Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 78

volume 30, no.

2
Spring 2010
SEEP (ISSN # 104 7 -0019) is a publication of the Institute for Contemporary
East European Drama and Theatre under the auspices of the Martin E.
Segal Theatre Center. The Institute is at The City University of New York
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309. All
subscription requests and submissions should be addressed to Slavic and East
European Performance: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The City University of
New York Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309.
EDITOR
Daniel Gerould
MANAGING EDITOR
Christopher Silsby
EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS
Stefanie Jones Donatella Galella
CIRCULATION MANAGER
Tori Amoscato
ADVISORY BOARD
Edwin Wilson, Chair
Marvin Carlson Allen J. Kuharski Martha W. Coigney Stuart Liebman
Leo Hecht Laurence Senelick Dasha Krijanskaia Anna Shulgat
SEEP has a liberal reprinting policy. Publications that desire to reproduce
materials that have appeared in SEEP may do so with the following provisions:
a.) permission to reprint the article must be requested from SEEP in writing
before the fact; b.) credit to SEEP must be given in the reprint; c.) two copies
of the publication in which the reprinted material has appeared must be furnished
to SEEP immediately upon publication.
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER
DIRECTOR OF PUBLICATIONS
Daniel Gerould
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Frank Hentschker
DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION
Jan Stenzel
Slavic and East European Performance is supported by a generous grant from the Lucille
Lortel Chair of the Ph.D. Program in Theatre at The City University of New York.
Copyright 2010. Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
Editorial Policy
From the Editor
Events
Books Received
ARTICLES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
"Ham/etas, Oscar Kodunovas's Staging of Shakespeare's Hamlet:
Angst in Elsinore"
Roger Ellis
''A Belarusian Director in St. Petersburg:
An Interview with Kseniya Mitrofanova, March 2010"
Evelina Mendelevich
''Andrei $erban and the Traveling Academy:
About Creativity and the Inner Self"
Corina $uteu
''A Stanislavsky-Inspired Actor Training Workshop:
An Interview with Dmitry Troyanovsky and Ben Sargent''
Oleg Ivanov
REVIEW
"The Zagreb Youth Theatre's Carage,
Directed by Ivica Buljan, at La MaMa, New York"
Margaret K. Araneo
Contributors
4
5
6
15
17
29
41
51
61
66
EDITORIAL POLICY
Manuscripts in the following categories are solicited: articles of no
more than 2,500 words, performance and ftlm reviews, and bibliographies.
Please bear in mind that all submissions must concern themselves wjth
contemporary materials on Slavic and East European theatre, drama, and ftlm;
with new approaches to older materials in recently published works; or with
new performances of older plays. In other words, we welcome submissions
reviewing innovative performances of Gogol, but we cannot use original
articles discussing Gogol as a playwright.
Although we welcome translations of articles and reviews from
foreign publications, we do require copyright release statements. We will also
gladly publish announcements of special events and anything else that may be
of interest to our discipline. All submissions are refereed.
All submissions must be typed double-spaced and carefully proofread.
The Chicago Manual of Style should be followed. Transliterations should follow
the Library of Congress system. Articles should be submitted on computer
disk, as Word Documents for Windows, and a hard copy of the article should
be included. Photographs are recommended for all reviews. All articles should
be sent to the attention of Slavic and East European Performance, c/o Martin E.
Segal Theatre Center, The City University of New York Graduate Center, 365
5th Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309. Submissions will be evaluated, and
authors will be notified after approximately four weeks.
You may obtain more information about Slavic and East European
Performance by visiting our website at http/ /web.gc.cuny.edu/mestc. E-mail
inquiries may be addressed to SEEP@gc.cuny.edu.
4
All Journals are available from ProQuest Information and Learning as
abstracts online via ProQuest information service and the
International Index to the Performing Arts.
All Journals are indexed in the MLA International Bibliography and are
members of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.
Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 30, No. 2
FROM THE EDITOR
The focus is on the director in Volume 30, no. 2 of SEEP. All the
articles in the spring issue of 2010 converge on directing and the crucial role of
the director in twenty-first century Slavic and Eastern European performance.
Roger Ellis looks at the career of the Lithuanian director Oscar Koriiunovas,
focusing on a single production, Hamlet, that reveals his characteristic
techniques and methods that have made him one of the leading theatre artists
of his age. Next, in the form of an interview, Evelina Mendelevich examines
the rise to prominence of Kseniya Mitrofanova, an emerging director from
Belarus, who is now a creative force in the St. Petersburg theatre world. Then
Corina $uteu traces the history of Andrei $erban's Traveling Academy, an
actor-training project involving young performers, which she initiated with
the great Romanian director. Finally, again in the form of an interview, Oleg
Ivanov discusses with two young directors, Dmitry Troyanovsky and Ben
Sargent, their work in actor training with the New GeneRussian Workshop,
based on the techniques of the Moscow Art Theatre. In a concluding review
of the Zagreb Youth Theatre performing in English in New York, Margaret
Araneo looks at the work of the Croatian director lvica Buljan.
5
STAGE PRODUCTIONS
New York City:
EVENTS
The Bohemian National Hall and the Bohemian Benevolent and
Literary Association presented Ptljte se me naco chcete,jci naco chci odpovim, a one-
man show by Miroslav Donutil at the Bohemian National Hall on March 4.
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre presented Revolution!?,
written and directed by Pavel Dobrusky and Vit Horejs at the Theater for the
New City from March 4 to March 21.
Untitled Theatre Company #61 premiered Rudolf II, directed by
Henry Akona at the Bohemian National Hall from March 5 to 28.
Theater for the New City presented Wonder Bread, written by Danusia
Trevino (Poland) and directed by Aleksey Burago at the Theater for the New
City from March 11 to 28.
The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards performed
Electric Parry Songs, at the Bowery Poetry Club on March 31.
The Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg presented Lev Dodin's
production of Chekhov's Uncle Vturya, at the BAM Harvey Lichtenstein Theater
onApril11.
The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards presented
I Am America, at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery on April14.
The Lark Theatre Company performed Don't Cry, We'll All Meet on the
Other Side, by Andreea va.lean (Romania) and directed by John Clinton Eisner,
as part of New York City's Immigrant Heritage Week 2010 at the LARK Studio
from April15 to 16.
6 .Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 30, No. 2
The Yara Arts Group performed Srythian Stones, based on Ukrainian
and Kyrgyz epics and directed by Virlana Tkacz and Watoku Ueno at La MaMa
from April 16 to May 2.
As part on an ongoing series of staged reading at the Carturesti Book
Exhibition titled Reading the Tea Leaves, the Romanian Cultural Institute of
New York hosted the following performances:
When I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, by Andreea vaJean, directed by Ana
Margineanu, on April 19.
Elevator by Gabriel Pintilei, directed by Grant Neale, on May 24.
Connection Failed, by the performance collective realtympanica
(Ioana Paun, Renata Gaspar, and Robert Redmcr), directed by Ana
Margineanu, on June 28.
Classic Stage Company produced Ostrovsky's The Forest, directed by
Brian Kulick and starring Dianne Wiest and John Douglas Thompson, from
April 24 to May 30.
New York-based Czech choreographer Dusan Tynek's Dance
Theatre premiered Mtddlegame, with Czech Romani music; Base Pairs, with text
by Cynthia Polutanovich; and Transparent Walls, set to the music of Serbian
composer Aleksandra Vrebalov; at the Dance Theatre Workshop from June 2
to 6.
STAGE PRODUCTIONS
U.S. Regional:
The Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg performed Anton
Chekhov's Uncle Vturya at Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill, North Carolina on
March 31.
7
The University of North Texas presented the Czech opera Prodanti
nevlsta (The Bartered Bride), by Bediich Smetana at the Gethsemane Luthern
Church, Austin, Texas on March 28.
The Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the University of
Texas at Austin performed The Understucfy: Gmrman's Unfortunate Premier of The
Pi'!)' 'Vi'asta', in UT's Calhoun building, Austin, Texas from April 30 to May 2.
The Wilma Theatre (Philadelphia) premiered Vaclav Havel's Leaving,
directed by Jiri Ziika from May 19 to June 20.
As part of the International Voices Project, the Trap Door Theatre
produced Romanian playwright Matei Viniec's What Shall We Do with the Cello?,
directed by Max Truax at the Alliance Fran<;aise in Chicago on May 27.
STAGE PRODUCTIONS
International:
The Grotowski Institute presented Talk with Alina Obidniak. Alina Obidniak
is the author of Pola energii. Wspomnienia i rozmoiJ!Y. (Fields of Energy. Memoirs
and Conversations.) The talk was held at the Refectory at Zaklad Narodowy im.
Ossoliriskich in Wroclaw, Poland, on March 11 (See BOOKS RECEIVED).
The Grotowski Institute presented C4.RAVAN Laboratory, a work session led
by Rena Mirecka at Laboratory Theatre Room, Wrodaw, Poland, from April
21 to 25.
Massachusettes-based theatre troupe Double Edge Theatre performed their
diptych Republic of Dreams and The Disappearance at the Srudio Na Grobli,
Wrodaw, Poland, from May 13 to 16. Directed by Stacy Klein, Republic of
Dreams is based on the life and writings of Polish and Jewish artist Bruno
Schulz (See SEEP Vol. 30, no. 1, Winter 2010). The Disappearance concerns
issues of anti-Semitism and includes a life-sized puppet, play-within-a-play
version of The Merchant of Venice.
8 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
FILM
New York City:
The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Polish Cultural Institute
in New York, in association with the Polish National Film Archive, presented
the series Storm Warnings: Resistance and Reflection in Polish Cinema 1977-1989 at
the Walter Reade Theatre from February 3 to 11. Films screened included:
K.rzysztof Zanussi's Camouflage (1977).
Andrzej Wajda's Rough Treatment (1978).
Feliks Falk's Top Dog (1978).
Krzysztof Kieslowski's Camera Brif/(1979).
Stanislaw Bareja's Tedtjy Bear (1980).
Marcel Lozinski's H01vAre We to Live? (1977 /1981).
Agnieszka Holland's A Woman Alone (1981/1987).
Ryszard Bugajski's Interrogation (1982/ 1989).
The Film Society of Lincoln Center presented the series New Films
from Hungary from February 12 to 18. The series included:
K.risztina Goda's Chameleon (2008).
Kornel Mundrucz6's Delta (2008).
Gyula Maar's Fragment (2007).
Peter Forgacs's Hunlg Blues (2009).
Attila Gigor's The investigator (2008).
9
Csaba Boll6k's lska's Journry (2007).
Ar.on Matyassy's Lost Times (2008).
Bela Tarr's The Man .from London (2007).
Benedek Fliegauf's The Milk;y (2007).
Ferenc Torok's Pile Up (2009).
Tamas Almasi's Puskds Hungary (2009).
Gyorgy Szomjas's Sun Street Bf!Js (2007).
The Czech Center New York screened Shut Up and Shoot Me (Sklapni a
zastfel me'), directed and written by Steen Agro at the Czech Center New York
on February 16.
The Czech Center New York screened Little Girl Blue (Tajnosti),
directed by Alice Nellis at the Czech Center ew York on February 24.
Russian Authors at the Brooklyn Public Library presented Konets
prekrasnqj epokhi, by Elena Dovlatova and Natasha Sharymova and curated by
Alia Makeeva at the Central Library on March 2.
Czech Center New York screened Home (Domov), by Margareta Hruza
at the Czech Center I ew York on March 3.
The New York International Children's Film Festival presented In the
Attic, by Jiri Barta (Czech Republic, 2009) at Symphony Space on March 9, at
IFC Center on March 19, and at the Czech Center New York on March 27.
The Brooklyn Public Library presented the 1957 Soviet fl.lm, The
Cranes Are F!Jing, directed by Mikhail Kalatozov, at the Central Library on
March 16.
10 Slavic and East E11ropean Performance VoL 30, No. 2
The Brooklyn Public Library presented Boris Dvorkin's Epitaph,
a film about Shostakovich, and Nyamaa, a @m about the composer Nikolai
Myaskovsky, at the Central Library on March 16.
The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards screened
Conversations with Anne at the SITI Company on March 29.
Czech Center New York presented Marriage Stories: Twenty Years Later,
Marcela, directed by Helena Trestikova at the Czech Center New York on
March 30.
The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards presented
Downstairs Action and Film Fragments at John Jay College, CUNY on April 1.
The Hungarian Cultural Center screened The Fzdeszjew, the Mother
with No Sense of Nation and Mediation, directed by Eszter Hadju (2008) at the
Hungarian Cultural Center on April 6.
The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards screened
Action in Aya Irini, and fragments of The Twin and Dies !rae: The Preposterous
Theatrum lnterioris Show at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU on April 8.
FILM
U.S. Regional:
University of Texas's Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian
Studies presented a series of comedies and dramas from February 23 to March
30. The f.tlm series included:
Beshkempir, The Adopted Son, by Aktan Abdykalykov (Kyrgyzstan, 1998).
Luna Papa, by Bakhtiar K.hudojnazarov (Tajikistan, 1999).
Tulpan, by Sergei Dvortsevoy (Kazakhstan, 2008).
11
Carolina Performing Arts screened Andrzej Wajda's Ka!Jn (2007), at
the Languages Building, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina on April
20.
The Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the University of
Texas at Austin presented The Fall of Berlin, by Mikhail Chiaureli on April 14
and Look at Me, by Marija Perovic on April16.
FILM
International:
The Polish Cultural Institute (UK) presented The Kinoteka Polish Film
Festival from March 4 to April 13. Screenings were held at Riverside Studios,
The Barbican, BFI Southbank, The Prince Charles Cinema, Empire Cinema
and many more locations. Highlights from the festival toured Belfast, Exeter,
Sheffield and Bath. Films screened included:
Borys Lankosz's Reverse (2009).
Waldemar Krzystek's Little Moscow (2008).
Izabela Plucinska's Esterhazy (2009).
Jolanta Dylewska's Po-Lin (2008).
Jacek Boruch's A/I That I Love (2010).
Michal Rosa's Scratch (2009).
Feliks Falk's Case Unknown (2009).
Xawery Zulawski's Snow White, Russian Red (2009).
Katarzyna Roslaniec's Mall Girls (2009).
12 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 30, No. 2
Bartek Konopka's Rabbit a Ia Berlin (2009).
Roman Polanski's Wanted and Desired (2008); Knife In The Water (1962);
Rosemary's Bal?J (1968); Cul-De-Sac (1966); and Dance of Vampires
(1967).
CONFERENCES, ETC.
The Yara Arts Group presented "Yara 20 Years of Theatre: A
Festival of Art, Poetry, Song and Music." The event included the opening
of an art exhibit inspired by Yara's theatrical productions, a workshop, and
performances by numerous artists including Christina Lillian Turczyn, Vasyl
Makhno, Jeanie Bogart, Krystia Lucenko, Candece Tarpley, Olena Jennings,
Wanda Phipps, Askold Melnyczuk, Odarka Polanskyj-Stockert, Redentor
Jimenez, Julian Kytasty,Yorie Akiba, Cecilia Arana, Sean Eden, John Guth,
Allison Hiroto, Akiko Hiroshima, Jullian Kytasty, Tom Lee, Eleanor Lipat-
Chesler, Stefka Nazarkewycz, Francois Nnang, Lilia Pavlovsky, Wanda Phipps,
Katy Selverstone, Olga Shuhan, Georgia Southern, Shigeko Suga, Shona
Tucker, Meredith Wright, Inka Juslin, Katja Kolcio, Nicole Stanton, Deanna
Klapishchak, Aaron Profumo and many more. The festival was held at the
Ukrainian Institute of America from January 22 to 24.
The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards presented
a series of workshops with Thomas Richards, Mario Biagini, and the actors of
the Open Program. The workshops were held at NYU's Tisch School of the
Arts, the Baryshnikov Arts Center, and the SITI company, from March 26 to
April4.
The University of Manchester (UK) and The Leverhulme Trust,
in collaboration with The National Theatre of Kosovo, will present the "In
Place of War Research and Practice Network" for an international conference
in Pristina, Kosovo from June 24 to 28. The "In Place of War: Theatre,
Performance and War Research and Practice Network" is a collaborative
initiative for academic and practice-based research into the role, function and
impact of theatre and performance in places of armed conflict. The theme of
13
the June event is the relationship between theatre, the nation and nationalism in
a conflict/post-conflict situation. Network members from Sri Lanka, Sudan,
DR Congo, Palestine, Belfast, Kosovo, UK and Australia will come to Pristina
for a meeting to discuss ideas around theatre in warzones and sites of conflict.
An open conference event will be held on June 26.
The Grotowski Institute (\X'rodaw, Poland) will hold Borfy as Space, a
work session led by Matej Matejka from June 8 to 11.
Compiled by Stefanie Jones
14
Slavic and EaJt European Performance Vol. 30, No. 2
BOOKS RECEIVED
Farber, Vreneli. Stanislavs9 in Practice: Actor Training in Post-Soviet Russia. Artists
and Issues in the Theatre, vol. 16. 235 pages. N.Y.: Peter Lang, 2008. Includes
Appendices, Bibliography, and an Index.
Gordon, Mel. in America. An Actor's WOrkbook. London: Routledge,
2010. 194 pages. Includes an Appendix, Selected Bibliography, and an Index.
Kantor, Tadeusz. Od Malego d1vorku do Umarlq klasy. From The Country House
to The Dead Class. Cracow-Wrodaw: Muzeum Narodowe we Wrodawiu and
Cricoteka, Cracow, 2010. 268 pages. To accompany the exibition at the National
Museum in Wrodaw, 26 April-12 June 2010. Curators: Mariusz Hermansdorfer
and J6zef Chrobak. Contains articles by Mariusz Hermansdorfer, Krzysztof
Plesniarowicz, and Jan Klossowicz, and the Collection from the National
Museum in Wrodaw and Photographs 1956-1975, Biografia Tadeusza Kantora,
edited by J6zef Chrobak, and in English, Tadeusz Kantor-Biography, edited
by J6zef Chrobak and translated by Anda MacBride. Hundreds of pictures in
color and in black and white.
Obidniak, Alina. Pola energii: Wspomnienia i rozm01ry. Wrodaw: The Grotowski
Institute, 2010. 276 pages. Contains memoirs, interviews, and reminiscences by
friends and fellow artists. Introduction by Janusz Degler. Includes biographical
notes, literature cited, selected bibliography, editorial note, list of illustration,
over 50 black-and-white photographs. Supplement of 78 letters from
Grotowski to Obidniak from 1956 to 1995, edited by Janusz Degler. Index of
names.
15
Hamlet (Darius Meskauskas) and Gertrude (Nele Savicenko) in Gertrude's chamber,
Ham/etas, directed by Oskaras Korsunovas
""
<;;
<
c:5'
""'


