WOLVES AND SHEEPThe Tabakov Theatre
Set Designer: Larisa Lomakina
The Classics Actualized
No one in Russia has written about money in a more convincing way than Alexander Ostrovsky. The classical author wrote about the subject at the end of the 19th century when capitalism in Russia was starting to develop. Like any budding capitalist, the Russian version was closer to the natural food chain, with wolves scenting their prey from 100 kilometres away, while the sheep give in to them with the predator gaining virtually all the advantage. Today Russia looks at Ostrovsky’s plays in an impartial mirror.
At the centre of one of his best plays is the young widow, Kupavina, whose husband has left her with a considerable legacy. The broken, land owner Murzavetskaya, who is such a scheming Tartuffe, tries to marry off her useless, alcoholic nephew to the widow. She forges documents and resorts to blackmail and seems a real she wolf. But she also turns out to be a sheep, when onto the stage comes a new character, the capitalist Berkutov - cold, prudent and cruel. The widow marries him. Comfort and calculation determine her choice but she prefers to call it love.
The young director Konstantin Bogomolov is not satisfied with just giving an explanation for modern Russia. He uses the old play to create a parallel between Russia and Nazi Germany. The production is staged in the colours of the Nazi flag and is accompanied by German pre-war songs. In addition to society and power, ornate Russian Orthodoxy is in the director’s gun site.
The classics being actualized is a rare treat for the Russian theatre. The most famous production that comes to mind is The Forest by Kirill Serebrennikov and the Moscow Art Theatre. Interestingly, neither Serebrennikov nor Bogomolov criticize political power as such, but the motives behind its choice for Russia. In both Serebrennikov’s and Bogomolov’s productions the nation is personified in the image of the lonely widow. Once she was married to a tyrant (in other words, Stalin) and suffered greatly but now she misses the steady hand. The actors who play her new man do not even have to parody him for the audience to immediately identify him with Putin.
8 m x 10 m, height: 8 m
FOR AUDIENCE OF
1 ton/30 m3
SET UP TIME