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Kazan Academic Russian Great Drama Theatre’s marks 220th anniversary

The Kachalov Kazan Academic Russian Great Drama Theatre’s 220th anniversary season is one of the Tatarstan capital’s most significant cultural events. On September 21, the audience is to watch one of the theatre’s largest performances, The Great Combinator, based on a novel by Ilf and Petrov. Besides, theatre lovers are this season in for premieres. They are the French playwright Eugene Labiche’s comedy Dust In The Eyes, the fairy tale based on L. Tolstoi and L. Ustinov’s works Ivan The Fool and Valery Zalotukha’s novel The Last Communist. The theatre’s artistic director Alexander Slavutsky has spoken to Tatar-inform about the anniversary season, premieres and much more.

Q: Alexander Yakovlevich, the theatre’s 220th anniversary is a very big date. Tell us, please, how you are going to mark it.

A: I believe in marking any kind of birthdays and anniversaries with working. Our main activity is staging plays, this is what we do. We plan to make a jubilee party in a year, in September 2011. This season will be to prepare for the event. Also, we do hope Kazan will host the 1st Kachalov festival which idea we conceived 15 years ago, and it will end with a jubilee party. We would like to invite artistically competent theatres, so the audience in our city could see the country’s best theatre teams.

Q: Which premieres are viewers in Kazan to see in the near future?

A: We are about to release a new play, based on a play by Eugene Labiche, the vaudeville Dust In The Eyes. I need to say the premiere luckily coincides with the Year of France in Russia. The play is very relevant today, the feeling is it was written practically yesterday. This is going to be a merry lyrical play about love. I think people need this. The fairy tale Ivan The Fool will be staged as well, in which 17 my students, this year’s RATI’s graduates are engaged. We plan to make the play before the New Year. The young director Ilya Slavutsky has begun working on the play for children Thumbelina based on the Andersen’s fairy tale. Besides, we are working on Valery Zalotukha’s The Last Communist. The play will be exclusive, we are making it with the author’s personal permission. The Last Communist is a story about life, about all of us, about the state our country is in today. It answers many questions. We are also planning to work on the operetta Silva and Maxim Gorky’s play Vassa Zheleznova. We cannot release ten plays a season, this is an obsolete point of view. There are theatres that are still proud to have many premieres. But what matters most is not the number of new shows but the number of viewers that come to watch them. Let it be one lion than ten hyenas. Every flopped performance compromises a theatre.

Q: How did the idea to stage the operetta Silva in a drama theatre come up?

A: We do have musicals in the repertoire, that have many musical scenes. If we work, it is a dramatic performance, not the kind of a musical you see Philip Kirkorov play in, for instance. Our musical plays are based on serious literature. They are the Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, Fiddler on the Roof by Shalom Aleichem and The Fatal Eggs by Mikhail Bulgakov - this is all real literature. Silva has beautiful music. Is it bad when a dramatic actor discovers some new expressive means? It is great. It is interesting for actors to learn to do something they have not done.

Q: For a theatre to exist and develop support of the authorities is needed, is this right?

A: No doubt, without the support of the republic we would not have been able to do anything. We are lucky, our region is a special one. The authorities understand that contributing to art is contributing to the nation’s gene pool, to the society’s spiritual element. They try to help theatres here. We are not begging and are not in need. This is what is most important.

Q: What will your tour itinerary be in the anniversary season?

A: We are going on a small tour in November, to the Turkey’s two largest cities, Ankara and Istanbul. We are taking The Queen of Spades there. Early in January, a theatre from Turkey will come here on tour. Late in October we will go to Yaroslavl, where will show The Uncle’s Dream.

Q: How has the Kazan theatre viewer changed over the recent few years? Has there become more people going to theatres?

A: There used to be an organised and strictly accounted for tour itinerary. Nowadays it happens rather spontaneously. For example, we open the season in September. Besides, the Tovstonogov BDT, Moscow Artistic Academic Theatre and Cirque du Soleil are on tour here as well, but the viewers’s pockets are not bottomless. The viewer has certainly changed. On the one hand, they can now see more, but on the other one needs to ask what it is they see, what guest companies bring along for them, especially non-repertory ones. Unfortunately, it is not always a quality product.

Q: The Theatre on Bulak has for a second season been active in Kazan. What do you think of it?

A: To be called a theatre, one first of all needs to have a creative idea. As of now it is rather a theatrical club. It is a good thing that people do this. There are many young people there, and the fact that they do not drink, smoke or take drugs is pleasing. And I will definitely get interested in their work if I see a creative concept.

Q: Have all of your students who have this year been certified as actors stayed to work for the Kachalov theatre?

A: Of course, all the 17 are employed here. I assumed the responsibility to teach, gave four years of my life to my students. I would spend three hours a day in classes. I did not do it for money, but to raise proficient actors. I fostered them for myself, not for other theatres.

Q: Would you like to train one more theatrical class?

A: Not just yet. Teaching is a very complex and demanding task. I can say with a clear conscience I gave all my soul to my students. I want to direct plays, I have quite a few ideas.

IA "Tatar-inform", September 14, 2010