"'



.,
:.'l

til
1:;
J1
"1::::1


tl
'<)
HAMLETAS, OSKARAS KORSUNOVAS' S STAGING OF
SHAKESPEARE'S HAMLET: ANGST IN ELSINORE
Roger Ellis
"Art thou honest?" Hamlet demands of Ophelia. That fundamental
question is at the heart of Oskaras Kodunovas's production of Ham/etas that
has been touring internationally since 2009. The show presents an offbeat,
tortured, and insistent Hamlet as the "director of the court characters," insisting
on "honesty" from all of them (much as Shakespeare's original hero does in
his famous "players' speech" before the mousetrap scene). Elsinore, too, takes
its shape from this concept. The setting becomes a backstage dressing room
where Kodunovas's ten-person ensemble applies make-up, changes costumes,
and rehearses or enacts scenes for Hamlet's benefit. I t's a production that
invites us to examine the theatricality of life and the shifting roles of our self-
identities.
The theatrical metaphor of role-playing suits the play well, and
Korsunovas's decision to build much of the production on the questions of
self-identity, self-deception, and pretense makes his Hamlet strangely relevant.
Both Shakespeare's and Kodunovas's Hamlet refuse to tolerate the duplicity he
uncovers in Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Claudius, and the others. Nor should
we tolerate such a situation in our own lives today, Kor5unovas asserts: "We
need to tear the veil that hides life from us ... . The real state of affairs is not
revealed to Hamlet, supposedly for his own good . . .. We need to look at
everything with Hamlet's eyes, we need more of his suspicion. We have fallen
too much in love with the illusion of security."
1
Oskaras Ko!Sunovas is one of Lithuania's leading directors, with a
well-established career and his own theatre company solidly established in the
National Theatre in Vilnius. He has presented work at international festivals
to great acclaim: three times in Avignon, as well as in Salzburg, Sarajevo,
Belgrade, Sydney, Edinburgh, and elsewhere. In Turin in 2006, he received
the prestigious Eighth European New Theatrical Realities Prize from the
European Theatre Union. In 2008, Korsunovas received a joint commission
to stage a new version of Hamlet from the 2008 and 2009 European Capitals
of Culture, Stavanger and Vilnius. He developed the show with a company of
experienced Lithuanian professionals with whom he had previously worked,
17
and Ham/etas premiered in Stavanger in November that year.
2
What is probably most remarkable about his version of Shakespeare's
classic work is the actors' stunning physicality and the way the ensemble
collaborated with the director to create the piece. From the outset, of
course, Kodunovas had a very definite concept for the show in mind: to
turn Shakespeare's narrative into a play-within-a-play, wherein the Prince is
struggling to learn the true nature of his situation (rather than merely trying to
flnd his father's killer).
Imagine a darkened stage containing only ten lighted theatrical
dressing room tables on wheels. Throughout the performance, the electronic
sound track returns to the irritating buzzing of the mirror lights-a leitmotif
reminding us of the theatricality of Hamlet's struggle or the coldness of a
morgue. The black-and-white make-up tables are constantly rearranged to
create different locales. At fust, they are simply lined up with actors staring into
the mirrors as the audience enters. Then, Korsunovas's staging foregrounds
Claudius the politician preparing his "state of the union" speech as the king
"rehearses" his fust court speech surrounded by the other characters, who are
all applying their own make-up.
Other scenes also seem to flnd themselves at home in this patently
theatrical environment. With the tables arranged in a straight line, mad Ophelia
walks across the tops of the mirrors like a balance beam from which she
tumbles into the water. The tables are transformed into a barrier when they are
moved into a triangle with Hamlet, Gertrude, and Claudius each occupying a
point as they argue, clawing to get at the others, trapped in their dysfunctional
three-way relationship. And we witness Rosencranrz and Guildenstern after
their "beheading" in England, still clad in their striped sailor shirts, seated
before the mirrors, sullenly wiping off their make-up after death, after their
failed mission.
Audiences who don't understand a word of Lithuanian are likely to
encounter few difficulties following what takes place onstage because of the
clear scenic statements that Korsunovas creates. Perhaps this is one reason
why Korsunovas's productions-and those of many Lithuanian directors
such as Eimuntas Nekrosius, Jonas Vaitkus, Gintaras Varnas, and others-are
often popular on the international festival circuit: all of them often work with
familiar European classics, and their mise-en-scene is highly visual, physical,
and expressive.
18 Slavic and East European Perjor1llance VoL 30, No. 2
......
\D
Ophelia (Rasa Samuolyte) dances wildly in front of the tables, while rest of cast applies make-up,
Ham/etas, directed by Oskaras Korsunovas
Cast eavesdropping on Ophelia (Rasa Samuolyte) in the nunnery scene,
Hamletas, directed by Oskaras Kor5unovas
C'-1
<::$
<
<::5
"<\
~
~
~
~
~
~
~
~
~
~
1
~
:-!'!
'-"\
~
A special example of this in Korsunovas's production is the nunnery
scene. Scholars endlessly debate whether or not Hamlet knows that someone
is overhearing his conversation with Ophelia. Is his sharp question to her,
"Where's your father?" motivated by a sound heard offstage, by his feigned
madness, or by simple paranoia? In Korsunovas's staging, the dressing tables
are lined-up in a row across the stage, and all the court characters cooperate in
"preparing" Ophelia for the interview: arranging potted plants to either side
of her, assisting her to sit atop one of the tables, and styling her hair. Then
they all retreat behind the mirrors, with their heads coyly appearing as though
eavesdropping. Korsunovas makes all of them-as well as those of us in the
audience-complicit as spectators in the nunnery scene. Of course, due to
Kodunovas's staging, for us the encounter is always unquestionably a set-up
because Ophelia has been coached by Claudius and Polonius.
This is the kind of radical scenic imagination for which Korsunovas
has been noted in past productions such as his 2002 cartoonized version
of Oedipus the King (staged as if in a playground with Tiresias as Finocchio,
the chorus in Mickey Mouse masks, and the children resembling depraved
Teletubbies); his 2003 staging of Romeo and Juliet (set in rival pizza parlors, where
classical tragedy is treated as culinary bathos); or his 2004 staging of Taming of
the Shrew at the Comedie Frans:aise using a set comprised only of desks. Gone
is theatrical realism, and in its place Korsunovas substitutes a new kind of
postmodern approach to the classics, an approach that critic Marvin Carlson
has noted in the work of other Eastern European directors rarely seen on this
side of the Atlantic: "such works may seem iconoclastic and irreverent, but in
the hands of gifted directors . . . they open up perspectives and crosscurrents
that prove both theatrically rich and profound."
3
Korsunovas not only directed Ham/etas but also co-designed the
iconoclastic set with his costume designer, Agne Kuzmickaite. "I always try
to avoid the visual that only illustrates," he remarked in a 2007 interview. "I
was always interested in the kind of theatre in which one is able to tell more
than only words can tell. I'm talking about a certain inconstancy between what
is said in words and what's happening onstage-between the verbal text and
the stage action .... Real theatre should ripple the water and put all those
long-established dogmas and values into doubt, and in this way create inner
conflict."
4
The actors, the designers, the dramaturg-in fact, all the members of
21
the Ham/etas production team-were present from day-one of rehearsals in
order to develop the staging. Korsunovas is no stranger to group work, nor to
the way in which actors create the psychophysical dimensions of a role. Since
he founded the OKT /Vilnius City Theatre in the capital, he has been noted for
his demanding physical approach to plays and his cultivation of highly skilled
ensembles on groundbreaking productions like A Midsummer Nighfs Dream, The
Master and Margarita, and Shopping and Fucking.
Korsunovas demands physical preparation, responsibility and a joint
effort to work for the implementation of a common goal. l-Ie has a number
of artists with whom he regularly prefers to work, but he's also noted for
"transforming" seasoned actors by opening doors to creativity they hadn't
known existed. "Because he devotes special attention to the visual images and
emotions, as well as to the rhythm and dynamics of acting, he makes other
actors want to excel in their acting," one Lithuanian critic has observed. "He
also chooses charismatic actors from the old school of actors, who, after having
tried it once, dream eternally of working with Kor5unovas again."
5
"There were many technically difficult things to do," observed Darius
Meskauskas, who played the title role in Ham/etas. "It was very, very physical
throughout the rehearsal period. Many times we felt like characters in that
David Lynch film, Inland Empire. "
6
The performance, too, is very muscular;
and by the end of the play, since the ensemble never leaves the stage, all the
actors seem utterly exhausted, covered with perspiration, dripping with gallons
of stage blood smeared on each other. All the actors sit dejectedly at the end of
the play in their chairs before the mirrors, their "drama" finally concluded, as
Hamlet cynically paces behind them. "He's the only one of them," Meskauskas
observes, ''who can't step out of character as the others do. He's the truth-
seeker, trying to elicit honesty from them."
It isn't just the visual metaphors that Kodunovas has devised as locales
that makes Ham/etas so stunning; it's also some radical character twists that he
has added. For example, one difficult challenge faci ng any director of Hamlet is
the problem of presenting the ghost of Hamlet's father to a modern audience
skeptical of the metaphysical and, at best, condescendingly tolerant of such
creaky Elizabethan stage conventions. In Kor5unovas's version, the ghost is
portrayed as a hunchbacked dwarf clad in black, like a confused commedia
dell'arte character wandering around the wrong playhouse. He dithers through
Elsinore in many scenes, not just on the battlements and in Gertrude's bedroom.
22 Slavic and EaJt European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
Ophelia (Rasa Samuolyte) sleepwalks while Gemude (Nde Savicenko) argues in mirror,
Ham/etas, directed by Oskaras Kor5unovas
23
Hamlet (Darius Meskauskas) with the clown-faced Horatio Qulius ZalakeviCius),
Ham/etas, directed by Oskaras Koriiunovas
""
<:>
<
o'
""


"'
"


6::


.._


Lti
...,.



