Okhlopkov was born in Irkutsk, Siberia and started his acting career there in 1918. Since 1930, he directed the Realistic Theatre in Moscow, although his directing style was hardly realistic: he was the first to place spectators on the stage around the actors, in order to restore intimacy between the audience and the company. In 1938, his theatre was closed and he moved to the Vakhtangov Theatre. In 1943 he established the Mayakovsky Theatre, which continues his traditions to this day. Okhlopkov was awarded the Stalin Prize and four USSR State Prizes. He also directed a production of Hamlet at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1954, the first time this play was staged there since World War II.
- Smeliansky, Anatoly (1999). The Russian theatre after Stalin (PDF). Cambridge University Press. pp. 5–6. Retrieved 8 February 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Patrick Miles, translator.
- James Harbeck (Spring 1996). "Okhlopkov and the Nascence of the Postmodern" (PDF). Theatre InSight.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>