As promised by the current general director of the Moscow Art Theater, and now also the honored theater builder Vladimir Kekhman, the renovation at Khudozhestvenny on Tverskoy Boulevard was a success. Toilets, buffets, foyer, auditorium – stylish, expensive, comfortable. There is no doubt that this will be the most fashionable place in Moscow. Although the guests invited to the opening are by no means the heroes of gossip from the red carpet, but respectable people from government and business structures.
The auditorium changed the panels on the balconies and the color of the flooring (now it is light, to match the new chairs), and as a result of increasing the distance between the rows, it has lost 215 seats – now there are 1380 of them. The curtain is light gold, luxurious, with tassels, but from it for some reason, the famous Mkhatovskaya seagull flew away. Where did this bird go? But Vladimir Kekhman appeared before the curtain.
— I am very proud and happy that I am standing on this stage thanks to God. What we were able to do, and you all saw, is absolute happiness for me. Therefore – the anthem of Russia! he announced.
Hall stood up. At the forefront is a children’s choir that flew to Moscow from Novosibirsk on purpose, in the center of which is the beautiful Ekaterina Volkova in a brilliant bright red dress, which did not really fit with the rows of old-fashioned leather jackets that hung behind a beautiful soloist with young choristers. Like on some Cherkizon. The actress began the anthem: “Russia is our great power…” “…Russia is our mighty country,” tender children’s voices picked up, and the Mikhailovsky Theater choir answered them from the upper tier. And such a powerful and high-quality performance made a strong impression on the audience. She had no idea what a shock awaits her ahead.
After the anthem, the golden curtain hid the choir, and the general director of the Moscow Art Theater reappeared, who, as it should be on such occasions, thanked a number of government officials for their support. But that was not a formal “thank you”, but in fact a keynote speech delivered in 5 minutes and 12 seconds. Here are her fragments. The first is addressed to Igor Shuvalov, Chairman of the VEB.RF State Development Corporation:
– I am incredibly grateful to you precisely for what you said that I was an idiot, since I want to change Moscow: “You don’t have to do this.” Nevertheless, I want to tell you: I will still try to do this – to change the theatrical space of this city.
For everyone, Vladimir Abramovich found non-standard words of gratitude: to the Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova, who could not attend due to illness, but her “incredible dad, who gives me invaluable advice” was present (Professor and Rector of Sliver Boris Lyubimov. — M.R.).
I hope that the advice will be useful to Vladimir Abramovich in his desire to do what the founder of the Art Theater Konstantin Stanislavsky did not manage to do in his time. However, what exactly K.S. wanted, his current leader did not begin to spread. He also mentioned the Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, with whom he is already making the second theater after the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet.
– And now this theater, which, I hope, by the 25th year will become the most equipped theater in our country and one of the most equipped theaters in Europe …
And, of course, a deep bow to the government apparatus, “without which – nowhere.” As well as without the Presidential Administration, without which “nothing happens here at all.” And now about the main gratitude – to the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, who signed the Decree on the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the theater, as Kekhman said (attention!!!), “which does not exist.”
– This, of course, is the wisdom of Vladimir Vladimirovich, because I hope that this theater will appear next year. And the decree of celebrating the Public Art Theater will become, let’s say, the forerunner of new interesting changes that will take place on this stage.
New and interesting, shown after the speech, made a strong impression. The first performance of the renewed Moscow Art Theater, which claims to be a leader, was “Unexpectedly” based on a 1997 story by Valentin Rasputin. In sharp contrast to the golden curtain was Russia twenty-five years ago – the damned 90s. And not Moscow or St. Petersburg, but distant Irkutsk, where there is a market with Chinese goods, beggars, bandits, an exchanger with a ridiculous exchange rate – 5 and 6 thousand with kopecks per dollar. Today it looks like … fu, well, just fu. Especially after visiting the Moscow Art Theater’s luxurious theater buffet with top-notch service, to which Moscow has long been accustomed. And then… They hit you in the face, they pester you with women’s rags: “Buy your wife, buy…” The market is covered by local gangsters in conjunction with the cop; a prostitute, a little beggar – all this lives as best she can under Agatha Christie.