'-'5

The other characters pat him on the head like a family pet or gently usher him
into the .surrounding darkness when he gets in their way. Like a court fool,
he says little but his ubiquitous presence adds a constantly unsettling note of
ambiguity to the story. In Shakespeare's best plays, Kodunovas observes, "there
are many things that, consciously or unconsciously, he has left unexplained, so
there is always a secret there, something not solved yet, so you have to flnd your
own answers."
7
There is also one new character that Korsunovas added: a large, white
rat with a whiskered head, clad in formal dress. He says nothing but is ever-
present: his pink nose looking-on from over the top of the dressing tables,
hiding behind a potted plant to overhear Hamlet and Ophelia, standing beside
Claudius as he confesses his sins in private. By the third act, the spectators are
looking for the creature everywhere, never knowing where he will appear. In
the play's flnal scene, he sits on the end of the lined-up dressing tables, sadly
regarding the exhausted ensemble, ruefully shaking his head. The played-out,
dysfunctional court family is too tired to continue any longer their sad, tragic
story. Something is indeed "rotten in the state of Denmark," the mute rodent
seems to say.
Aside from the hero's search for truth and self-identity, Kodunovas
also raises the question of whose narrative we ought to believe. He reminds
us that it's actually Horatio's story because he's the survivor telling the tale.
In Ham/etas, though, Horatio becomes a clown, mimicking Hamlet behind
his back in key moments and sporting a huge red clown-nose. He assumes
this role most pointedly in act four with the arrival of Fortinbras's army. We
never see the army, of course-it passes "offstage" to the sound of marching
drums and distorted, off-key martial music-but Horatio gleefully mimics
them, performing a fey little dance and pantomiming beating a drum while
Hamlet looks on bemusedly. "Is Horatio a spy secretly sent by Fortinbras?"
Meskauskas asks. "We considered this in our rehearsals, and it seemed right."
Kor5unovas coached his actors to develop this layer to the role.
In some ways, Kor5unovas seems to be seeking his own identity as an
artist, as he does in many of his productions. According to Danute Vaigauskaite,
who heads the directing program at K.laipeda University and is familiar with
Kor5unovas's work, "Korsunovas grew up during the period when we were
dominated by Soviet culture, before the fall of the Berlin Wall ... Directors
could not speak openly in public at that time, they had to speak instead in
25
metaphors, indirectly. That is one important reason why his theatre is now
so visual, so physical. And today, this tradition still survives as our directors
struggle to redefine Lithuanian theatre, and so many of them tour their work
abroad."
8
However, Kodunovas also makes this aesthetic problem deeply
personal by casting Hamlet as the truth-seeker, the hero in search of himself.
His hero constantly regards himself in the mirrors onstage, constantly
questions himself. And the other characters do so, too. When the audience
enters the theatre, the ensemble is already onstage, staring into their mirrors,
watching themselves narcissistically, regarding the spectators and whispering:
"'X'ho are you?"
Members of the audience are instantly plunged into the world of this
production, and throughout the performance the ever-shifting mirrors onstage
reflect and refract both the world of Elsinore and our world. "When we have
a close look in the mirror," Kodunovas reminds us, "we realize how little we
belong to ourselves. It's somebody else who's looking at us. Someone more real
than we are. A stranger who is as strange as one's own destiny. The vector of
such a look is already directed at the beginning of a tragedy, which ends with
the stories of Oedipus, Orestes, and Hamlet."
9
Paris theatre critic Molly Grogan has called K.orsunovas's theatre "an
art of 'signs of the times."'
10
She may be right, if-like Hamlet-we too are
involved in sorting-out different narratives that seem to crowd and jostle each
other as they hasten to explain our historical situation. Which narrative shall
we believe? Which must we reject? She may also be right if ours is an age
of spectacles, deception, and hype. Then we must-again, like Kor5unovas's
Hamlet- reinvent our identity, ask ourselYes honest questions in the mirror,
and see through the role-playing in order to find the truth.
26
Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 30, No. 2
NOTES
1. Anders Kreuger, "Interview with Oskaras Kor5unovas," European Theatre
Prize 2007, http:/ /www.premio-europa. org/open_page.php?id=109.
2. For a more detailed discussion of national theatres and the production
contexts in which Kor5unovas and other European directors are now working since the
fall of the Berlin wall, see the recent article by Edgaras Klivis, '1nadequate Subsidy and
a Market Economy in the Baltic countries," in National Theatres in a Changing Europe, ed.
S. E. Wilmer (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 204-14.
3. Marvin Carlson, "Performance Review: Ham/etas', Theatre Journal 50, no. 2
(May 1998) 233-234.
4. Steve Capra, "Interview'>vith Oskaras Kor5unovas," tr. Ausra Simanaviciute,
September 24, 2007, http:/ /www. newyorkcritic.org/Kor5unovas-interview.htm.
5. "Theatre: Between Modernism and Postmodernism," Menu Faktura,
October 25, 2005, http:/ /www.menufaktura.lt/en/?m=23613&s=23682.
6. Personal interview, March 6, 2009.
7. In conversation with Stephanie Bunbury following the 2008 premiere in
Stavanger: "Getting Physical," The Age, October 4, 2008, http:/ /www.theage.com.au/
news/ entertainment/ arts/ getringphysical/2008 / 1 0 /02/1222651260508.html.
8. Personal interview, March 5, 2009.
9. Oskaras Kor5unovas's notes to the play. Website of the Oskaras Korilunovas
Theatre, http:/ /www.okt.lt/ lt/spektakliaijhamletas.
10. "Oskaras Korsunovas Playing the Victim," Paris Voice, 2009, http://www.
parisvoice.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=432&Itemid=35.
27
28 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 30, No. 2
A BELARUSIAN DIRECTOR IN ST. PETERSBURG:
AN INTERVIEW WITH KSENIYA MITROFANOVA, MARCH 2010
Evelina Mendelevich
Kseniya Mitrofanova was born in Minsk, Belarus and currently directs her
own theatre company, TheatreTt:IK, in St. Petersburg. In addition to acting
and directing, Kseniya is the artistic director and one of the organizers of
"Ploshchadka" (Piqygrounc!;, an alternative theatre space on the premises of the
nightclub Efir.
EM: Ksen!Ja, you were trained for a musical career since childhood How did you end up
directing?
KM: Well, yes, at four I was already attending all sorts of hobby groups and
gymnastics. When I turned seven, my parents had to make a choice: sports or
music-by that time I had already been playing the bq;an (Russian accordion)
for a year, and it was becoming difficult to combine it with gymnastics
training. And so my parents staked everything on the bqyan. I was immediately
transferred to the Music Lyceum, where I played the bqyan for the next twelve
years. By the time I turned fifteen, I even began to enjoy it! During these years,
I organized various stage performances at school and at our local Jewish Youth
Club. However, at seventeen I discovered orchestra conducting, and this was
a truly transformative moment for me. I was hooked. It is then and there that
the future director in me began to grow, I guess. I fell hopelessly in love with
making music with your hands, your head, your soul. I practiced and practiced
conducting, and I eventually began to achieve a certain success and made
sufficient progress that I was sent to a conducting contest. But there I had to
take my dose of reality. My teacher, who was on the panel of judges, explained
to me in plain words that in this profession, fi.rst prizes are not for girls ... and
so I left with the second place. I was angry and upset. I refused to apply to
the Music Academy. I dropped everything-bqyan, conducting-and left for
Moscow. Such was the end of my musical career.
Two years later, by accident, really, I found myself in front of the St.
Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy, and three days later, I was standing
before the admissions committee, reciting poetry and apologues. I applied
29
to the Acting Department, but I was not admitted. I tried another place,
Theatre Lytsedei, also with no luck. Then I decided to try Saint Petersburg State
University of Culture and Arts and was easily accepted to the Department of
Performances and Celebrations Direction. I planned to get into the Acting
Program at the Theatre Arts Academy next year, but, to my own surprise, I was
enjoying what I was doing. And so, I have to thank chance for bringing me to
this strange department where I was introduced to this fascinating business-
theatre directing. Don't get me wrong, here women weren't taken much more
seriously than in the conducting business, but this time, it only inspired me to
prove everyone wrong. The next year I did apply for admission to the Academy
again, but this time to the Drama Directing Department. I was accepted,
despite an extremely high competition-1500 applicants for 10 spots! It was
incredible!
EM: I can see that chance plays an important part in your life and caree0 but still . .. W0'
St. Petersburg, UJ0' not your native Minsk or MoscoUJ, UJhich seems to be more open to the
young?
KM: St. Petersburg, Piter, is the city of my childhood reveries, the city of great
literature, of great resistance. It is the city of the impossible. I never wanted
to be here, to live here- not at all! It never even occurred to me. I loved St.
Petersburg for its inaccessibility. When I fled Minsk and came to Moscow, I
learned to love time-to move quickly, to be on time, to make plans, to seize
opportunities. At the same time, I learned to love timelessness-the necessity
of putting everything on hold, to take a moment of rest before collapsing,
the joy of daydreaming, and nostalgia-yearning for my home, for Minsk. It's
when I lived in Moscow that I fell in love with Minsk-my Minsk. I fell in love
with my past.
When I left Moscow, I brought with me my new loves, all intertwined:
the Moscow tempo and, right next to it, the Minsk calmness; strict planning
and absolute chance; my childhood and my future; the Piterian unattainability
and my being in it. In short, I got stuck. I no longer know where I am-in
the city or in the theatre. I think this city and theatre, like other things, got
hopelessly intertwined somewhere inside me.
As for rvfinsk ... on a more practical note, it would be impossible to get
a decent education in theatre arts there. The variety, the quality of instruction
30 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
(.;.)
Kseniya Mitrofanova, founder and director of TheatreTt:IK and Playground, St. Petersburg
.....
is by far superior in St. Petersburg. And just imagine the competition! One's
colleagues, one's rivals (and there are many of them in St. Petersburg), are
such an invaluable source of motivation, of productive anxiety, of experience.
There's simply none of that in Minsk. I n my opinion, St. Petersburg is a much
better place to learn and to begin your career in theatre.
EM: What about the financial situation? It's not an inexpensive business, I understand, so
where do you get monry to start your independent prqjects? Does the government offer atry
financial support?
KM: So far I've learned that in this business-! am now talking about
independent projects-you can rely on no one but yourself. And so you take
as many paying jobs as you can Ouckily, I have a rich experience in organizing
public events and entertainment programs), and then you invest your ear nings
in productions. And, needless to say, there's never enough money.
Last spring, I took part in St. Petersburg laboratory for young
directors, and my work, along with two others, won a certain grant. It was to
be an enormous support from the government, but .. . we waited and waited,
and we're still waiting. It's not quite clear how, when, and where the money
got stuck, but I didn't want the actors' and my own efforts to be wasted, and
I established my own company, invested my own money, and the production
went on stage. This is not a common practice, but I hope that those young
directors who feel they have nowhere to go and no one to rely on will follow
my example.
Lack of financial foundation is a serious obstacle for any theatre,
and for a theatre with no established name and reputation even more so. I t's
not easy to convince actors to attend rehearsals if you don't pay them, and so
you choose plays with a small number of roles, and artistic solutions remain
within a strict frame. Then rehearsals themselves are a problem when there is
nowhere to rehearse. It's overwhelming. But solutions do exist. One of the
most effective is to place your bets on a good actor and not on spectacular
costumes and sets.
Some of the recognizable tendencies that could be attributed to
financial issues are an increasingly smaller number of actors, a kind of
minimalism of visual forms, compensated by excellent sound and experiments
with video. Nevertheless, if the show leaves a feeling of "if only they had
32
Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
invested some money in this thing," in my opinion, it is a failure. It means that
they didn't think something through, didn't find a creative solution, didn't take
the right material. And, unfortunately, this feeling visits me quite often, and I
think this is a negative tendency-when directors stop looking for solutions
and sigh, hands down, "But what can we do? Everyone knows we have no
money," as if that is valid excuse! Such an attitude weakens us, in my opinion,
and leads nowhere, least of all to innovation.
EM: Can y ou tell me something about the prqject, "On. Theatre."
KM: The artistic lab " On.Theatre" took place in the spring 2009 here, in St.
Petersburg. I was invited and gladly agreed to participate, because we've been
thinking about the need for such a lab for a long time. The project was organized
by a young Moscow producer Milena Avimskaya, who recently moved to St.
Petersburg. Her goal was to introduce the city and artistic directors of major
theatres to young directors and contemporary drama, and to select the most
promising works (there were a total of 21 "sketches" by 21 directors) for a
fully-blown production. Among the judges were several leading Russian critics,
a young playwright, a major director, and one of the project organizers. After a
week of exciting, creative, promising work, however, we were sliding back into
the usual monotony-absence of money, of theatrical space, lack of planning
on the part of the organizers. It is important to note that not a single invited
director or producer from a major theatre appeared for the final presentation
of our projects, and this means that, alas, the mission to introduce the city (i.e.
the management of major theatres) to the young, and thereby to foster future
relationships, has failed.
EM: Is this what led you to create your own compaf!Y, Tf.IK?
KM: Yes, this is how the idea of "riK" was born. My lighting designer,
sound engineer, and I were sitting at the dinner table one night, having a long
discussion about our work on Prekrasnqye Da!Joko, when I thought out loud that
an independent theatre company doesn't have to mean a family of director and
actors, that, in fact, the three of us were already Theatre. It is the best company
a director needs, and it is hard to imagine a more potent artistic union and
understanding than the one we've established.
33
Valery Stepanov, Genady Olimpiyev, and Vladimir Antipov
in Prekrasnqye Da!Joko (Beautiful Far-Awtry), directed by Kseniya Mitrofanova
<"<
<:)

<:>
""


"
"'


0::
"


....

"""



