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Vyacheslav Dolgachev
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Vyacheslav Dolgachev: «If there are sweets everywhere, someone has to make a normal food»

Autor: Interview by Tatyana Kupchenko
Source: «Teatralnaya kassa», No. 11, 2010

- The name itself, the New Drama Theatre, sounds like it is some newly formed company. Nevertheless, the theatre is 35 years old. Even you have been working here for ten years, and before you there were interesting directors with different aesthetical programmes. Not all visitors know that the walls here are imbued with the serious theatrical tradition.

- Boris Alexandrovich Lvov-Anokhin, who was the leader of the theatre before me, was a very well-known director. It was him who made the Stanislavsky Drama Theatre famous. His productions in the Maly Theatre were absolutely amazing, and they became a part of the golden fund of the Maly Theatre. Here, in this theatre at the outskirts of the city, he brought with him his peculiar aesthetics and refinement. He used to invite famous actors: Vera Vasilyeva, Spartak Mishulin. He thought it would attract the audience. When I came to the theatre I also made the same: I invited my favourite actors Lev Durov and Boris Shcherbakov. Later Vyacheslav Nevinny. But I did it not just in order to attract the audience, I rather wanted to show local actors what is meant by the high level, what is the school. Because after Lvov-Anokhin’s death they didn’t have an artistic director for two years and the company lost their form. I needed them to develop. My task was to grow my own actors. In our days some actors turn into ice skaters, ice skaters become actors… This is not a professionalism.

- Indeed, many mix up show business and theatre now. For the unsophisticated audience it’s pretty much one and the same…

- This is why I decided to grow my own actors. It is absolutely not important if they are filmed in TV shows. Although, unfortunately, some of them are filmed in TV soap operas, and others are filmed in serious movies. But it doesn’t define the essence of our theatre. I am proud to have grown a good company of young actors for these ten years. They are drama actors who like to work in a theatre. Here they became popular. They have their admirers; some people ask if there are particular actors in this or that play. This is exactly what should be around a drama theatre. I don’t want to engage actors just for the image or advertising. If I ever want a famous actor, it would be because of the artistic reasons. We have full halls even without famous actors.

- The audience likes comedies, as a rule; people want to laugh…

- That’s what I cannot do. Switch to the first or the second channel. You may laugh without going out of you home.

- Then how do you retain your audience?

- The desire to laugh turns out to be only the first one. Then, after you have laughed, a question arises: why do you hear all those silly jokes, if they don’t lead you anywhere? You get vitamins, this is also important, but there may be an overdose too. I knew the founder of this theatre, Viktor Karlovich Monyukov. Once we met at the tour of the New Drama in Yalta, we were drinking coffee in plain glasses in some Soviet coffee bar. And he told me the remarkable phrase: if you come touring to a town and there are many sweets around, it means there is nothing to eat in that town. This is the answer for you question you’ve just asked. The laughter is sweets. If there are sweets everywhere, someone has to make a normal food. That’s what we do.

- For this season you have planned serious premiers: “The Trial” by Sukhovo-Kobylin, “The Harvest” by rather popular modern playwright Pryazhko, then “The Ages of the Moon” by Sheppard, Bergmann.

- “The Trial” is one of my most favourite plays. Actually I like all the trilogy. But I think the time now has come specially for “The Trial”. The audience knows it less, and I think, it hadn’t had the great stage success. “Krechinsky's Wedding” and “Tarelkin’s Death” are more popular. But when I was reading “The Trial” before the company, all were shocked with the actuality of the depicted actions, as if it was written not by some Sukhovo-Kobylin from the history of the theatre, but by a modern playwright.

- But the language of Sukhovo-Kobylin is quite archaic already…

- Before going to the company we’ve made our own redaction. We’ve taken away some archaic language. Abridged it a little – the performance will last only two hours with entr’acte.

- Who did the adaptation?

- Our wonderful literary director Evgeny Vasilyevich Vikhrev. In the foreword we found a phrase that became the genre name: “the drama, torn away with blood from the most real life”. This is really so. That lawless mayhem among our bureaucrats is coming up to the very top, to the leaders of our country. It is time to reduce the number of officials. There was a meeting of several directors with the president, and critic Grigory Zaslavsky wrote a remarkable article in the “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” where he expresses his disappointment. I understand that the theatre is not top priority for the president of our country, but at least he has much to do with the law. But all new laws are made just to strangle everyone. The aim of the art is the spiritual development of the nation. The art works with what are the people, how do they perceive themselves in this world. Of course, the art is a creative activity, it is not a manufacturing process, as we are forced to think. At the rehearsals we don’t say that the working day is over, as they do in America. When the opening night is getting closer everybody keeps working without limits. And we get minimal payment for that. Now we are being limited from the outside, all around. So the play “The Trial” also concerns the problems of our life and the problems of the theatre.

- Will be there modern or historical costumes?

- For the second time I try to make a production where the audience should not notice the costumes. It means they are not neither historical not modern. They are just so. This is a symbiosis of the place and the time, where everything is quite historical but not archaic. Our designer Vladimir Kovalchuk was deeply interested in this task. His work in “Children of the Sun” is very curious, the style as well as the material. There everything is mixed and intertwined in time too. From one hand Gorky, from the other the modern days.

- “The Trial” is a classical play, but the second play, “The Harvest” is very modern. Pavel Pryazhko is the most fashionable playwright at the moment.

- I was even amazed. I didn’t follow his successes and how he occupied Moscow, but I was driving in the city and saw – there is “The Field” in the School of Modern Play; we have “The Harvest”. Everything that is talented gets loose sooner or later. Pryazhko has a very acute sense of reality, literally at the edge, and he brings this into his dramas. “The Life is a Success” received the Golden Mask in the last season; I think it is quite a controversial and contradictory play, it is also difficult for watching. I could hardly watch it and could hardly listen to the text respectively. When I go out and watch pairs of lovers, and the girls are swearing and saying mostly the obscene words all the time, it doesn’t make a positive impression upon me. But Pryazhko makes this absolutely unprintable text an organic part of his play. To bring all this to the stage, especially if there are teenagers in the audience, I consider this almost a crime. Because everything shown on the TV or on the stage becomes a norm. I think making obscenities the norm is dangerous for the society.

- There is few of this in “The Harvest”, and besides the director is not you, but Narkas Iskandarova.

- This is my student. This play is closer to her according to all parameters. Just due to her generation. But she has the same attitude to this problem. In spite of her young age she is rather adult inside, and she understand that society can degrade easily.

- What type of theatre do you like?

- The psychological one. This is my love for ever. I think the less actors around, and the more actions goes through the energy, the more interesting. For example, the Sheppard’s play that we are preparing now is very difficult. Two men are sitting on the large stage and drink whisky. Nothing happens. No music, no noises. They just sit and talk. I hope there will be people who will find this interesting.

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