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Theatre preview

The Tenth Chekhov International Theatre Festival
The Tempest staged by Declan Donnellan with Russian actors is to open the Festival on 25 May. It will be followed by the best of modern theatre from Italy and Spain as part of the cultural programme of the Italy–Russia and Spain–Russia year.
Elena Rubinova

It’s hard to say who knows the productions of Declan Donellan and theatre designer Nick Ormerod better: the international or the Russian public.

Earlier productions staged by the British Cheek by Jowl Theatre under the auspices of the Chekhov International Festival, with an internationally renowned Russian ensemble, have included Twelfth Night, The Three Sisters and Boris Godunov. They were highly popular both in Russia and in the West and in this regard, it seems a logical decision for a new stage version of The Tempest to be opening this year’s Chekhov International Festival. The performance has already been an impressive success in Paris and London and it’s almost guaranteed that the Moscow public will flock to see its favourite Russian actors, Igor Yasulovich and Alexander Feklistov. A forceful new production might also turn out to be especially appealing to the Russian audience because Donnellan’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s play concentrates on forgiveness rather than revenge, and can be seen to address Russia’s tragic 20th century history.

The last Chekhov International Theatre Festival was solely dedicated to the legacy of Anton Chekhov because his 150th anniversary was widely celebrated around the globe. This year’s summer theatrical marathon will be dominated by Italian and Spanish theatre. The crisis, which just won’t leave, has forced festival organizers to exclude the most expensive and large scale performances. Be that as it may, Valeri Shadrin, General Manager of the festival, says, “We have done our best to keep the essential performances and thus give a full picture to our audience“.

The Russian public will see the cream of modern Italian avant-garde theatre and the best of Spanish dance and ballet. The first name to be mentioned is the outstanding Italian director and theatre practitioner, Romeo Castellucci, who will bring his recent performance, Velo Nero del Pastore (Minister’s Black Veil), to Moscow. This is a theatre fantasy based on a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a minister who always faces his parish wearing a black veil. The director investigates the theme of darkness. For him “Moscow has always been a city with a lot of meanings and the image of Malevich’s Black Square inspired some of his artistic ideas”. Next on the Italian side is Sicilian director Emma Dante’s Trilogy of Glasses. Emma is the founder of independent Theatre Sud Costa Occidentale, and has earned quite a reputation for herself for her symbolism and innovation.

However it is Spanish theatre that is probably going to make the biggest impression. The most notable performance is promised by the famous flamenco dancer, choreographer and director, Maria Pages. She claims her show called Autorretrato (Self-Portrait) was inspired by a meeting with Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov in 2006, when he visited Madrid. The passionate language of flamenco is creatively fused with modern dance language by six dancers and nine musicians on stage. They say that in the end of June, Baryshnikov himself may visit the festival.

In July, the National Dance Theatre of Spain is likely to repeat its triumph last year in Moscow with two new programs of one-act ballets, Gnawa, Flockwork, White Darkness and Noodles, where the exceptional talent of Nacho Duato, the theatre’s chief choreographer, is enhanced by his colleagues Alexander Ekman and Phillippe Blanchard. Theatre Comediants of Barcelona will present a production of Persephone directed by Juan Font.

The Chekhov Festival will run for two months (May 25-July 31) and is to be held at various venues across the city—at traditional places such as Mossovet Theatre and the Meyerhold Centre as well as on some new stages.

The full program of the festival in English can be found on its website 

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