'-")
'<t
('(")
TYK The name suggested itself quickly and easily. TYK is a
telegraphic code for "period." That is we are Theatre-period. At that time we
already knew that we would not be promoting any specific directions or trends,
that we are free to be carried away by a variety of forms, topics, techniques,
that we are all at the srage of searching, and theatre is a search, and our life is
a search, and theatre is our life, and our life is theatre. That's why Theatre-
period. (fheatreTYK). But perhaps someone else will find their own meaning
or theatrical formula in these three letters!
EM: Your most recent work, Prekrasnqye Dajyoko (Beautiful Far-Awqy), which ran for a
while in the Dostoevsk;y Museum Theatre, was very well received ry the critics and audience
alike. What is it about?
KM: Prekrasnqye Da!Joko presents scenes from the life of angels in an indefmite
place that is commonly called Paradise. It is a play about Freedom-that's what
the angels call the place to which they can never return, that is, Earth on which
they once lived their human lives. The play is also about love, about ineffable
love which angels, in their angelic nature, cannot fathom, or can fathom only as
miracle. It is about faith in God, who is absent from this place, about the kind
of faith that empowers through hope. The problem of the lost individual, for
whom some vague law, and convenience, and habit, triumph over the Actual
is very topical for me. It worries me that copy-book maxims, petty goals, and
affairs that ultimately numb our will, intellect, and senses, squeeze the life out
of us.
The audience's reaction was overwhelming. You could hear pretty
much the same response after each performance-"! want to live," which
means that we did most things right. Critics also unanimously supported
us and decided to nominate our acting and directing for the 2010 "Proryv"
(Breakthrough) Award.
EM: What are you current!J working on?
KM: One day a friend of mine, Viktoriya Bashilova, came to me and told me
that her friends were opening a new nightclub and that they were absolutely
infected with her idea to open up a playhouse in it. The idea was really
contagious, and I plunged into the enterprise with great joy. That's how it all
35
started. At the initial stage Viktoriya and I rushed to look for projects that could
be staged in this new theatrical zone (not an easy task, I assure you, for it's not
easy to run a show successfully outside of its traditional theatrical setting).
Then we rushed to search for proper lighting equipment, which, as it turned
out, the owners of the club couldn't afford, yet. Then I came up with a name-
Pfoshchadka (Pfcryground). We spread the news across the rivers and canals of
the city. I dragged my two fantastic lighting and sound professionals there,
and then we had an opening-a sketch-revue presenting a range of theatrical
genres. As artistic director of this "Playground," I want to showcase a wide
spectrum of various alternative theatrical works: drama, clownery, pantomime,
dance, one-man show, mass performance, reaclings, improvisations ... And
most importantly-no rental fees! This is going to be increclibly supportive
for young creative associations. Our target auclience: young people who don't
really go to theatre; and our message to them: if you don't come to theatre,
theatre v.1ll come to you. We've already created quite a stir in the theatrical
community of St. Petersburg. Interest is high-just think, a night-club-theatre!
We've already had four performances, and we offered rehearsal space to those
who need it. But perhaps our most important achievement at this point is a
growing group of young people who have never been to theatre in their lives
and who keep coming back to every new performance!
I am planning two major projects right now. The first is a staging of
Jean Genet's The Maids at Priyut Komeclianta (Comedian's Refuge Theatre).
This will be a full production with a decent budget. For this work, I invited my
excellent team, I found good actors, and we will have lots of time for rehearsals.
Besides inspiration, I simply have nothing more to wish for. I also plan to
organize a series of performances at the "Playground" with participation
of meclia people, that is, popular actors, musicians and writers. The aim of
this campaign will be fundraising in order to purchase professional theatrical
lighting for the club's new stage. But right now, we are looking for a sponsor to
fund our advertisement efforts so that everyone will know about these events
and so that everyone will attend them.
EM: Are you planning to do a'!Y work outside of St. Petersburg-in Minsk, for instance?
Would it be possible for you to work there?
36 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
'-"'
-...J
Tatyana Grogoryan and Tatyana Morozova
in Prekramqye Da!Joko (Beautiful Far-Awcry), directed by Ksen.iya Mitrofanova
KM: Although I frequently travel to Minsk to visit my family, the information
I have about the theatrical situation in Belarus is based mostly on the buzz
I pick up from articles and from Belarusian theatre-goers and theatrical
professionals that I meet at occasional festivals. The picture I have formed
is somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand, state theatres are clearly in a
deplorable condition (from an artistic point of view). The air is stifling there,
and you can sense immediately that it is managed from above. One of my
Minsk colleagues-the head director of the Minsk Drama Theatre-currently
rehearses in St. Petersburg. I've seen his work, and I feel ashamed, because his
work will represent the achievements of Belarus to everyone here.
But on the brighter side, there are numerous state-sponsored programs
in Belarus supporting the development of young theatrical professionals-
actors, directors, and playwrights. Such programs are invaluable and they
already yield significant results, but somehow I am not entirely convinced that
a state-sponsored program in the un-free state can give young theatre what it
needs as much as it needs finances-freedom to experiment, to explore, to try
various directions. I really doubt that. But to judge accurately, one needs to
judge from the inside- to be and to work in Belarus, and very soon I should
have that opportunity.
EM: Belarus Free Theatre often speaks about the need for theatre to be "relevant," "topica4"
for it to be 'Jree." What do you make of these terms?
KM:: I think that any theatre that creates, not recreates, is relevant (aktual'nyz). It
is contemporary theatre made by contemporary people and for contemporary
audience. And they speak on contemporary, relevant topics. To me, theatre
is relevant and topical by definition. Really, even if it is bad staging of a bad
play with bad acting, but the audience keeps coming to see it- it means it is
relevant. It is relevant because it reflects the actual state of affairs.
As for the term "Free Theatre" . . . coming from Minsk, it is
understandable. The very name of defines the general state of affairs of the
country, its environment. This combination of words sounds to me like a
signal, almost like an advertisement, as a confirmation of un-freedom. That
being said, I personally wouldn't use this phrase carelessly. After all, theatre,
by definition, is a conglomeration of various "un-freedoms," and at the same
time, theatre is the great liberator from other "un-freedoms." This is absurd,
38 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 30, No. 2
isn't it? I would never be able to separate these two contradictory but co-
existent aspects of theatre.
EM: Ksen!Ja, my final question: What would make you complete!J happy as a director
todqy?
KM: That's easy! 10 very good contemporary Russian plays, 25 exceptional
foreign plays in excellent Russian translation, one talented producer, and
infinite inspiration.
39
Andrei e r b n at Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, October 5, 2009
40
Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
ANDREI AND THE TRAVELING ACADEMY:
ABOUT CREATMTY AND THE INNER SELF
Corina
In 1990, immediately after the fall of communism, Andrei
arrived in Romania from the United States. He was invited at the time to
become general director of the National Theatre in Bucharest. eagerly
accepted the offer and soon took over the difficult challenge, perfecdy aware
that there was much to be done and that the results had to be both immediately
visible and quantifiable in the long term. He was ready to try to reshape the
post-communist Romanian theatre and give it a new form and creative energy,
capable of nourishing fresh beginnings. He stubbornly strove to turn this
energy into the seeding ground for a decontaminated emotional life to be
offered to the people of Romania, who had been so alienated and enfeebled
by their totalitarian past.
But more than anything else, determination to participate
in starting the engine of a new society brought the free arts back to center
stage. This was his hubristic challenge and splendidly idealistic ambition. Was
theatre before the fall of communism in Romania of artistic value? Of course
it was. It was perhaps one of the few spaces where human breathing had still
been possible, thanks to directors like Gheorghe Harag, O.talina Buzoianu,
Valeriu Moisescu, Dinu Cernescu, Victor loan Frunza, Silviu Purcarete, Mihai
Maniutiu, Alexandru Dabija, Alexandru Darie, and Tompa Gabor. But we, all
of us living in Romania, felt like prisoners. And being a prisoner is not being
free. It is as simple as that. Andrei was free.
By 1990, had already enjoyed widespread international
recognition and was an acclaimed figure in both theatre and opera. By agreeing
to come back home at this time, offered a precious gift to the Romanian
theatre community. The miracle happened. In less than three years, he
succeeded in reviving a moribund and lumbering institution like the Bucharest
National Theatre. He reshaped the theatre to train Romanian actors for his
Greek Trilogy (Medea, Trojan WOmen, and Elektra) and to stir, shake, and infuse
with new rampant inspiration the formerly propaganda-laden theatrical arena.
Romanian theatre was once again on the world map, reborn by his magical
touch, and ready to vibrate internationally. " It was an unforgettable summer,"
41
42 Slavic and East European Peifomlance VoL 30, No. 2
he confessed in his 2006 book 0 Biografie 0 Biography), remembering the first
season of this rebirth. "Everyone was so passionate and so committed to
work!" But miracles last for three days only, according to a Romanian proverb.
In 1993 he was off again. Post-communist repercussions were difficult to stop,
and an unparalleled moment of freedom and redemption for the Romanian
performing arts was drawing to an end. $erban's critical role in having made
the artistic revolution more true and more effective than the political one had
taken its toll. He felt his project blocked again by post-revolutionary inertia
and growing nostalgia for the comfort of an already known and cliched kind
of theatre.
Andrei $erban resumed his exile in the USA-by choice this time.
After that, the burning question was how to bring renewed energy to Romanian
theatre artists. It took many years. But in early 2004, by pure coincidence
(although we know "coincidence is God's alibi," as Cocteau says), due to a
workshop with actors and theatre directors from Balkan countries organized in
Romania, Serban was invited to return to the country to work, and a new phase
of his creative relationship with his fatherland started.
The central reason for his return was, surely, nostalgia, and a yearning
to work again in his mother tongue. But an additional reason was a need to move
on and exist in the present, both in his American and Romanian present-a
lesson that New York City teaches all of us who live here! The artist needed
to return to his roots and, because between 1993 and 2004 a new generation
of actors had emerged in Romania, he needed to see where they stood, and
what were the wellsprings of their creative stamina. Here they were: hungry for
everything that was inaccessible now that almost everything seemed accessible;
ignorant about the range of human emotional capabilities and the need for
discipline and research within the emotionally intricate landscape, unaware of
their own inner potential-on the one hand, overwhelmed with information
and, on the other, cut off from essential sources.
This is how the idea of an Andrei $erban Traveling Academy was
born. The director no longer nourished idealistic ambitions about working in
Romania, and he was himself at a different artistic stage in life. He became
engaged even more deeply in what Basarab Nicolescu calls "a theatre of
spirituality," of inner values, of self-introspection, all of which he translated
in a unique performative extravaganza. Working with his own Master's degree
students at Columbia University and concentrating much of his energy on the
43
transmission of his ideas, preserved his extraordinary capacity to stage
artistic universes that are at the same time funny and mysterious, light and
complex, bold and fragile. The actors and students he worked with felt this
profundity of the search he proposed, this double-faced persona of the artist,
capable of arousing in each of them the most deeply buried creative skills that
could be revealed in epiphanies.
All actors need the touch of a maestro, but Romanian actors need it
perhaps more than others today, as there is a critical missing link in all formerly
traumatized societies-the link between reality and the inner, emotional
self. Violent, aggressive social changes (like the post-communist transition
in Romania) do not allow time for emotional intelligence to develop. These
changes focus all attention on practicality, ownership, territoriality, property
recuperation and pragmatism. The arts are left behind. This is the moment
when a sensitive artistic figure and his Traveling Academy are most needed!
Theatre can regain at such a juncture its crucial role as a critical mirror
of truth in the face of politics, market dominated impulses, and society.
choices about how to develop the Academy were, therefore, not chosen at
random.
In its first year, the artist decided he wanted to do a play based on the
controversial novel published in 2006, Spovedanie Ia Tanacu (Deadfy Confession).
The production became a docudrama describing the case of a young orphan
girl- stranded in a small Moldavian monastery, mentally sick and in love
with her former roommate at the orphanage-who dies under mysterious
circumstances, apparently having been subjected to an exorcism by the
monastery's head priest (a stubbornly orthodox young man, a great believer
in his own vocation, but also trapped by his faulty views regarding power
struggles and the limits of Christian dedication). The incident was sensational,
real, and disturbing and had been covered by the international media as one
of the hottest topics. Andrei organized a retreat, selected a number
of young artists, and went for two weeks to work with the author, Tatiana
Niculescu Bran (with whom he turned the novel into a theatrical scenario,
using a great variety of workshop techniques and pushing the actors to develop
strong and productive interior discipline). Some of the actors left; the subject
was too strange, too sensitive, too troubling. But this was what the Academy
sought to explore: questions such as what is theatre and why do we work in
theatre if not to convey another reality, transcending the prosaic one. For the
44 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
~
Ul
Ellen Stewart and Andrei $erban at La MaMa, 2007,
following the presentation of Andrei ~ e r b n Traveling Academy's Dead!J Confession
46 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
actors that stayed, the message came through. $erban found ways to enable the
performers to acquire perspective, gain distance, and achieve discipline and
rigor. The retreat ended with the promise to pursue the work in NYC.
The work continued, and a performance was mounted and premiered
at La MaMa. The Romanian actors were touched by the unexpected appearance
at the premiere of Ellen Stewart. All the energies and emotions generated during
the weeks of intense work came alive in the performance, and the spectators
could not stop their questions after the show. Dead!J Confessions was soon
recreated in Romania and produced by a major company there, the Odeon.
This Romanian production toured Europe and gave its last performance in
Paris, at the very special theatre space of d'hOtel des Bague, with Peter Brook in
attendance at one of the performances.
In Romania, the performance gave rise to heated debate: Is this the
image we want to give of our country? Is the priest guilty or is he innocent?
The performance seemed to reduce his responsibility and suggest that we are
all socially responsible for what is right or wrong in or society. Spectators found
the performance overpowering, but necessary. Intellectuals wrote in awe about
how the production probed critically different facets of reality, while actors and
directors argued admiringly about the mixture of documentary and fictional
levels in the text. As always, $erban had touched the right cords, painful ones
at times, and the powerful reactions on the part of audiences proved how well
the Academy had succeeded in giving meaning and depth to theatre making in
Romania. The participating actors were full of gratitude and faith; they were
never the same again back in their home theatres, and still today they remain
clear about what theatre should be ever since undergoing this experience.
A second cycle of the Academy was supposed to start in 2009:
a workshop during summer and a journey to New York, concluding in a
performance. At least this was the intention. This time, $erban wanted to do
a play about the sculptor Brancusi, but the texts that he was able to obtain
were not inspiring. So, he decided to plunge headlong into contemporary
Romanian literature, choose new texts, and start a two-week retreat in Horezu,
close to Brancusi's birthplace. Was it the place, the rediscovered pleasure of
working freely and with no predispositions, the excellent actors who came to
the auditions, the ambiance of the nearby village, or the silent recollections
induced by the landscape ... no one will ever know, but the effect of this
second Traveling Academy workshop was magical. Special energies echoed a
47
special state of mind, the new group of young actors discovered that theatre
is about the self, the quest for self, and the rendering of this understanding to
the others.
In 2010, after having achieved an etat de grace, the group found that
mounting a production seemed futile and inconsistent for the New York
phase. Hence, New York was this time more of a follow-up for the sake of
international perspective. The ten participating actors and visual artist Matei
Branea joined Andrei ~ e r b n for a special event of the Traveling Academy,
presented on October 5, in collaboration with the Martin E. Segal Theatre
Center at the CUNY Graduate Center. An interactive and splendidly alive
evening with ftlmed images and discussions about the Academy closed this
second cycle. The young actors who accompanied Serban and demonstrated
the Academy's training exercises were Ioana Barbu, Andreea Bibiri, Lia Bugnar,
Boris Gaza, Radu lacoban, Marius Manole, Maria Obretin, Liliana Pana, loana
Pavelescu, and Matei Rotaru. Included as part of the evening at the Segal Center,
Serban launched a new, two volume retrospective album-Andrei $erban: !J4y
journry in Theatre and Opera, edited by the Romanian Cultural Institute in New
York and published by the Romanian Cultural Institute Publishing House
in Bucharest. As the album and the presentation by the Traveling Academy
proved, Serban's work is global in scope, intergenerational in influence, and
unending in duration. The Traveling Academy, as a live process, can never
predict what will happen to it. This time the experience was both integrated
and disintegrated, as a spiraling cycle of evolution creating bridges between its
phases and leaving the past to the past.
"But thy eternal summer shall not fade," says a Shakespearian sonnet.
The mystery of transmission and understanding through theatre can only
remain intact if the unforgettable summer that Andrei Serban brought to
Romanian theatre in the 90s never fades. The TraYcling Academy exists to
make this desire feasible.
The Andrei $erban Traveling Acadmg was launched at the initiatiw of Corina $uteu, the director of
the Romanian Cultural Institute in Nell/ York, and is a laboratory-like setting created for young actors itl
Romania, al!ol/ling them to "evade from 1/lhat one alreatfy kn01vs and reinvent oneself .from the scratch," as
one of the participating actors referred to his work in the Academy's /1/orkshops. The Acadeng is organized
in Romania and the US. lry the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York and Bucharest.
48 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 30, No. 2

