THE SOLDIERTeatr.doc, Moscow and POST theatre, St. Petersburg
Эксперимент / спектакль
The shortest performance in the current Experiment category of The Mask lasts for no more than ten minutes. The playwright Paul Priazhko wrote a single sentence: "A soldier came home on leave" and the director and founder of the experimental POST Theatre Dmitry Volkostrelov has staged this phrase. In the "new DOC" - a small room adjacent to the main basement area, the audience sees the actor Pavell Chinaryov on the screen taking a shower, drying and dressing himself, and after this mundane ritual, he emerges, coming out to us live, and finally pronouncing the only remark.
A discussion is usually arranged after the SOLDIER for the audience to ask those two tantalizing questions: "What was that?" and "What does it mean?" And the director and the actor (the playwright lives in Minsk, Belarus) do not so much answer as restrain themselves from going too far with their explanations. It turns out everyone sees something else in the SOLDIER,some see the serious consequences of military service, some see the conceptual gesture of an artist. What we can say for certain though is that the SOLDIER,like other works by Pryazhko and Volkostrelov, disrupts the habitual conventions between the stage and the audience. A hermetic, self-sufficient gesture does not mean provocation - this gesture is like that because it corresponds to the coordinate system of the playwright and the director.
I was concerned about the subject of a soldier coming home on a leave pass. I started making a story - one, two, three. And then I realized that I was unable to convey what I wanted accurately. Yes, I followed the law of plot construction, I introduced some characters, but, in fact, I was doing nonsense, completely departing from the statement I needed. And suddenly I understood that the required form consisted of two sentences, it was the only option. Dima decided to produce it. It was thanks to him, that the text wasn’t lost. As I also sent the text to another director, but he thought it was a joke. And for me this is a serious work. I'm glad that Dima understood it.
During a discussion after the first performance one person from the audience asked a question - whether it was a viable theatrical format? And he answered himself that it was not viable. However, the performance is in the repertoire, it is currently performed quite regularly, and Pavel Chinaryov comes from St. Petersburg especially for it. Viability is such a quality which depends only on us. And, frankly speaking, it has never occurred to me that it's an experimental performance. Rather, all the traditionally necessary conditions for performance production have been observed here. And as for its duration – can it still surprise anyone?