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Theatre Europe in Moscow

To sit in a library and fly around the world at the same time, to hear confessions of dying men, to learn Shakespeare’s sonnet by heart right during a performance, to listen to a lecture on theatre history by a hedgehog and a panegyric by a pigeon, to make declarations of love to a random person sitting next to them – those are just some of the things that admirers of topical theatre got to do this fall within its almost limitlessly expanded boundaries. Our review includes the most spectacular events of fall festivals Territoria and NET.

Time machine
Film “VMayakovsky”. Director Alexander Shane. Territoria

Alexander Shane’s film that he worked on for six years is dedicated to the tragic figure of Mayakovsky, political and poetic revolution, the collapse of all hope. But it is only one layer of the film, where the fictional fabric and documentary footage (for instance of Mayakovsky’s only daughter) are spliced together in edit.

The other – and perhaps a more important one – is the actor’s transformation, settling into the part, taking on someone else’s fate, which begins to influence the actor himself, seemingly transforming him on a cellular level. Here the actors are coming together for the first rehearsal, the read-through: cigarettes in their mouths, water on the table, and sheets of paper in their hands with as yet unfamiliar text: “direct your lines forward, not inward”, “alright, let me read Trotsky’s part for now”… Here they’re putting on makeup, staring at their changing reflection in the mirror, as if they are peering through the layers of time and seeing their protagonist (Yuri Kolokolnikov’s transformation into Mayakovsky is something surreal). And then “the art ends”, and white snow disappears in the black hole of night, and the jealous Lilya Brik (Chulpan Khamatova in her youth, Lyudmila Maksakova in her old age), forgets all of her female resentments and begins to pommel Mayakovsky for not staying in Paris, for not marrying “that other one”, for not saving himself, saying her farewell to the living as though he were already dead. And executioner Agranov (Yevgeny Mironov) shifts from foot to foot in the darkness.

This unique film will return to general public in February of next year as part of the “Mayakovsky’s Atlas” art project at the Tretyakov Gallery, which brings together cinema, theatre, art theatre, art objects, and multimedia.

The final journey
“Nachlass. -Pièces sans personnes.” A project by Stefan Kaegi and Dominic Huber. Théâtre de Vidy, Lausanne and Rimini Protokoll. Territoria

The setting is a small hallway with eight rooms. On the ceiling there’s a map of the world, where little lights flicker and go out, signifying someone’s death. Every door is a portal into the final act of someone’s life that each of these people chose to talk about with the authors of this project. Personal items essential for telling the story, artifacts, videos and voices of people, some of whom are already dead. A carrier of a terminal genetic disease and father of a little girl, who was lucky enough to escape her father’s fate and who wouldn’t have been born had he found out about his illness prior to her birth. A citizen of Switzerland, ethnic Turk, who rehearses his final journey to his native country (funerals are free in Turkey). A secretary, who dreamed of being on stage her whole life, but whose life worked out very differently from what she wanted, and who finally makes a conscious choice when it comes to her death. A conscientious jumper, who made provisions for his family in the event a jump goes awry, while he navigates between ultimate risk and complete sensibility. A European missionary, who spent most of her life in Africa, fell in love with its artists and didn’t have time to fully establish an assistance fund for them. Bankers, husband and wife, who are prepared to leave a hefty sum to their grandchildren to study in Germany, but… the grandchildren live in Brazil and abandoned their study of the German language with complete acquiescence of their parents, who themselves wouldn’t mind forgetting the language of the Nazis that those same bankers were once as well. A neurobiologist who began working on the issue of aging: the deterioration of the brain and the dying of feelings…

You move from one little room to the next, look through African ornaments and photos with documents, examine the jumper’s costume, eat Turkish delight, and listen to the stories where people plan out their final journey, create it like the finale of a novel, and through that creative work they discover ultimate freedom and themselves.

Read more in our new issue №41

Publication date

22 December 2017

Other materials from theatre and art

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