Andrei $erban Traveling Academy 2009 demonstration at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center
Dmitry Troyanovsky,
instructor at the New GeneRussian Actor Training Workshop in New York City
50 Slavic and East European Peiformance VoL 30, No. 2
A STANISLAVSKY-INSPIRED ACTOR TRAINING WORKSHOP:
AN INTERVIEW WITH
DMITRY TROYANOVSKY AND BEN SARGENT
Oleg Ivanov
The New GeneRussian Actor Training Workshop in New York City is
a series of ongoing six to eight week sessions focusing on play texts by Anton
Chekhov. The teachers, Dmitry Troyanovsky and Ben Sargent, are master
graduates of the Moscow Art School (MKhAT) in Russia who collaborate with
Studio Six Company in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The Program
Director for the workshop, Caroline McGee, has served as director of the Lee
Strasberg Institute/NYU Tisch Studio and as producer for the Poiesis Theatre
Project's inaugural production The Ophelia Landscape at the Mark Morris Dance
Center.
The following is an excerpt from an interview conducted by Oleg Ivanov with
Dmitry Troyanovsky and Ben Sargent about the workshop, the differences
between teaching the Stanislavsky system in Russia and America, and
performing Eastern European plays in America.
OI: What is the first thingyou want people to know about the workshop?
DT: We're trying to educate people about how the Stanislavsky System can be
used, what the extent of the system is, and how it is being practiced in Russia
today. The way the Stanislavsky System is taught today is different from how it
was taught thirty, forty, fifty years ago. It's a living system, and each generation
adds something to it. It's a system that has to respond to the rhythms of life
itself. As the society and the culture changes, the system has to adjust.
BS: We're using our training that came from Russia, where it's a much more
team oriented art, so it's hard to apply Stanislavsky or any of the other Russian
teachers to how theatre is practiced here, where theatre is typically self-centered.
OI: You both studied at MKhAT, but in different programs. How did thry differ?
51

