MOSCOW – Pyotr Fomenko, a renowned Russian stage director who founded one of Moscow’s leading theaters, has died. He was 80.

Fomenko, who staged more than 60 plays in Russian and foreign theaters during his career, died Thursday in Moscow, his theater said. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

Fomenko began his career as an actor in 1958. He became a director in the 1960s. Some of his productions were banned by Soviet authorities for being politically provocative. In 1993, Fomenko founded his own theater, building a troupe from students at Moscow’s theater academy, where he also worked as a teacher. The Pyotr Fomenko Workshop Theater quickly became popular, thanks to his innovative approach to works by Shakespeare, Chekhov and other classics.

Even with his achievements, Fomenko said that he saw failure as a challenge and valued it more than success. “A failure is sometimes more useful and more important both as a survival test and a source of feeling for drama,” he said in a recent documentary.