17 марта 2010
Moscow Shines in Golden Mask NominationsJohn Freedman | The Moscow Times
Even as the annual Golden Mask Festival prepares to get underway next week, it already is with us. In fact, it has been for some time.
Gone are the days when at the end of March the Golden Mask kicked off a quick two-week run of drama, musical and puppetry productions that finished with a big-bang award ceremony in the second week of April. That star-studded ceremony is still in place, of course — this year it takes place at the glitzy Gostiny Dvor on April 16 — but little else is the same.
For example, the first nominees in the musical categories began playing in Moscow on the final day of January. In fact, all nominated shows from St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater were performed here between January and early March.
Even that has become customary, however, as the Mariinsky juggles its busy touring schedule, and the most is made commercially of the theater’s lucrative appearances in the Russian capital.
But the Golden Mask has added still another sidebar to its growing list of extracurricular events — the New Play program, which is already in progress and continues through Friday. This minifest, the first running of the successor to the now defunct New Drama festival, presents new play readings and productions of contemporary works.
Two New Play shows this week are particularly noteworthy. “Natasha’s Dream,” a piece by the burgeoning international sensation Yaroslava Pulinovich, produced by the Saratov Theater Yunogo Zritelya, plays Wednesday. Yelena Isayeva’s “The Notes of a Provincial Doctor,” produced by the MIG Center of St. Petersburg, plays Thursday. Both run at the Meyerhold Center at 7 p.m.
Alongside the New Play program are two noncompetition events introduced in recent seasons — the Mask Plus program and the Legendary Productions and Names of the 20th Century series. The latter brings in famous foreign productions, such as the Mark Morris Dance Group’s “Dido and Aeneas,” which plays March 24 and 25 at the Novaya Opera Theater.
Mask Plus offers noteworthy productions from various cities that are not nominated for awards. “Golden Cloud at Night,” a piece looking at the effects of war on children by the Bashkortostan Youth Theater, plays Friday. “Contemporary Dance from Belarus,” created jointly by the D.O.Z.S.K.I. and Karakuli theaters, plays Monday. Curtain time for both is 7 p.m. at the Meyerhold Center. Following them on March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Theater Center Na Strastnom is Grigory Kozlov’s acclaimed student production of “The Idiot” for the St. Petersburg Academy of Theater Arts.
And, whew! We have barely even touched on the reason why the Golden Mask exists in the first place: the shows that are nominated for awards.
Each spring the Golden Mask presents its competition schedule drawn from productions that premiered during the previous season. This year that means shows that opened between fall 2008 and summer 2009.
In sheer numbers, Moscow put in one of its strongest showings ever. Twenty-three of the total 49 shows nominated originated in the Russian capital. Second in line, but making its weakest showing in recent memory, is St. Petersburg, with nine nominated productions. Novosibirsk and Perm each put forth four nominees, while the cities of Yaroslavl and Kirov, with one nomination each, make their first ever appearance at the Golden Mask. In all, theaters from 12 cities are participating.
The list of directors nominated for awards includes some familiar names, including Sergei Zhenovach, Alexei Levinsky and Yury Pogrebnichko from Moscow, but more than ever the nominations signal a shift away from the big guns that usually dominate the competition. Of the 14 directors up for best director award, about half are making their first appearance.
The competition schedule, the 16th since the festival was founded, gets underway in earnest on March 27 with a performance of the Et Cetera Theater’s musical “The Producers.” The following day, the first two dramatic productions make their appearance on the festival’s marquee. These are Yevgeny Kamenkovich’s dramatization of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” for the Fomenko Studio, and Rimas Tuminas’ interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida” for the Vakhtangov Theater.
As has become the custom, the category of best dramatic production is broken into two groups, best large-form work and best small-form work. It is in the large-form set that the cities of Kirov and Yaroslavl will compete.
The Volkov Drama Theater of Yaroslavl — the oldest playhouse in Russia, by the way — is nominated for Igor Selin’s production of Alexander Griboyedov’s classic comedy “Woe From Wit.” This ageless story, about a young man returning from a trip abroad to find that old friends and acquaintances look more hostile than he recalls, plays April 5 at the Mossoviet Theater.
Representing Kirov is the Theater Na Spasskoi with “The Notebook,” a dramatization of Hungarian writer Agota Kristof’s first novel. This tale of war and destruction, directed by Boris Pavlovich, plays March 29 at the Theater Yunogo Zritelya.
St. Petersburg may be underrepresented at this year’s festival, but its two main theaters are in the running for large-form awards. Because of scheduling conflicts, the Alexandrinsky already performed Valery Fokin’s production of Vadim Levanov’s “Ksenia. Story of Love” in early March. The Bolshoi Drama Theater performs Anatoly Praudin’s production of Ivan Turgenev’s “A Month in the Country” at the Mossoviet Theater on April 2.
Among the small-form drama nominees are two of Russia’s most respected regional houses — the Kolyada Theater of Yekaterinburg and the Theater U Mosta from Perm. Both are small companies that have had a big impact over the last decade.
Sergei Fedotov, founder of Theater U Mosta, established his reputation with several meticulous, irony-laden productions of plays by the Irish writer Martin McDonagh. This year Fedotov’s handling of “The Cripple of Inishmaan” plays April 13 at the Meyerhold Center.
Nikolai Kolyada, a playwright who has heavily influenced contemporary Russian theater not only with his dramas but with the dozens of internationally-acclaimed writers who have graduated from his writing class at the Yekaterinburg Theater Institute, is a protean talent. In addition to his accomplishments as a writer — including wearing the hat of editor-in-chief of the major literary journal Ural — Kolyada is a celebrated director and has been nominated for best director awards several times. His production of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” plays April 9 and 10 at the Pushkin Theater affiliate.
The puppetry and experiment categories offer a mix of the familiar and unknown.
Moscow’s innovative Ten, or shadow, Theater, a perennial winner of Golden Masks, is nominated for Best Puppet Show with its “The Epic of Lilikan.” Ready to give it a run for its money are the Puppet House Theater of Penza, with “My Friend the Genie,” and the Ulger Theater of Ulan-Ude, with “Under the Eternal Light of Kumalan.”
Five shows, all from Moscow, incidentally, will battle for the single experiment award. They include Dmitry Krymov’s “Opus No. 7” for the School of Dramatic Art, Pavel Pryazhko’s jarring play “Life is Grand,” a co-production of Teatr.doc and the Playwright and Director Center, and “Old Hags,” a one-woman show based on the eccentric writings of Daniil Kharms and performed by Stepanida Borisova for the Featr playhouse.
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