52
Slavic and East European Performance Vol 30, No. 2
BS: The MKhAT Conservatory Training School is for Russian students,
although they have partnerships with different American colleges and
universities that enable American students to study there in a program separate
from the Russian students. I went through ART (the American Repertory
Theatre in Boston) and trained with a group of Americans in Moscow who
were taking exactly the same program as the four-year Russian sequence. Since
the program had never really existed before, we developed it while we were
there.
DT: As a director, in my first year I was in all the same classes as the acting
students, but after that we went in different directions.
BS: The actors from ART are being trained to be professionals in America. I t
was a great experience because you could spend more time working on specific
material, and my theatre company here in New York tries to emulate that style,
focusing on the process, as we were taught at MKhAT. As you get better, you
can work faster, but it's nice to have enough time to develop the work. As ART
students, we ended up performing the entire year in repertory.
01: You produce a lot of plays by Eastern European playwrights.
DT: I've spent the last few years exploring contemporary Russian drama. I'm
trying to workshop and direct recent plays like Terrorism by the Presnyakov
brothers. As for earlier drama, why not do Chekhov? We never stop to ask
ourselves why we do Shakespeare or the Greeks, and I think it's true of
Chekhov as well. As long as theatre exists it's going to be useful to look at what
Chekhov has to say.
01: As far as earlier Russian playwrights go, Chekhov and Gogo/ are stili performed in the
United t a t e ~ but I've rare!J seen Gribqyedov or Tolstqy ...
DT: We did The Forest by Ostrovsky at NYU.
0 I: So do you perceive a change in that trend, or are certain older works forever lost in the
past? Is there any way to bring the Russian classics back to life?
53
DT: Some may be lost in the past. There's a need for new translations. I basically
did my own adaptation and translation of The Forest. Many contemporary
translations are done by the British. But when I read those translations, I
don't recognize Russian characters. They sound to me as if they're out of
Dickens. Step number one .is to create new translations, which need to be
commissioned. Step number two is to make these productions live and not
dead museum pieces. So maybe over time you can build an audience for these
classics, otherwise I don't see how we're going to get a lot of productions of
Woe from Wit or Boris Godunov by Pushkin or even lesser known plays by Gogo!
or Ostrovsky. It's never going to happen.
01: How is the Stanislavsk:J .fystem that you expound in this workshop and in your own
work different from American versions of the Method that you've encountered or studied in
other places?
BS: I've noticed that our system .is alive. When you go to the Moscow Art
Theatre school they have a picture of a tree with Stan.islavsky as the beginning
and famous deciples as branches that took it in different directions. I don't feel
that way here. It's not alive. Stan.islavsky is dead, and even the teachers that are
famous for bringing it here-they're dead too. So students say, "Well, they used
teach this idea, so let's try it." It doesn't fit in with the pulse of today.
DT: I don't want to pretend that I'm in any way an expert on the other American
systems, but I studied these things a little bit-practical aesthetics, elements
of Meisner, or reading and watching Strasberg people. In contrast to the
American systems, our approach seems to make less of a separation between
psychology and the body. Physical work. It connects those two elements
right away, almost from the first rehearsal. You will never get a Stan.islavsky
rehearsal, for example, that will be all about listening and responding. It's just
assumed that your whole body is involved in that process. You are attuned to
your partner, you don't have to sit down with your script and spend the next
three days going through exercises on how to listen to your partner. That's
one of the differences. The other is a greater emphasis on the imagination and
things that might seem extreme in terms of physicality to an American theatre
practitioner. Things that for an American might seem almost like going in the
direction of a caricature, or maybe commedia dell'arte. Highly physical acting.
54 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
There is a recognition in our system that stage acting is different from ftlm
and television. Although there's no reason why theatrically trained actors can't
adjust later to film and TV It's done all the time, and sometimes they make
brilliant ftlm actors. It's usually the other way around that's difficult.
Ensemble work is a large part of training at the Moscow Art Theatre.
In my work here at the workshop and when I direct elsewhere, I always
start with an hour of exercises to bring people in and give them a common
vocabulary. You can't always assume that people share some the same acting
language, so you have to bring them together. They have to function as one
living, breathing body on stage. I don't often see that in American theatre. Some
years ago I went to see the production of The Seagull in Central Park. It had
a very glamorous cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Some of the acting was superb, some of it was not, but no one was connecting,
they each had their own production going on. That's another big difference in
the way we practice theatre at the workshop. We spend less time working with
an individual actor and thinking about how he or she is feeling at the moment
and concentrate more on how the entire ensemble, the entire group, the entire
cast is doing. What is the energy of the group?
01: What would you like people to come awtf) with from the workshop? What do you hope
thry 1vould have that thry dzdn't when thry first came in?
DT: It depends on what they came in with, their level. For some of them, it
will be very basic actor training. For some, the goals are very simple. If they've
had almost no exposure to theatre training, then the goals are to learn how
to focus onstage, learn how to concentrate, learn how to pay attention to a
partner. Very basic and modest goals. For some of the others who have more
experience, they will learn how to shed their cliches, learn how to be fresh
onstage, to respond to whatever is happening in the moment rather than to
some preconceived, prepackaged idea. Preconcpetions usually mean death on
the stage.
BS: They can't help but come away with a knowledge of how to work correctly,
which is something that we always t alk about. The correct process. No matter
what their level or how much time we have to work with them, at least they
understand that there is a proper way to approach theatre work in the ensemble
55
Russian style. The teachers guide you, but you have to be very receptive, and
some people are quicker studies than others. You need to be comfortable with
yourself, to be free.
DT: We're giving them the condensed version of the flrst year or year and a
half of Moscow Art Theatre, much of which is tools for evaluating yourself.
Many of these exercises, which are structured like games, allow you as an
individual to check your ability to focus, your memory, your motor skills, your
kinesthetic responses. You get to learn about yourself, and then it depends on
how eager, smart, and capable you are. Do you want to put the work, a lot of
work, into becoming a better actor? We can't control that, but we're giving the
students very important rools.
BS: And it's all through their partners. They have to know that. Without their
partners they're lost.
DT: We're giving them something very important, but they have to make use
of it. They can pursue it if they want to, they can enroll in more semesters
with us. They can do the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center/National Theatre
Institute program in Russia, and while they're there they can try to enroll in
MKhAT as Ben and his classmates did. Then they can spend three of four
years in Moscow.
BS: We try to teach each actor find something that can help them in progressing
to the next step. We do a lot of physical training. 1 teach Russian movement,
which we learned atMKhAT, to help the actors develop a sense of their bodyies
on the stage, how to carry themselves. We want them to be bigger. We don't
want this standing around, talking head theatre. It's not that way in Russia.
DT: At MI<h.AT, all the students are eventually encouraged to come up with
their own secrets, their own ways of working on their roles.
BS: And you have to do your homework, we stress that to our students. We
tell them to play around with their roles. For example, try to do your morning
routine as your character.
56 Slavic and East European Performance Vol 30, No. 2
Vl
-.j
Amanda Lipinski, Erin McGuff, Daniel Leonard, Molly Gillis, Jenny Donoghue,
Emily Grace Buck, Max Carpenter, Anni Wiesband in Ostrovsky's The Forest at NYU,
directed by Dmitry Troyanovsky, using ensemble actor training techniques from the workshop
01: Chekhov seems to be a big part if your workshop and the Stanislavsfg System in
general. Those two things seem to be connected in people's minds. Your workshops mention
that Chekhov's forces are a good entry point into the rystem and important for understanding
the writer's later plays. Could you elaborate on that?
DT: In Chekhov's late plays, the great plays we all know such as Three Sisters
and The Cherry Orchard, the characters operate on multiple levels of desire and
sometimes don't even know what they want. How do you play someone who
doesn't know what he or she wants? But in his farces, the characters know
exactly what they want, and they pursue that very simple, sometimes primitive,
desire or action to its illogical conclusion. For beginner actors in training, it's
important to learn how to identify a simple action, desire, want, or what in
American theatre is often termed "motivation" or "objective". Once they fmd
that, we teach them to focus on and pursue it. It's one of the basic skills an
actor needs, and the farces help teach that.
BS: We want freedom and fun. The farces are not as heavy as his masterpieces.
We do bookwork and analyze the plays to show our students the differences
between text and action. This teaches them the correct way to analyze the text.
Then you approach Uncle Va'D'a and Three Sisters, and you start to analyze what
they are saying versus what they want. It always blew my mind when one of
my teachers at MI<hAT explained their version of an interpretation. I t's unique
to everyone. This is a good way to dip your toes in the water without being
overwhelmed.
DT: The students do improvizations based on the farces. They use the actions
and events of the play to invent their own text, and hopefully by the end of
the semester, they'll be fairly close to the original text. We don't require them
to learn every word because our assumption is that memorization is one of the
skills we don't have to teach people. If they have a healthy functioning memory,
they can do that without our help. Our job is to teach them how to be alive,
how to be free and create interesting behavior onstage, how to play the real
action under the text and not just the text. They'll take care of learning the text
on their own.
58 Slavic and East European Peiformance VoL 30, No. 2
01: Do you feel a need to carry on the mission of MKJJAT?
DT: Based on our life experiences and who we are, we can't help but try to be a
bridge between two theatrical cultures. We make it our mission because it gives
