PUSHKIN`S FAIRY TALESTheatre of Nations, Moscow
Участник программы «Russian Case» Фестиваля 2016 года
Director: Robert Wilson
The world-famous Robert Wilson has directed a production in Moscow – this alone speaks a lot. Wilson’s recognizable style in make-up, in visual effects and in the rhythm pf the performance is unusual for Russian theatre. It is impressive how well the Theatre of Nation copes with the integration. Pushkin`s fairytales that seem to be meant for children, here turn out to be telling about death. Paradoxically, it took an American director to clearly state the obvious: that hatred and injustice, the arrogance of those in power and complaints of the people – everything loses its importance in the face of the imminent death and the soulless nature. Death is the highest judge that will explain everything and will give everyone according to merit. Death is needed to sing Hallelujah to love. Death justifies life. Irreversibility of death is an internal moral law. In the final scene Yevgeny Mironov as Pushkin is at his best. The poet has attained wisdom and is ready to accept whatever life will bring him. He looks at the world with a Mozartian smile as if it were his own creation. It is an artist who brings a meaning to the universe. The young poet is played as a demiurge who enjoys the life he has created. The adolescence of talent and the talent of the youth are the only things that can confront death while reminding about it. The message is simple: the one who has talent will be the winner.
Having long found pleasure in savouring the beauty of static scenes, live pictures, “colourful dreams about black and white”, Wilson had a good reason to choose fairy tales out of the whole variety of possibilities for working in Moscow. In fairy tales, with all the body moves, long distances and changes of fate, statics is a part of the game. Those who are good are good, those who are bad are bad, from the beginning till the very end.
Starting with the first screen curtain, Wilson shows a bright, glittering world, where spangles, gold and silver shouldn’t outshine the horrors that are waiting for fairy tale heroes behind every corner. Pushkin describes it very simply: “Put the queen and put her son / In a cask, and sealed it fast; / Tarred it well, and then they cast / Cask and burden in the sea”. Only in a fairy tale can you get safe and sound out of such a scrape.
Wilson's relationship with text is a quite well-researched issue, yet it looks like everyone is stepping on that very same rake again. Even taking into account that his principles of using author’s words have long been formulated very concisely, and not by critics, but by his associate, director Tom Waits, who noted that “for Bob words are like nails in the kitchen floor, when it is dark and you are barefoot”. The best of his productions either lack coherent text at all, or are based on verse, like “Shakespeare’s Sonnets”, where actors and actresses (undistinguishable in appearance from the characters of “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”) seem to be lines that have come alive and that are now nonchalantly making their elaborate moves.
Apparently the famous American director Robert Wilson does not like pathos – either in words or in action. Although it looks like it's not possible to do without it. In his production “Pushkin’s Fairy Tales” he accomplished what should be done by politicians. He unlocked the borders of Russian culture for the world, he showed that “the things that make us who we are” are actually universal, valuable and highly needed by everyone. And while we are persistently encouraged to find refuge in the national hermitage in order to value authentic national traditions without looking too much around, he takes both Pushkin and Russian theatre out of there, having organized an excellent meeting of cultural worlds without any sanctions or bans. In Wilson’s Russian production, created by a multinational creative team, very different styles and genres come to the fore – from different national theatre and music styles to exposing archetypal features of the fairy tale genre itself with it migratory subjects, which, in their roaming, didn’t escape Pushkin’s attention.
St.Peterburg Theatre Journal
You know right away who's production it is, you don't have to be an expert, it's enough to flip through fragments of Wilson's shows on Youtube. A signature cyclorama, glittering like water-surface, which sometimes turns into a background for silhouettes, a completely empty stage, changing its look thanks to the coming and going compact portable set, pronouncedly uncommon, inventive costumes, complicated actors’ make up – all this is Wilson as he is, you could check it against the textbook. Wilson is in extravagant actors’ movement, in the strange atmosphere, which is customarily called “meditative” – sometimes mysteriously ritualistic, sometimes displaying saloon-like decency, sometimes unexpectedly exploding through explicitly profane pranks worthy of a TV sitcom.