Vyacheslav Dolgachev: The pursuit of well-to-do life led to the crisisAutor: Eudoikia Kiseleva
Source: Newspaper Kultura, No. 39 (7702) October 8–15, 2009
The 3 of October in Moscow was the start of 35th anniversary season of the New Drama Theater. The opening night was the play «Top Dogs, or The New Adult Games» by Swiss writer Urs Wiedmer. The artistic director of the theater Viacheslav Dolgachev obtained the exclusive rights for staging this documentary based work. The main theme of the play is a search for the exit from the crisis dead end.
Are you going to celebrate the jubilee of your theatre somehow?
No. First of all the celebration requires the financial expenses and we are all in the crisis. Besides the date is not so round. This is rather our inner holiday. We just have to work hard and to do it well.
The theme of the financial crisis is so popular today. What were your motives when you decided to stage the work of Urs Widmer?
You can hardly call it an opportunistic choice. The play «Tog Dogs» is very difficult and absolutely non-commercial. The more difficult is to perform it. It has absolutely no plot. This is the fragments of the group therapy in chronological order. And the audience have to monitor the minute changes in the behaviour and psychology of the people who attend those classes. The key feature here is that they lost their job. It is interesting to observe the changes in the human behaviour during the cardinal crisis in their lives. According to the psychologists this is the time of the most peculiar things that are reflected in the families of those persons. Nobody thinks that after having lost the job the only thought will be about it.
When the play was written?
Seven years ago, when there was not a slightest hint of the crisis. Perhaps it is an author’s prevision, a kind of insight. Perhaps in Switzerland with their stable bank systems they see it more clearly that the world is not so stable as it seems.
You surely wouldn’t have noticed the play, if there hadn’t been for the crisis…
It is difficult to say. I came across it a year ago, when the crisis was only starting. And it amazed me, because it was written before it. It’s genre is a documentary drama. The shorthand notes of the speech of those who attend the group therapy and the do the exercises under supervision of a psychologist. The characters pronounce their monologues, their confessions of a kind.
Do you think that the theatrical involvement can help people along with similar classes?
To a certain extent we can help people to find their new awareness in the new circumstances. The goals are changing as well as the moral compass. People attend those classes in order to regain their mental health that had failed due to the shocking situation. They strive to regain the inner peace and to get a job in a new place. But while visiting this therapy they change their goals. Some of them question the necessity of this job, they think over their life. It was obviously their job that led us to the situation we are now in.
Well, what is the main formula of salvation?
There are no definite formulas. This is the question of revising the goals and ambitions. The present economical crisis may be the result of the human behaviour in the last twenty years. What were the trends of the society? To buy and sell, to gain profit. The pursuit of well-to-do life changes the inner values and mutates the human mind. If the measure of all that there is in society was money, then it is money that lead us to the crisis, be it in the family, inside the person, in the politics, in the economics.
The typical human condition of this moment is a depression, isn’t it?
In the beginning of the play the majority of those who enter the class are in the state of deep depression. A robust man, one of the characters, cannot stop crying. He keeps shedding tears and can’t help doing it.
Your characters are people who ascended a certain top and fell down?
Top dogs is a term for most eager dogs, and accordingly for people who grasped all they could and got to the top of the official pyramid. They are high-ranked specialist. And they lost everything. For some of them their family is the only thing that left. And the man begins to understand what is the most valuable thing in his life. The wife he had beaten after having lost his job, brings him coffee in bed next morning.
Do you think this draws the interest of the audience?
It all depends on how we can attract attention and make a magnetic field on the stage. We have a different audience. I cannot say our hall is full of top managers and top dogs. But this is not important in this case. The author scrutinizes the people who lost everything, and they level of income and their way of life are not relevant. The people who lose the lesser amount feel the same confusion and don’t know how to live further. The crisis is a situation of the test when a person revaluates everything. We clutch our heads, we don’t know what to do, but it broadens our abilities, it prevent us from stagnating. There was a crisis of the end of 90-s, and the transition from one social system to another was difficult too. The threshold situation, as psychologists call it, compels us to make cardinal decisions.
Is there a reflection of the crisis in the theatre? The layoffs are everywhere, but you took six new members into your company…
The resolution of the Moscow government concerning young specialists allows us to recruit new actors. We didn’t cut the number of new productions, four for a season. We work beyond our abilities. We don’t outsource anything, we make everything by ourselves, considering we have good masters who make all, up to the historical dresses. The allocated funds are only enough to make one production, but we make four. Sometimes we want to cry, but we have to work on and to stifle our imagination due to the financial restrains. Now we pay a part of the facilities from our own ticket sales. We have no practical possibility to draw sponsors, being located almost in the forest, far away from the centre. The sponsors are only for the brand theatres such as MKhAT with their stars.
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