some sort of purpose to our lives, or at least our artistic lives.
BS: It's certainly a personal drive, but MKhAT is quite supportive. They went
through all the trouble of having us over there. They're interested in what's
going on in America. They have tours come over here. They're proud of the
work we do and that gives us good morale to continue. As long as they continue
to be supportive in that way, you can't help but feel excited about bringing that
here. Young people are very excited about it. Students get very enthusiastic. It's
old, and it's new.
DT: Surprisingly, something that's so old and traditional in Russia still seems to
be new to a lot of American theatre students.
59
Vedran Zivolic as Binat in Carage directed by lvica Buljan
60 Slavic and East European Perj0r111ance VoL 30, No. 2
THE ZAGREB YOUTH THEATRE'S GARAGE,
DIRECTED BY IVICA BULJAN, AT LA MAMA, NEW YORK
Margaret K Araneo
From January 28 to February 7, 2010, New York City's legendary
experimental theatre space, La MaMa, was home to the Zagreb Youth Theatre
of Croatia (ZY1). The acclaimed Croatian theatre director, Ivica Buljan, along
with an ensemble of eleven actors and six musicians, transformed the bare
stage of La MaMa's Annex Theatre into an arena for violence, vice, and social
decay. Despite the brutality of this dystopic portrait of a mythic postwar
Croatian town, hip-hop music, vibrant acting styles, and at times deliberately
cartoorush fight choreography created a spirited theatrical experience for a
diverse New York audience.
Garage, based on the novel of the same name by Croatian sports
journalist Zdenko Mesaric (who also wrote the stage adaptation), explores
the life of young Binat-a mentally challenged, ten-year-old boy, living in an
impoverished settlement on the coast of Croatia. Despite Binat's unspecified
mental disability, he possesses an extraordinary physical talent. When placed
inside a makeshift boxing ring at a seedy underground club called the Garage,
he can overpower any man, woman, and even animal he is challenged to fight.
Binat's father, who is also his trainer and manager, exploits the boy's skill for
everything from money to sex. His mother, a diabetic whose poorly treated
condition eventually kills her, offers him only minimal protection as she
struggles for her own survival. As the action unfolds, Binat finds himself in
the ring with increasingly vicious opponents, eventually being forced by his
father to brawl with a ferocious dog.
Binat's story intersects with a futuristic narrative about a grotesque
form of medical tourism. The impoverished settlement in which Binat's family
lives sits amidst a beautiful landscape coveted by developers. An entrepreneurial
project, undertaken in cooperation with the local authorities, aims to convert
the region into a resort for terminally ill patients who are looking to prematurely
end their lives. Serving as a kind of "Club Euthanasia," the project organizers
see the squalor and poverty of the locals as a potential liability in attracting
future clients. Plans are made to push the local population to the outskirts
of the area- out of the view of the resort's patients/tourists. From Binat to
61
the underprivileged inhabitants of the settlement to the incurable seeking a
final resting point, few if any have a reasonable chance at salvation. Garage,
through its rich physicality, non-traditional staging, and skilled and committed
ensemble, captures the nihilistic energy of a people forced to the edges of
hope.
The run of Garage at La Ma1Vfa earlier this year marked not only the
U.S. premier of MesariC's play but also the New York debut of ZYT. One of
Croatia's leading theatres, ZYT regularly presents its work internationally and
has garnered over fifty awards from theatre festivals throughout Western and
Eastern Europe. While ZYT's repertory includes sophisticated, contemporary
productions of classic works, such as adaptations of Anna Karenina and The
Great Gatsi?J, the theatre is best known for its commitment to innovation and
the cultivation of new projects by emerging and established artists. ZYT's
renowned Youth Studio, what has come to be called the ZYT College, is credited
with the training of many of Croatia's actors and performers, giving young
theatre artists a chance to explore their craft and develop a lasting technique.
Garage, with its visceral staging and morally complex subject matter, captures
the spirit of experimentation and youthful exploration that has come tO define
ZYT, making it an ideal offering for New York audiences encountering the
theatre's work for the first time.
While the ensemble of Garage appeared to work faithfully within the
boundaries of MesariC's dramatic text and Buljan's choreography, the piece
vibrated with an unpredictable energy usually associated with improvisation.
Both the ensemble's choice to perform in English for the New York run and
Buljan's inclusion of live music on stage to accompany the action contributed
to the extemporaneous feel of the production. Since none of the performers
spoke English as their primary language, and several seemed relatively new
to it, the dialogue took on an occasionally halting and jagged rhythm. Rather
than detracting from the production, however, this added a powerful level
of spontaneity to the actors' performances. In moments when the English
words or phrases eluded the performers, the action always continued. Their
bodies expressed the frustrated reality living beneath the text and gave the
audience immediate access to the emotional life of the characters. Similarly
the presence of the supremely popular Croatian hip-hop band Beat Fleet on
stage also created a sense of immediacy in the production. Supporting the cast
upstage, the band provided both a sonic backdrop and live commentary on the
62 Slavic and East European Peiformance VoL 30, No. 2
Vedran Zivolic and Barbara Prpic Biffel in Garage directed by Ivica Buljan
63
Vedran Zivolic and Doris Saric Kukuljica in Garage directed by Ivica Buljan
64 Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 30, No. 2
events unfolding. The band's powerful rhythms and at times shrill tones built a
neurotic atmosphere rich with suspense.
While Garage embodied some of the very best elements of an
ensemble work- a balanced cast, a collaborative process of storytelling, and
a shared commitment to a clear aesthetic-certain individual performances
stood out as exemplary. Vedran Zivolic, who played Binat, captured in his
twenty-something body the innocence and rage of a ten-year-old boy tortured
by physical and mental abuse. With little spoken text to work with, Zivolic
advanced his character through an explosive physicality. Whether fighting
his opponents in the ring, cowering in response to his father's blows, or
affectionately kissing the body of his dead mother, his sinewy body captured
the journey of a confused child on the edge of destruction.
Equally compelling was the work of Ksenija Marinkovic, who played
Binat's mother. Often restricted because of the character's progressively
disabling condition-her legs are eventually amputated, leaving her to crawl
across the floor-Mariokovic uses her physicality to transform the open
stage into the suffocating reality of her and Binat's abusive home. In the face
of her squalor, she is always a site of opposites struggling for resolution.
Simultaneously sexy and disgusting, maternal and girlish, compassionate and
rageful, Marinkovic walks the line between heroine and victim with physical
strength and artistic sophistication. MarinkoviC's scenes with Zivolic are her
most compelling. Her soft vocal tones and gentle caresses bring a calm not only
to Binat's ravaged body and twisted psyche, but to an audience searching for
moments of rest inside the anxious swirl of the stage action.
Garage received positive reviews from the New York press. For New
York audiences that have been generally underexposed to Croatian theatre,
ZYT's debut generated a keen interest in the vibrant new work being done
on the Zagreb stage. Hopefully this successful first run will open the way for
future projects to come to the States and for an important theatrical exchange
to open up between two cultures rich in theatrical tradition.
65
CONTRIBUTORS
MARGARET ARANEO was the Managing Editor of Slavic and East European
Peiformance from 2005 to 2009. She teaches in the Theatre Department at
Brooklyn College and the Drama Department of New York University's
Tisch School of the Arts. Margaret conducts theatre-related workshops at The
Cooper Union. She holds a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, an M.F.A.
from Carnegie Mellon University, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Theatre at the
Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
ROGER ELLIS is a scholar amd director who has edited and authored fifteen
books on the contemporary theatre. He leads performance workshops in the
United States and internationally, and he has also represented the USA at
international festivals in Japan, Africa, North America, and Europe. A graduate
of the University of California, Berkeley's doctoral program, he founded the
Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival and is currently Professor of Theatre at
Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
OLEG IVANOV is a freelance writer, editor, director, dramaturg, teacher,
and translator. In 2009 he dramaturged the NYU Department of Drama's
production of The Forest by Alexander Ostrovsky. Currently an M.A. candidate
in Theatre History and Criticism at Brooklyn College specializing in Russian
and early Soviet Theatre, he plans to graduate in May 2010 upon the completion
of his thesis on the plays of Mikhail Bulgakov. He is the house dramaturg for
the Global Theatre Ensemble.
EVELINA MENDELEVICH teaches Russian language and comparative
literature at Brooklyn College. She is a doctoral student in the Ph.D. Program in
Comparative Lterature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New
York where she is writing her dissertation on fiction as a mode of experience
in Dostoevsky and Henry James. She grew up in Minsk, Belarus, and came to
the U.S. in 1997. She is a regular contributor to SEEP.
66 Slavic and East European Peiformance VoL 30, No. 2
CORJNA ~ U T U is the director of the Romanian Cultural Institute New
York. She started her career as a theatre critic in Romania, and has served as
the director of the Theatre Union of Romania (UNITER) and Theatrum
Muncli in Bucharest. Before coming to the United States, she worked for
twelve years in France as director of the European master's degree in cultural
management at the Business School of Dijon. During this time, she also
founded the first regional training program in cultural management for Eastern
European professionals, the ECUMEST program. She has worked extensively
as independent trainer, consultant, and researcher in the fields of European
cultural cooperation and cultural management. She is author of Another Brick in
the Wall A Critical Review of Cultural Management Education in Europe (2006) and
of numerous articles and studies.
67
Photo Credits
Oskaras KorSunovas's Ham/etas
Photos by Drnltrij Matvejev
Kseniya Mitrofanova and PrekraSIII!Jt Dalyokg (Beautiful Far-Awq,y,!
Photos by Viktoriya Bashilova
Andrei Serban's The Greek Tri/r;gy
Photo by Sorin Lupsa
Ellen Stewart. Andrei Serban and Deadly Confession
Photo by Daniela Dima
Andrei Scrban Traveling Academy demonstration at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center
Photo courtesy of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York
Dmjtry Troyanovsky
Photo courtesy of Dmitry Troyanovsky
Ben Sargent
Photo by Anjali Bhargava
TheFomt
Photo by Bob Moyers
Vedran Zivolic in Garage
Photo by Mara Bratos

