A DEAD MAN'S MEMOIRStudio of Theatre Art, Moscow
Based on Mikhail Bulgakov
Director: Sergei Zhenovach
Set design: Aleksander Borovsky
Light Designer: Damir Ismagilov
Music: Grigory Gobernik
Some fragments from Stanislavsky’s book “An Actor’s Work on Himself” and notes of his rehearsals are used in the performance.
The music from the opera "Faust" by Gounod
Duration: 2 h 40 min
Sergei Zhenovach, the inheritor of Russian psychological theatre, goes back to the roots – an ironic history of the Moscow Art Theatre.
In this performance, one can say that The Studio of Theatrical Art most accurately following the traditions of Russian psychological theater in the modern Moscow went to basics: it returned to the history of the Moscow Art Theatre. The production has got some pathos expressed in serious attention to literary work (the events in “A Dead Man's Memoir” appear as if mystical visionary of the hungry artist) and in some sweet and gentle ironic attitude which Mikhail Bulgakov allows himself for the complex body of the theater.
This is not just another production of «Theatrical Novel». This is a self-consistent production. It includes the preparatory and early materials that prefigured creation of the novel. The nature of dreams, feelings, and most importantly the tragicomic perception of the world lie in the basis of our show. We wanted to focus on the relationships between the author and his characters, the author and the theater, the director and the playwright. It was important to understand what a painful and irreconcilable conflict it is between the author’s initial plans and the result he finally achieves. How much does the author’s concept loose as the result of this conflict? Sometimes it is the most important thing which was the reason to start it all. “A Dead Man's Memoir ” is a hard-won and tragic thing by Bulgakov.
The name "A Dead Man's Memoir" is the subtitle of "A Theatrical Novel" by Mikhail Bulgakov, the piece which can be easily called "immortal". However, Sergei Zhenovach didn’t limit himself to the satirical novel about the theater backstage world which humor doesn’t become obsolete with time. He expanded the period of time covered by the book: he began with Bulgakov’s young years spent in Kiev and gave to the play "Black Snow", which in the "Theatrical Novel" the inexperienced writer Sergei Maksudov brings to the famous Independent Theatre, its real name, "Days of the Turbins". With this play Mikhail Bulgakov made a fascinating tragicomic journey through the circles of Soviet Art Theatre which he later described in his novel.
... That is what is essential: today, when just the whole atmosphere is saturated with information about the disorders in the Ukraine, the text of "The White Guard", a novel about the troubled year of 1918 which characters experience the collapse of the former civilian life and have to say goodbye to the past and feel fear for the uncertain future, sounds very important. And it adds to the performance a special actuality and tension.
When before the show an actor howled "Help!" and ran across the foyer, and the unknown followed him with shots, the audience shuddered, not immediately realizing that it was a part of the theatrical action and not the reality that sweeps into the theater...
... "A Theatrical Novel" was not finished, it has no finale and its last sentence breaks off: "I began to think simply: if the theory of Ivan Vasilievich is infallible and through his exercises an actor could receive the gift of deep penetration into his characters, it is natural that in every performance each actor must create such a situation when the viewer fully buys the illusion. And play it in the way that the viewer would forget that there is the stage in front of him ..."