginning to create his artistic and spiritual world.
This first childhood was abruptly transformed when he was six years old and was taken to Kooperasiya (U.S.S.R), as a part of the group called “War Children” that escaped from The Spanish Civil War terror. He had to depart, and with no time had to leave behind his village and people, and commence what was the beginning of a life path full of artistic experiences. When he arrived in Russia, he lived with other “war children” in a boarding school in Stalingrad for ten years. “There I received all the love that a man can feel. And had masters that gave me everything — in them I met the father figure that I had never enjoyed.”
That’s the time that later inspired him to write, “A la mar fui por naranjas” (“To the sea I went for oranges”) – a film script that he dreams of directing one day.
During his youth, he remembers the cold in the Ural mountains, the Siege of Leningrad, moments when he starved, Stalin…but in his memories there is never sadness or cruelty, rather they are full of light, love and sacrifice for that country, for its spirit, for its people…there was such an ideal, and a naïve, but strong faith for transforming the world into a better place, that the essence of that little Spanish child was forever transformed into Russian — pure Russian soul. According to his words, “My second childhood in Russia – Leningrad…my first masters…helped me to open my eyes and discover the meaning of life — to live for others, for justice in the world, and fraternity among all mankind in the world.” He remembers this as a very important time for his artistic discovery – a time “…without pain, loss, suffering, war, starvation. We can discover what is essential in life and art, and live to overcome oneself.”
Once he became an adult, he joined the State Art Academy in Moscow where he received a degree in Theatre Direction with outstanding marks and an Honorable Mention. He was very fortunate to have received an exquisite artistic training with masters that were direct pupils of Stanislavsky, Vakhtangov, Meyerhold, Michael Chekhov, Labanov, María Knebel, Gorchakov, and Kedrov. At this time, he found his love for the theatre, and also studied a higher degree in filmmaking. Once he finished his degree, he became an Acting and Directing Professor for eighteen years.
Over the course of many years, Ángel Gutiérrez collaborated with some of the great passionate souls of his generation, such as Pyotr Fomenko, Dionisio García, and with one of cinema’s most legendary filmmakers, Andrei Tarkovsky — with whom he participated on the film “The Mirror.”
Later in life, Ángel Gutiérrez made the decision of giving everything he had learned in Russia to his Spanish nation, and in 1974, he returned to Spain “…to give my people everything that my masters had given me.” According to his own words, that was the most difficult decision he ever made.
With this passionate group of young Spanish actors, Ángel Gutiérrez created the “Studio Theatre” — that would later be known as “Teatro de Cámara Chekhov,” a theatre that turned into a great artistic temple and remains a unique reference on the Spanish Theatre landscape today. There, with his wife Ludila Ukulova, a great Russian actress, they offered the Spanish audiences theatre productions of a very fine quality, and trained actors for over thirty years.
Russian television has dedicated a documentary film to Ángel Gutiérrez’s life called, “His Name is Angel Gutierrez.” And in Spain, another documentary has been created dedicated to his life and work called “The Last Russian Master.”
Ángel Gutiérrez is currently working on gathering and publishing his memoirs.