Photos by Sla,en Vlasic
68 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 30, No. 2
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLICATIONS
Playwrights Before the Fall:
Eastern European Drama in Times of Revolution
Edited by Daniel Gerould, preface by Dragon Klaic
Playwrights Before the Fall: Eastern European
Drama in Times of Revolution contains
translations of Portrait by Slawomir Mroiek
(Poland); Military Secret by Dusan Jovanovi c
(Slovenia); Chicken Head by Gyorgy Spiro
(Hungary); Sorrow, Sorrow, Fear, the Pit and
the Rope by Karel Steigerwald (Czechos-
lovakia); and Horses at the Window by Matei
i ~ n i e c (Romania). In this unique ant hology,
playwrights examine the moral and psycho-
logical dimensions of the transformations tak-
ing place in society during the years of transi-
t ion from total itarianism to democracy.
Written before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the five plays reveal the absurdities
of an inflexible system based on belief in abstract ideology that sacrifices the
individual to dogma. These authors bear witness to the ravages of commu-
nism and to the traumas of its disintegration and lend thei r voices to the
frightened and manipulated whose lives were stunted by entropic regimes.
Price US $2o.oo plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Pl ease make payment s in US dollars payable to: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Marti n E. Segal Theatre Center,
The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY10o16
Visi t our websit e at: www. thesegalcenter.org Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212817-1868
MARTI N E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLI CATIONS
Czech Plays: Seven New Works
Edited by Marcy Arli n, Gwynn MacDonald, and Daniel Gerould
Czech Plays: Seven New Works is
the first English-language antholo-
gy of Czech plays written after the
1989 "Velvet Revolution." These
seven works explore sex and gen-
der identity, ethnicity and vio-
lence, political corruption, and
religious taboos. Usi ng i nnovative
forms and diverse styles, they
tackle the new realiti es of Czech
society brought on by democracy and globalization with char-
acteristic humor and intelligence.
Price US$2o.oo plus shippi ng ($3 wi thin t he USA, $6 i nternational)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to : Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Marti n E. Segal Theatre Center, The CUNY
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY100164309
Visit our website at: http:/ / web.gc.cuny.edu/ mestc/ Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-8171868
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLICATIONS
jan Fabre: I Am A Mistake. Seven Works
for the Theatre
Edited and forward by Frank Hentschker
Flemish-Dutch theatre artist Jan
Fabre is considered one of the most
innovative and versatile artists of
his day. Over the past twenty-five
years, he has produced works as a
performance artist, theatre maker,
choreographer, opera maker, play-
wright, and visual artist. This vol-
ume represents the first collection
of plays by Jan Fabre in an English
translation.
Plays include: I am a Mistake (2007), History of Tears (2005),
je suis sang (conte de fees medieval) (2oo1), Angel of Death
(2003) and others.
Price US$15.00 plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Pl ease make payments in US dollars payable t o : Marti n E. Segal Theatre Center. J
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulati on Manager, Marti n E. Segal Theatre Center, The CUNY
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY10016-4309
Visi t our website at : http: / / web.gc.cuny.edu/ mestc/ Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 2128171868
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLICATIONS
Witkiewicz: Seven Plays
Translated and Edited by Daniel Gerould
Wot kii'Wil L
SEVEN PLAYS
This volume contains seven of Witkiewicz's most
important plays: The Pragmatists, Tumor
Brainiowicz, Gyubal Wahazar, The Anonymous
Work, The Cuttlefish, Dainty Shapes and Hairy
Apes, and The Beelzebub Sonata, as well as two
of his theoretical essays, "Theoretical
Introduction" and "A Few Words About the Role
of the Actor in the Theatre of Pure Form."
roMANIA After 2000
Edited by Saviana Stanescu and Daniel Gerould.
Translation editors: Saviana Stanescu and Ruth Margraff.
This volume represents the first anthology of new
Romanian Drama published in the United States and
introduces American readers to compelling playwrights
and plays that address resonant issues of a posttotali
tarian society on its way toward democracy and a new
European identity. includes the plays: Stop The Tempo
by Gianina Carbunariu, Romania. Kiss Me! by Bogdan
Georgescu, Vitamins by Vera I on, Romania 21 by t e f n
Peca and Waxing West by Saviana Stanescu.
Price US$2o.oo plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to : Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The CUNY
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY1oo164309
Visit our website at: http:/ /web.gc.cuny.edu/mestc/ Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 2128171868
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLICATIONS
Barcelona Ploys: A Collection of New Works by
Catalan Playwrights
Translated and edited by Marion Peter Holt and Sharon G. Feldman
The new plays in this collection represent outstand-
ing playwrights of three generations. Benet i Jornet
won his first drama award in 1963, when was only
twenty-three years old, and in recent decades he has
become Catalonia's leading exponent of thematical-
ly challenging and structurally inventive theatre. His
plays have been performed internationally and
translated into fourteen languages, including
Korean and Arabic. Sergi Belbel and uuisa Cunille
arrived on the scene in the late 1980s and early
1990s, with distinctive and provocative dramatic
voices. The actor-director-playwright Pau Mir6 is a
member of yet another generation that is now
attracting favorable critical attention.
}osep M. Benet I }ornet: Two Ploys
Translated by Marion Peter Holt
Josep M. Benet i Jornet, born in Barcelona, is the author of
more than forty works for the stage and has been a lead-
ing contributor to the striking revitalization of Catalan the-
atre in the post-Franco era. Fleeting, a compelling
" tragedy-withi n-a-play," and Stages, with its monological
recall of a dead and unseen protagonist, rank among his
most important plays. They provide an introduction to a
playwright whose inventive experiments in dramatic form
and treatment of provocative t hemes have made him a
major figure in contemporary European theatre.
Price US$2o.oo plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The CUNY
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY1oot64309
Visit our website at: http: //web.gc.cuny.edu/mestc/ Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-8171868
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLICATIONS
Buenos Aires in Translation
Translated and Edited by Jean Graham-Jones
BAiT epitomizes true international theatrical collabora-
tion, bringing together four of the most important con-
temporary playwrights from Buenos Aires and pairing
them with four cutting-edge US-based directors and
their ensembles.
Plays include: Women Dreamt Horses by Daniel
Veronese; A Kingdom, A Country or a Wasteland, In the
Snow by Lola Arias; Ex-Antwone by Federico Leon; Panic
by Rafael Spregelburd. BAiT is a Performance Space 122
Production, an initiative of Salon Volcan, with the sup-
port of Institute Cervantes and the Consulate General of
Argentina in New York.
Price US$2o.oo plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Four Works for the Theatre by Hugo Claus
Translated and Edited by David Willinger
Hugo Claus is the foremost contemporary writer of Dutch
language theatre, poetry, and prose. Flemish by birth and
upbringing, Claus is the author of some ninety plays, nov-
els, and collections of poetry. He is renowned as an enfant
terrible of the arts throughout Europe. From the time he
was affiliated with the international art group, COBRA, to
his liaison with pornographic film star Silvia Kristel, to the
celebration of his novel, The Sorrow of Belgium, Claus has
careened through a career that is both scandal-ridden
and formidable. Claus takes on all the taboos of his times.
1
-fOliR \\'OkKS
'"' '"' n''' "''


?. -.
... .... . :/
.;. :'!'
Price USSts.oo plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: Martin E. Segal Theat re Center.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The CUNY
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY1oo164309
Visit our website at: http:/ /web.gc.cuny.edu/mestc/ Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-8171868
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLICATIONS
The Heirs of Moliere
Translated and Edited by Marvin Carlson
rOI'I tr"'CII \ OMlO'!.' Or Ult
'"'tt-lt <tMU,JIU
1 .. ...
.., .... ( ...
This volume contains four representative French comedies of
the period from the death of Moliere to the French Revolution:
The Absent-Minded Lover by Regnard, The
Conceited Count by Philippe Nericault Destouches, The
Fashionable Prejudice by Pierre Nivelle de la Chaussee, and
The Friend of the Laws by Jean-Louis Laya.
Translated in a poetic form that seeks to capture the wit and
spirit of the originals, these four plays suggest something of
the range of the Moliere inheritance, from comedy of charac-
ter through the highly popular sentimental comedy of the
mid-eighteenth century, to comedy that employs the Moliere tradition for more con-
temporary political ends.
Pixerecourt: Four Melodramas
Translated and Edited by Daniel Gerould & Marvin Carlson
This volume contains four of Pixerecourt's most important
melodramas: The Ruins of Babylon or ]afar and Zaida, The
Dog of Montargis or The Forest of Bondy, Christopher
Columbus or The Discovery of the New World, and Alice or
The Scottish Gravediggers, as well as Charles Nodier's
"Introduction" to the 1843 Collected Edition of Pixerecourt's
plays and the two theoretical essays by the playwright,
"Melodrama," and "Final Reflections on Melodrama."
Pixerecourt furnished the Theatre of Marvels with its most
stunning effects, and brought the classic situations of fair-
ground comedy up-to-date. He determined the structure of
a popular theatre which was to last through the 19th centu-
ry. Hannah Winter, The Theatre of Marvels
Price US$2o.oo each plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager. Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The CUNY
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NYtoot64309
Visit our website at: http:/ /web.gc.cuny.edu/ mestc/ Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-8171868
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLICATIONS
Four Plays From North Africa
Translated and edited by Marvin Carlson
This volume contains four modern plays from the
Maghreb: Abdelkader Alloula's The Veil and Fatima
Gallaire's House of Wives, both Algerian, Julila Baccar's
Araber/in from Tunisia, and Tayeb Saddiki's The Folies
Berbers from Morocco.
As the rich tradition of modern Arabic theatre has recent
ly begun to be recognized by the Western theatre commu
nity, an important area within that tradition is still under
represented in existing anthologies and scholarship. That
is the drama from the Northwest of Africa, the region
known in Arabic as the Maghreb.
The Arab Oedipus
This volume contains four plays based on the Oedipus
legend by four leading dramatists of the Arab world.
Tawfiq AlHakim's King Oedipus, Ali Ahmed Bakathir's
The Tragedy of Oedipus, Ali Salim's The Comedy of
Oedipus and Walid lkhlasi 's Oedipus as well as Al
Hakim's preface to his Oedipus on the subject of Arabic
tragedy, a preface on translating Bakathir by Dalia
Basiouny, and a general introduction by the editor.
An awareness of the rich tradition of modern Arabic the
atre has only recently begun to be felt by the Western the
atre community, and we hope that this collection will con
tribute to that growing awareness.
Edited by Marvin Carlson
Price US$2o.oo each plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The CUNY
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY100164309
Visit our website at: http: //web.gc.cuny.edu/ mestc/ Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 2128171868
MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER PUBLICATIONS
Theatre Research Resources in New York City
Sixth Edition, 2007
Editor: Jessica Brater, Senior Editor: Marvin Carlson
Theatre Research Resources in New York City is the most
comprehensive catalogue of New York City research facil-
ities available to theatre scholars. Within the indexed
volume, each facility is briefly described including an
outline of its holdings and practical matters such as
hours of operation. Most entries include electronic con-
tact information and web sites. The listings are grouped
as follows: Libraries, Museums, and Historical Societies;
University and College Libraries; Ethnic and Language
Associations; Theatre Companies and Acting Schools;
and Film and Other.
Comedy: A Bibliography
Editor: Meghan Duffy, Senior Editor: Daniel Gerould
This bibliography is intended for scholars, teachers, stu-
dents, artists, and general readers i nterested in the the-
ory and practice of comedy. The keenest minds have
been drawn to the debate about the nature of comedy
and attracted to speculation about its theory and prac-
tice. For all lovers of comedy Comedy: A Bibliography is
an essential guide and resource, providing authors,
titles, and publication data for over a thousand books
and articles devoted to this most elusive of genres.
---------
---- __ ...._..
Price US$to.oo each plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The CUNY
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NYtoot64309
Visit our website at: http://web.gc.cuny.edu/mestc/ Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-817-1868