22 февраля 2021


The upcoming Russian Case will be held online, for the first time in its history. And this is good news no matter how paradoxical it may sound. For once, even those who were never able to get to Moscow for the Russian Case, will have a chance to join the programme. And for once, the organizers will be able to show all productions that the curator considers to be important,  rather than just those that are logistically possible to show live during the tight five-day festival schedule. All that said, the video format, alas, will never substitute for impressions of a live show. It has long been obvious to us that only what we refer to as conventional theatre i.e. when the audience is seated in the auditorium and the actors perform on stage, can be more or less adequately conveyed on the screen. Meanwhile, the Russian theatre landscape is extremely diverse at the moment, and its immersive, inclusive and performative components have become increasingly extensive from year to year. 

Some of the most important productions selected for RC-2021 such as INVESTIGATION OF HORROR staged by Boris Pavlovich in a communal flat, the promenade performance THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRDS staged by the Theatre of Mutual Actions, A SIMULTANEOUS GAME by Anna Abalikhina staged on the premises of the Museum of Moscow or the production with a strange tittle AN OAK TREE BY MICHAEL CRAIG-MARTIN directed by Ilya Moshchitsky that reveals the manipulative nature of theatre, will give an online spectator a hard time to complete the picture of a performance in his/her imagination while watching them in the video format. But the very fact that the Russian theatre time and again offers the spectator unusual rules of the game and challenges its own borders is certainly gratifying.

As for the substantive content of the Russian Case, an important statement needs to be made: when selecting productions, I was guided by nothing else but the aesthetics criteria. The statement would have sounded like an ambitious banality only a while ago, but today it bears an almost polemical challenge. While the number of feminist, postcolonial, anti-capitalist, psychotherapeutic and other theatrical products relevant to the local agenda in progress is growing in Russia - as everywhere else in the world - the amount of art in such theatre is diminishing. For this reason I absolutely did not take into account such considerations as “relevance” and “progressiveness”.

I assume that not every political statement that I share is aesthetically sound but nearly every theatrical utterance that makes an aesthetical impact on me carries a powerful political charge. This is true even when the authors and characters (as in the case of INVESTIGATION OF HORROR) are concerned exclusively with metaphysical issues.

I will go even further and say that ideology almost invariably arises from the aesthetics (just like that, and not vice versa), and the divide in the modern world is increasingly defined by aesthetic rather than by political views. Andrei Moguchy and Kirill Serebrennikov, Ksenia Peretrukhina and Zhenya Berkovich, Kirill Vytoptov and Sasha Denisova, Dmitry Krymov and Boris Yukhananov – they all have their primary principles rooted and defined by their theatrical thinking. To paraphrase Jean-Luc Godard, they do not make political theatre, but they make theatre politically. That is exactly why their productions have been included in the programme of Russian Case-2021.
Marina Davydova

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