MOSCOW — Anatoly Efros, director at the avant-garde Taganka Theater in Moscow, died Tuesday, the official news agency Tass reported.
Efros was 61 and had fallen from favor in the 1960s but became head of Moscow's famed Taganka Theater after Yuri Lyubimov failed to return from the West in 1983.
Tass said Efros died of a heart attack. It praised him as a "prominent Soviet cultural figure" who had mounted productions of plays by authors ranging from Nikolai Gogol and Moliere to Tennessee Williams.
In 1967, Efros was fired from his job as chief artistic director of the Lenin Komsomol Theater and criticized for "chasing after fashion" and producing a play with a hero consumed by "inertia and fear."
He was transferred from the Komsomol to a minor Moscow theater and later surfaced at the Malaya Bronnaya Theater, where he was praised for "the knack of having a dialogue with audiences on the acutest problems of our time."
In 1978, he went to Minneapolis to produce one of Gogol's plays, "The Marriage," at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater. He also worked with a Japanese theater company.
Efros became the Taganka's chief director after Lyubimov, a pioneering stage figure, refused to return to the Soviet Union after he had left to produce his stage version of Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment."
Although many of Efros' productions were praised by critics, ticket sales at the Taganka slowed after Lyubimov's defection. Lyubimov is currently at work at the Arena Stage in Washington.
Efros wrote three books on the theater.