Summary №4, 2011

On Stage

Protagonist. Andrei Moguchi: School for the Fools

In 2011 the Europe Theatre Prize ceremony took place in Saint Petersburg. Andrei Moguchi became the second Russian stage director to recieve the New Theatrical Reality award (the first one was Anatoly Vassiliev). Moguchi emerged from the huge wave of St. Petersburg avant-garde theatre of the 80s, whose other shipmen were all desperately washed away. The article is focused on his way through the ‘storm and stress’ and development of ‘formal theatre’ ideas.

Context. Underground or?

Dmitry Renansky first intended to interview Nikolay Pesochinsky about such curious companies as Derevo, the Formal theatre, AXE Engineering theatre, known together as Saint Petersburg underground of the 80s. But how relevant is the term ‘underground’ to theatrics? This question broadens the scale of their talk to magnificent diversity of informal cultural life that flourished in Leningrad of the 80s and St. Petersburg of the 90s.

Archive. Where the Dresses Rustle

One of the key figures of Saint Petersburg underground, refined publisher, translator and novelist Dmitry Volchek describes his stage impressions of 1980s. Through the portrait of obscure theatre director he presents vivid picture of the epoch.

The Scene Is Set. Swamp Houses: New Guide to Saint Petersburg Theatre Life

Judging by the pool of directors working on the Alexandrinsky stage or international activities of the Baltic House one gets a shiny picture of theatre life on the Neva. Saint Petersburg critic and editor-in-chief of the Drama Empire newspaper gives an inside view and analyzes recent changes on the main venues of the city.

Trend. Scumbags of Our Time

Impressed by the dilogy of power by Kirill Serebrennikov Theatre. spotlights the history of political theatre in Russia and reveals parallels between contemporary productions and Yury Lubimov works at Taganka theatre. Like 40 years ago, best tickets for trendy performances go to the people criticized on stage.

Picture Gallery. Waiting fo Dodo

Under the heading Protagonist there is a portrait of stage director Andrei Moguchi, so the Picture Gallery is dedicated to his long-term collaborator Alexander Shishkin. As a set designer he is also deeply rooted in Saint Petersburg underground of the 80s with its affection to shabby objects and playful elements. Always changing, ready for carnival and metamorphosis, Shishkin world is bright in all senses. In his sets Samuel Beckett’s vagabonds desperately waiting for Godot, could easily meet Lewis Carroll’s bird Dodo instead.


Legend. Magnetic Anomaly: Heiner Mueller in Russia

One of the most important German playwrights of the late XX century is widely acclaimed in Russia, but mostly by word of mouth. Neither his plays, nor the history of their stage interpretation or critical analysis, are seriously studied in universities. In order to give Russian context for his legacy, Theatre. publishes memoires of Heiner Meuller’s translator Vladimir Kolyazine.

Perspective. Urbanites and Villagers

What is theatre audience in today’s Saint Petersburg? In what way is it different from the legendary times of Lev Dodin’s ‘Brothers and Sisters’? What do the new spectators write on their blogs and why do they sometimes remind of Mikhail Zoschenko characters. Current situation is not unique, it has historical analogies.

Culture Hero. Lev Dodin: ‘We Are Afraid to Admit That King is Naked’

Lev Dodin is the artistic director of the world known Maly Drama Theatre, proudly titled the Theatre of Europe. For 20 years he has been the head of the department of stage directing in drama in Saint Petersburg State Theatre Art Academy. None of his students could be merely compared to the master. In 2007 he did not even put his signature on his students’ diplomas. Theatre. asked Lev Dodin whether sophisticated art of direction is worth teaching.

Brand New Names. Students on the Teacher: ‘Clear of Big Narratives’

The interview on teaching with Lev Dodin demands arguments from both sides. Three of his student — namely Dmitry Volkostrelov, known after his award-winning shows ‘July’ and ‘The Locked Door’, Semyon Alexandrovsky, who works in major regional theatres, and Elena Solomonova, who has preferred to stay near the master — share their educational experience at Dodin’s workshop.

Beyond the Stage

Theoscope. The Magic Theatre of Aleister Crowley

Most influential English occultist of the 20th century, the ‘victorian hippie’ Aleister Crowley tried to express his ideas through so called ritual drama. It never lead him directly on stage, but his ‘theatre of life’ left mark on diverse forms of contemporary ransgressive art.

Insight. Brief History of Theatre Censorship: From Ancient World to the Early 20th century

As a continuation of discussion on political theatre (see ‘Scumbags of Our Time’ by Alla Schenderova) we touch upon the problem of censorship. There is still no agreement on whether a free act of creativity should be somehow restricted. The article looks through the brightest pages of theatre censorship in Europe.

Hi-Tech. François Duplat: ‘We Even Filmed Zeffirelly — and Everyone Liked it’

French TV producer and director François Duplat radically reformed the relations between screen and stage. Why do some performances by Ariane Mnouchkine or Dmitry Chernyakov look better on DVD then alive, what does Balanchine have in common with music hall, and in what way contemporary dance reminds golden Hollywood? That is what we got to know from the founder of Bel Air Media group, the leader of stage filming and ‘theatre on DVD’ industry in Europe.

Yellow Pages

In ‘After Alexander Kugel: Quotes From Spectators’ Andrei Pronine provides sufficient proof of his sociological statements (see his article ‘Urbanites and Villagers’ under the heading Off Stage). ‘And, please, no experiments’ presents the results of recent research carried out by the department of economics of the State Institute of Art Studies. The most experienced group of Russian spectators are women between 18 and 25, as a factor of quality of performance they rely on star cast, and experimental art is their least preferred option.

Under the heading On Stage Dmitry Renansky and Nikolai Pesochinsky were looking for traces of Saint Petersburg underground of the 80s. Some of them lead abroad, like those of Anton Adasinsky or Evgeny Kozlov. Theatre. investigates migration of artists in other ‘convertible’ groups. In ‘Flying theatre of opera and ballet’ Yekaterina Biryukova and Anna Gordeeva comment on opera singers and ballet dancers.


Poems by Heiner Mueller

‘Coffeehouse’ play by Reiner Werner Fassbinder

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