In April 2021, People’s Artist of Turkmenistan Vladimir Alexandrovich Bershansky would have turned 85 years old. An outstanding actor, a master of his craft, he devoted his entire life to the service of theatrical art and, until the end of his days, worked in the Ashgabat Theater named after Alexander Pushkin. But this is only part of the story, a grain of the rich biography of a man who by some quirk of fate, found himself on the theater stage.
Vladimir Alexandrovich began his path to the acting profession from afar. He was born in the Russian city of Prokopyevsk, and together with his father worked in a mine, where he was an electric welder of the 4th category. Until he stopped by the drama club for a rehearsal. The play of actors so fascinated the young man that visiting theater runs became a daily activity for him. And once at a rehearsal, he was asked to replace a sick artist.
To the director’s surprise, Vladimir coped with the role none worse, or even better than the professional. Soon he was employed in the Prokopiev Drama Theater, from that memorable moment the wheel of fate for Bershansky-actor spun with a new force. He toured a lot, served in the Tbilisi and Tyumen theaters. It was in Tyumen that the actor met his future wife and the married couple went to Ashgabat.
“My grandfather arrived in Turkmenistan in the 60-ies, – says the granddaughter of Vladimir Bershansky, actress Darya Selyuminova. – He worked very hard and not only in the theater, constantly acted in films, broadcasted TV and radio. As an announcer, he conducted parades. But with all this – the theater has always been in the first place for him. My grandfather used to say that just like that, you should not go into acting without desire, because only one talent can be revealed among a hundred applicants. My uncle and mother tried to continue the acting dynasty in our family, but all their attempts remained only at the level of passion for theater art.”
Little Dasha was a regular guest of the theater backstage. She loved to watch the work of her famous grandfather on the stage, read all the plays that were part of his repertoire, and knew many of the roles of Vladimir Alexandrovich by heart. After graduation, the girl did not think long about her future profession. She went straightway to the theater studio that opened at the drama theater, where her beloved grandfather worked.
“He only found out about my enrollment when he returned from his summer vacation, – Darya recalls. – He dissuaded me from such a choice, because the desired roles do not go to everyone and not always. And then probably he saw some abilities of mine, began to help with advices and not only. We even managed to work with him on the same stage in several performances. From my grandfather, I adopted a reverent attitude to the temple of art – a theater. For him, as well as for me now, the stage is sacred, he never allowed to insult the theater and everything connected with it.
Today, Darya Selyuminova is an actress of the Russian Drama Theater named after Alexander Pushkin, she is the only successor of the Bershansky acting dynasty. In a large creative family, theater programs of performances in which my grandfather played, his photos and awards are carefully stored.
In the actor’s house, famous guests constantly gathered: Leonid Filatov, Vitaly Solomin, Ovez Gelenov and many others. Vladimir Bershansky was a bosom friend of the artist Durdy Bairamov, who repeatedly painted his portraits.
Known not only in Turkmenistan, but also in neighboring countries, the actor often attended high-profile theater premieres in Moscow. Granddaughter Dasha was his constant companion and after each cultural trip, the aspiring actress learned many useful lessons.
“My grandfather said that for an actor, you must read, at least 10 pages a day, improve your level of knowledge and watch performances. Watch even those works that you do not like, so that you can distinguish bad art from good. I don’t know how many percent of his talent was genetically inherited to me, but I can say that I was always very proud of my grandfather. He remained an artist until the last days of his life, that is why his name is known and remembered today,” says Darya.