Not about the ageAutor: Lyudmila Filatova
Source: «Planeta Krasota», No. 9–10, 2010
We love to talk much about the heroes of anniversaries. «Oh, he is so young in heart! In his sixty (seventy, eighty… etc.) years he is just a boy!» The congratulations are too often turn into the clich? compliments, but I don’t want to say them on the day when this remarkable director celebrates his anniversary. First of all, Dolgachev and banality are two opposites. Second, and more important, the maturity, integrity and clarity of the outlook (the outlook of a MATURE man) are the exact things that make us adore him and his theatre. I must admit, having visited the New Drama for the first time, I was amazed with the unusual and long-forgotten feeling of harmony, or you may say the inner peace; I was been talked with like I was their equal, they told me about the ordinary human things from the stage, without screams and strain, without savouring the pathology, without distorting the basic notions and without manipulating my reactions as a spectator. Would you call this hypocrisy, narrow-mindedness and conservatism? No, this is the good education, civility and experience. It is not a banality, it is a NORM.
Perhaps this is the main feature of the Vyacheslav Dolgachev’s mastery in directorship — a sense of norm. Now, that I’ve just written these words I thought if I have offended the man of the day. Will it be understood as a lack of artistic «breakthroughs», fantasies and experiments? None the less, it is worth to take one glance at the New Drama’s repertoire billboard; perhaps it is unique in its variety (from classical pieces to the ‘New drama’, from Schiller and Chekhov to Mishima, Volodin and Pryazhko). It is also worth to meet their company, the huge proportion of which are the young and promising people, to get rid of all the doubts. Nevertheless, I’ll try to elaborate.
The notion of the NORMAL is altogether discredited in our days, and this is no wonder when the total infantilism penetrates all spheres of literature, theatre, and more importantly cinema, where almost everything is oriented towards the «teenager type» of mentality. What may be more horrible for a teenager than a norm? In his or her mind this is a synonym of the drabness, and they are afraid «to be like others». But this theatre sobers us and helps us, spectators, to retain our confidence in something firm and eternal. A family that must be The Family («Mothers and Daughters»); The Love that must be devoid of perversions («Nastasya Filippovna», «Taibele and Her Daemon»)… yes, so old-fashioned and seemingly clich?d themes — but how unequivocally, daringly and at the same time unobtrusively, the directors tells them. Whatever is his material, Dolgachev is true to his position, he constructs his performances plain and sharp, be it a play «based on…» or a playing with a play… You can always tell for sure what is right and what is wrong here. Nevertheless, this doesn’t cancel the non-standard formal moves and originalities — Dolgachev seriously name Brook and Strehler as his teachers for a good reason…
The young age is beautiful, nobody denies that, but it should not be confused with irresponsibility and the childish desire «to escape from reality» (into fantasies, imagined worlds, sandbox, or better into mom’s hands). In one of our talks about the modern theatre Dolgachev called it as «the rampage of the pimpled puberty». You can enjoy looking at teenagers cutting bellies of cats and dogs and thinking they challenge the God, if you like, but in the New Drama they are up to another things. It is said that the main condition of a director’s professionalism is a sense of time… and in this sense any Dolgachev’s production is professional. Take for example the text of «The Robbers"by Schiller; without any corrections it sounds ultra modern: how come that the seemingly ordinary children grow into cynical terrorists? Or «A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur» by Williams; its genre is a little bit offset, at first sight this is melodrama, but if you look closer it is a contemplation about personal development in search for your own place in the world of half-childish illusions. And no pompous scenographic details, no extra fads are necessary. The minimal showness, any object is functional here, but it grows to a metaphorical meaning sometimes (remember the throne-chair of Old Moor at the foreground, or the eerie well in «Taibele» where nobody drank water from it). To keep the sense of proportion, to cut off all «bells and whistles» relentlessly, for the sake of a single mise-en-sc?ne that literally burst the body of a play and release the dramatic tension in an effective way. Do you remember the stabbing final scene of the «Daughters» and the ballerinas in snow-white tutus?
In particular I would mention what many usually feel shy to talk about; this is an ability to make a realistic sketch with actors, when an inconspicuous gesture, a jingling intonation, a bend of a head reveal not only the psychological state but also the whole biographical layer of a character. Dolgachev works with actors hard and perhaps at great length. It may be Stanislavsky system, I don’t know. But how often do the audience recognize the true relationships in the actors play: this is exactly how an unloving husband behaves, or a jealous girl, or an offended friend?.. And how often you may discern a point of view of an Adult Man behind «a picture»; an Adult man who is ironical and so wise, who is able to talk with you without tedious preaching, who can calm you and let you know that you are not alone.
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