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Hi, my name is Misha; I've been living in Moscow since 2007


Hi, my name is Misha; I've been living in Moscow since 2007

I'm a director and actor at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre.

On a neighbourhood that won't let me go

I'm currently renting an apartment at the intersection of Sadovaya-Triumfalnaya and Malaya Dmitrovka. It's a very cool location. I found this place through sheer chance and at a more than reasonable rent. I guess I just wanted to live here so badly.

I love central Moscow, although not all of it. I tried living at Frunzenskaya; it's generally considered a very good neighbourhood. However, something just wasn't sitting right with me, and I was forever being drawn back to Belorusskaya. I mean, this place and I have history. I studied at the Moscow Academic Art Theatre studio and my dorm was close to 3rd Tverskaya-Yamskaya, at the end nearest to the Belorusskaya metro station, meaning I immediately got a taste for all the good and the bad that central Moscow has to offer.


On the wide windowsills

I have a lot of memories linked with Kamergersky Pereulok. I remember looking out our auditorium windows at it: there were always people chilling, throngs of tourists; someone would always be singing or someone would be having lunch.

I mean, it was where it was all happening. But we were missing out on it all. During break time, we would sit on the wide windowsills, looking at the passers by, and coming up with back stories for them, saying out loud what we figured they were thinking, creating characters for them.

On Little Europe

In the summer, Kamergersky has a special vibe about it. You get a sense of being in a western-European capital. The rhythm, lighting, and culture of the outdoor cafés were only recently a rarity in Moscow.

You could find something similar on Arbat, but that street is too touristy; it never really feels cosy and compact. At Kamergersky, it always felt great to drop by some café with an outdoor veranda and have some tea. And you'd sit there for a couple of hours, sipping tea, because normally you wouldn't have that much money on you. You'd just sit there, watching the passers by, and it always felt great to feel like you were part of all that. Kamergersky was for me a little piece of Europe in the heart of Moscow.

I recently noticed I have a strong dependency on Moscow

On when you become a Muscovite

Many believe that you become a Muscovite when you get your Moscow registration stamp. My feeling on this is a little different. For me, it's when people start asking you for directions on the street or when you see that somebody's lost and you go up to them and tell them the shortest way to where they're trying to get. That's when you become a Muscovite. Being a local resident in a city is about knowing the city and sort of feeling your place in it.


On tough cities

At first, my parents didn't approve of my choice of occupation. I was born in Perm, a really tough city, into a relatively conservative family. My dad is a doctor and my mum is an economist, but she's also been fond of the arts: when I was a kid, we could spend hours at art galleries, looking at paintings and discussing the intricacies of beauty.

And yet my first degree was in economics. I did make a couple of attempts to get a job in business and I spent some time living in Germany, but I came to realize that I was just doing myself in. And another thing I realized then was that I was never going back to Perm: over time, I just grew too apart from that city; I no longer felt myself there. So, when I decided to enroll at the Moscow Art Theatre studio, I knew full well what I was doing, why I was doing it and why it was important for me. It took some time for my parents to come to terms with my choice. In my first and second year at the studio, I would call my mum and she liked to say, "You could already be working in a bank and you could already be set up for life. And now you're going to spend the rest of your life playing a carrot." During one of our phone conversations I told her I was working on a short performance titled the Grater and the Carrot.

On how difficult it can be to get excited about things

My main place of employment is the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre and I can't say I have just one specific job there. I direct, I act, I sometimes write things; I guess I'm a bit of a jack of all trades there. Naturally, I have some side gigs too.

My work is all about constant communication with people. I believe it makes me a better person. For me, my job is my life, so I'd be hard pressed to say what I do in my spare time. For example, I read books and plays, but that's part of my job too. Or I listen to music, watch movies, take strolls around the city; even sport could be said to be related to acting as actors need to be in good physical shape. And without sport and fitness, you can't really survive in Moscow.

I'm currently trying to come up with a hobby for myself. As a kid I collected stamps and inserts, a really decent pastime. These days I collect stuff that I feel too emotionally attached to throw out. I wonder if this could be classed as a hobby? I also buy lots of books because I don't like reading off the screen. I guess this too counts as a kind of hobby.

Recently, I noticed I have a strong dependency on Moscow. I'm talking about the pace of life that you get into and then it feels wrong to slow down. I feel bad when I'm not doing something useful. Sometimes I'm just too embarrassed to take a break and go on holiday.

Or here's another observation: you leave Moscow and head for some quiet place and you instantly enter your lazy mode. You just lie around, sleep a lot and don't want to do anything. But you do need to leave town from time to time, at least for three to four days at a time. The lazy mode can catch up with you in Moscow too if you give it a chance. You need to change the scenery from time to time; otherwise you begin to stagnate.


On things that make you happy and that annoy you

The biggest drawback in central Moscow is the noise pollution, even at night, because you're right on the Garden Ring.

I have my favorite stomping grounds in Moscow. I love the Hermitage Garden, especially in the summer: you get a deck chair, a book and some refreshing lemonade and just cut yourself off from everything for a couple of hours. I also like Museon Park. I love Moscow for its pace of life, diversity, and beauty. I lived in Saint Petersburg for some time but I quickly got bored of it. This can never happen in Moscow.


On night breakfasts

Moscow is a more comfortable city than many of its European counterparts. Here you can get what you want 24/7. Say you have insomnia: you go out and you know that wherever you go, it's probably going to be open, whether it's a store, a café or a bar.

You can have breakfast in the middle of the night or go visit some friends on the other side of the city: we've got the most affordable taxis among the world capitals I've been to. I stayed in Berlin for a bit and I really felt this contrast: all the stores close at about 8 pm and you'd be really hard pressed to find a 24/7 bar. It's a very bad feeling when the city just shuts down after 10 pm. It's impossible to imagine this sort of situation in Moscow.

Moscow is a city that makes you feel alive. Another important point for me is the aesthetics: and in this sense living downtown is the best option for me. I often work in cafés. I have some places that I go to all the time.


The special Muscovites project is dedicated to the heroes of our city: ordinary people with their own views on Moscow. You can meet them in a café, on the street, at the theatre or the supermarket. Perhaps, you sat across from their table, stood in the same queue or were on the same bus late to work just yesterday. Muscovites, let's get acquainted.

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