Senya (Marat Basharov), a man of about fifty, tells what happened to him in this “Shanghai”. Arriving with a list from his wife to buy this and that, Senya saw a little girl, well, a pure blond angel, who asked for alms. And they gave it to her. Earnings, of course, were taken by the bandits of Bury (good work by Nikolai Korotaev) and his brother (the wonderful Andrey Veshkurtsev). Senya felt sorry for the girl, but it so happened that he, feeling sorry for her to the point of pain in his heart, did not want to, but nevertheless took him to Zakamoriha to his wife Galya (Natalya Medvedeva and Ekaterina Volkova). And then the bandits came and took the girl away. That’s the whole plot of Rasputin, whose prose is simple, restrained, with a speech flavor. He narrates or philosophizes about the terrible: “… If we are so smart today, why were we such fools yesterday? With universal secondary education with entry into higher education. And we did the wrong job, and ate the wrong thing, and slept the wrong way, and made the kids from the wrong side. We were not the same around. But why? They say that we were specifically taught so that higher education was no higher than fools. This was the mission of the state. Okay, the task … But why? .. If we were all such fools, how did we become so smart in one somersault?
Director Galina Polishchuk, together with the author of the staging, Elena Isaeva, emotionally strengthened the Rasputin story and prescribed in detail the bandit line – tin. On land, on the proscenium, where the artist has spread the market, and in the water spilled further in the depths of the stage, this is the Angara, in which they live and urinate, and in the literal sense – they kill harshly, mercilessly and almost naturally, but without obscenity.
You sit and think: “Was Russia really like this only twenty-five years ago? And does today’s Russia, which, breaking through the lawlessness of the 90s, and now is in the conditions of the NWO, not fully accepting these conditions, need such a truth? Maybe now the viewer should not be reminded, maybe he should prepare something beautiful, comforting? Did Vladimir Kekhman realize when he chose exactly this material for staging as an application for the current Art Theater?
During the intermission at the buffet, I see how the audience is a little nailed. Someone was indignant at the voice: “I can’t look at this. Give me some red wine” and the opposite: “Directly European approach, where people go to the theater for pain, horror and emotion. Cognac for me.”
Emotions are over the top. Despite the costs of staging (whether it was worth giving the hero the role of a narrator?), the cruel truth, oddly enough, is presented in a surprising light: it was the work of the lighting designer Vasilyev that gave what was happening on the stage an infernal image, an image of the trouble of the whole country – but was it? The light is cold, with the effect of reflection from the water.
Marat Basharov, the performer of the role of Senya, is clearly hampered by the role of the narrator, in any case, emotionally, from beginning to end, he cannot get out of one state – compassionate confusion. Perhaps this is due to the excitement of the first show.
But, despite the expressive stage gesture, which stubbornly plunges the prosperous Moscow audience into the past, there is silence in the hall. Shock – this is more likely to characterize the atmosphere at the premiere performance in the theater, which is not yet available, but which, according to Kekhman, will appear. The first step has already been taken. The question is raised – what is relevance on stage: just naked people, imitating a bowel movement from some advanced directors, or an attempt to seriously look around, so as not to forget what dirt we came out of, and some have become rich. And make sense of it.
Artists of different generations work decently in two styles – realistic, everyday (all scenes with poor people) and plastic, which looks quite impressive in combination with water and light. But in the first case, there is a huge problem with the microphones, because of which, especially in the first act, it was hard to hear the artists. At the Moscow Art Theater on Tverskoy they always played without microphones, and it is completely incomprehensible why they decided to resort to a headset this time. Perhaps, in the presence of phonogram music, they wanted the best, but it turned out as always.
In the second act, the actors have a serious competitor – a living mongrel playing a dog in the house of the poor Pozdnyakovs, who warmed someone else’s girl, but in fact saved her. The mongrel turned out to be such a talented “actress” that she flawlessly followed the commands in the text, and on bows she even went ahead of the artists for flowers. Although the basket was clearly not meant for her.
After the performance, I still managed to find out, no, not about the dog, but about the bird – why the seagull disappeared from the Moscow Art Theater curtain.
– This is not our seagull, it is from Kamergersky. Ours will be on the iron curtain (fire curtain. — M.R.) when it is done,” Vladimir Kekhman explained to me.