As Russia’s oldest national theatre, the Alexandrinsky stage has always been the place to perform the works of the important contemporary writers. In that respect, the new performance of Marat Gatsalov of a latest novel of a famous Russian contemporary writer continues this Alexandrinsky Theatre tradition.
The 2013 novel by Vladimir Sorokin is undoubtedly one of the most important literary events of the year, making the best-seller list in a short time and being included in the short-lists of several important literary prizes. The range of those prizes is also eloquent: the novel was nominated both as science fiction and intellectual prose.
Marat Gatsalov chose Telluria as the literary base for his first Alexandrinsky Theatre New Stage performance. The novel was adapted for stage by Ekaterina Bondarenko. This is how Gatsalov explains his choice and the director’s view: I realised I wanted to stage Telluria after reading the preview of the book: if I may say so, I ‘bought’ the key hashtags at once: dystopia, new Middle Ages, the mosaic structure of the text. On reading Telluria I only confirmed my decision: I was passionate about trying the material which at first sight appeared impossible to be staged in a theatre.
From the beginning it was evident that Sorokin’s novel is impossible to stage the way it is – by creating a nine-hour epic, reconstructing one chapter after another, introducing centaurs, crusaders, giants and dwarves. We finally arrived at the decision, which was not only consistent with the letter and spirit of the book, but was its logical theatrical equivalent with a similar structure and complex relationship between the author and his work. In this respect, it was of primary importance for me to create a team effort for joint creative work with the Alexandrinsky Theatre actors with whom I worked for the first time and whose open attitude and professionalism immediately won me over. The degree of intellectual discussions on Telluria rehearsals was exceptionally high.
The performance premiered on September 26, 2014.
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Breaking conventions appears to be Gatsalov’s Telluria’s main agenda. The director examines the mutant in all its aspects, and is very close in his constant endeavor to the theatrical and completely illusory Sorokin’r reality.
Kristina Matvienko. Alexandrinsky Theatre Stages Vadimir Sorokin’s Telluria
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, September 2014
Gatsalov preserves the out-of-focus character and polyphony of Sorokin’s prose. Similar to the way that Sorokin eschews narrative integrity, Gatsalov breaks the plot down into multiple versions. And the impossibility of painting a single exhaustive picture of reality may be far more important to the director than the many political predictions that the novel possibly contains.
Anton Khitrov. Vladimir Sorokin’s Telluria Understaged in the Alexandrinsky Theatre.
Vedomosti, September 2014