On Friday, November 11, the XXVI International Theater Festival of F. M. Dostoevsky ended in the Novgorod region. In Veliky Novgorod, it was closed by the performance of the Sakhalin International Theater Center named after A.P. Chekhov “Meek” – one of the strongest productions of the program.
“The Meek” is a work in which the end is known in advance: the young wife of a pawnbroker commits suicide by going out the window. This is the event that the widower tries to understand, walking around the room, where on the table still lies a weak dead body in a green dress: but tomorrow he will be taken away, and – how can I be left alone? .. “.
It is the audience who catches the character behind the attempts to “collect thoughts to a point”: he appears on the stage even before the performance begins – as if lost in time due to distraction. Time stopped, deeds and actions ended, then – only a cry in the silence: “I am not guilty! It’s her fault! Not me!..”.
He will try to convey this idea in different expressions to all his interlocutors who appear on the scene: to the policeman who takes the testimony; casual drinking buddy; the priest who will bury the deceased.
They will all be silent in response. Only she will speak – or a memory, or a ghost, or a hallucination. Together they will tell a story: blaming each other for everything, despising and adoring at the same time. And yes, love. Refined, painful, unhealthy – in a word, fatal, as always with Dostoevsky. Within two and a half hours on the stage we will see tender hugs, nervous attacks, fights and even striptease under the music of the band Piknik.
“I won. She was defeated forever,” the main character will say smugly at some point. Say and be wrong. There will be no winners in this war.
As the story unfolds, we will observe how the space around the characters changes, how the orderly world is eaten away by chaos. At the beginning of the performance we are presented with a poor but cleanly arranged room in which everything is arranged except for the terrible table in the background. Towards the end, the back of the stage becomes a huge frame without an icon, where instead of the faces of the Mother of God and the Savior there is a black void. An eerie cage-like structure of pipes and fittings hangs above the stage. Water was spilled on the floor, money, clothes, chairs, empty bottles were scattered everywhere, as if after a search… And dolls. Lots of dolls. The largest, a mannequin in a green dress, is still lying on the table. This is the central image of the entire performance, and the authors have chosen the appropriate soundtrack – the song “Doll with a human face”.
The world seems to be split in two
Behind blue glass windows
Silently Crying Sexless Mannequin –
A doll with a human face.
Asks on lonely nights
He asks heaven for one thing:
So the fire from the primordial spark
It burned in his heart…
This is a story about how any fire lit will be extinguished with a bath of cold water. The fact that people are proud and cruel. And about how everyone had their right and truth, and in the end it came to a catastrophe. And it will all end with the tapping of a hammer on the lid of the coffin and a whisper creeping from the corners where the darkness lives: “There is only one left … One … One …”. You won. It’s not your fault, it’s hers. But now you can only tell the doll lying on the table about it. And even then – until they take him away.
From November 4 to 11, the theater festival named after FM Dostoevsky was held. During this time, 260 festival participants visited Novgorod Oblast – representatives of 19 theater groups from different regions of Russia, as well as from the Republic of Belarus. On four stages in Veliky Novgorod and Stara Rusa, they presented 21 productions – classical and puppet shows, dance performances and even “intellectual stand-up”. The performances of the festival program were watched by more than 5 thousand spectators.
“Our festival started in 1992. These days it turned 30 years old. Over the years, we managed to go from a festival of chamber performances to a large-scale international project”, Anatoly Ustinov, chairman of the Novgorod branch of the Union of Theater Actors of the Russian Federation, summarized the results. “But no numbers can measure the colossal contribution to the development of the human soul that our participants have made, paving with their creativity the bridge between the public and the works of the greatest writer.”
The opening of the next Dostoevsky festival is scheduled for November 4, 2023.
Photo: Lyudmila Stepiko.