A Cross-Sectional View of an Era

For over ten years now a quiet revolution has been taking over the theatre world. New trends are emerging and growing, calling into question the very tenets of traditional theatre. New countries and entire continents are joining in this process. All of this has changed the conventional notions of theatre art to such an extent that it requires a careful analysis. We asked several leading stage figures - actors, directors, organizers - to take stock of some, be it interim, results. In this issue, the review's questions are answered by theatre historian Alexei Bartoshevich.


-- Please name three important theatre events that occurred last year. What, in your view, do they have in common?

А) Karbauskis coming to the Mayakovsky Theatre;

B) The work of young directors in academic theatres (RAMT - Russian Academic Youth Theatre, "Sovremennik");

C) Lev Dodin's "The Three Sisters".

These three very different events prove that proclamations, which set the big traditional theatres against the young theatre generation of directors and actors, are baseless.


-- When you think about the past decade, which individuals and events do you see as being the most spectacular and important? How did they influence theatre life?

For me, the most vitally important event of the last decade was the creation of Sergei Zhenovach's theatre. As far as what his influence is on the overall process, it is still probably too early to say.


-- What tendencies can you highlight in the development of contemporary theatre from the early 2000s to the present day? Are they long-term tendencies, or can they be viewed as transient, as a temporary phenomenon?

The continued breakdown of the system of repertory theatre. There are many reasons to consider this breakdown a logical step, but this is the logic of a profoundly negative feature (not all things inevitable are to be rejoiced over). We are rapidly losing that which made up the uniqueness of the Russian theatre culture, that which always made us interesting to world theatre. It is sad that this breakdown engenders such enthusiasm among my colleagues. If we want to look for guidelines and examples among the diverse movements of world theatre, why not direct our eyes to Germany, which has maintained the sensibly updated forms of repertory theatre, instead of being guided by the commercial system of American stage.


-- How did the world's theatre map change over the last ten years? In your opinion, what were the reasons for those changes?

The formation of theatre's universality, the intrusion of the theatre of the Orient onto European stages, the Orientalization of artistic consciousness of European directors – these are all processes that arose from the globalization of world culture. Movement toward this globalization can bring consequences that are not always positive. But the movement itself, as demonstrated by the experience of the past few decades, is both irrevocable and inevitable.


-- What do you expect from the near future? What new things will emerge in contemporary theatre? What will be topical, and what will become a thing of the past?

I do not feel comfortable playing a fortune-teller. The way I see it, the present-day chaotic mix of theatre schools, styles and directions makes any and all attempts at predictions and prophecies impossible, if not ridiculous.



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