AN OPTIMISTIC TRAGEDY. A FAREWELL BALL
with extracts from opuses by A. Blok, S. Witkiewicz, A. Voznesensky, F. Dostoyevsky, A. Makarevich, V. Mayakovsky, P. Yushkov
with extracts from songs by А.Vertinsky, Detsl, A.Lushin, M.Magomayev, B.Okudzhava, V. Solovyov-Sedoy, S. Wonder, Leningrad Band, 5’nizza, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen
The Alexandrinsky Theatre’s current attention to «An Optimistic Tragedy» by Vsevolod Vishnevsky is no accident, because Georgy Tovstonogov’s legendary production was staged here. However, the first performance dates back to 1933, the year when the play was completed: appeared at the stage in Moscow, directed by Alexander Tairov, a founder of Kamerny (Chamber) Theatre. Soon after the premiere the play about 1918's revolutionary events disappeared from the stage. So, its return became very special. Director Tovstonogov and performer Yury Tolubeev (for his role of Leader) were awarded Lenin Prize. Still, one could notice a slight allusion to Tairov’s production. An episode of exceptional emotion was a Farewell ball.
«“An Optimistic Tragedy. A Farewell Ball” is a research performance, which deconstructs the mythology of Soviet era and makes an attempt to cure its metastases.
The legendary 1955 Alexandrinsky production, directed by Tovstonogov, was academic, pompous, and majestic. It gained Vishnevsky’s play a status of a monument to the Soviet regime, turned it into an allegory of struggle between Good and Evil, with all priorities set forever. Yet the play that an ex-seamen Vsevolod Vishnevsky wrote in 1933 for Alexander Tairov (and in collaboration with the latter) grew to a very ambiguous and turbulent text.
The author and theatre company were seeking for modern analogue of antique choir, were experimenting with addressing to theatre audience and hazardous intermedia-discussions on contemporary art, and — most important of all — they grasped the depth of tragedy, steped into the abyss of insolvable contradictions, that only time could solve. Nowadays, the questions aroused in the play sound familiar and urgent too. They cause another wave of grandeur — not because the answers are near, but because there are no answers at all. And this feeling hurts to scream, impossible to silence. The new production is a result of co-work, a blend of original Vishnevsky’s text and XXth century’s illustrative opuses — from Blok and Rosanov to street songs and Russian prison chanson. Directors and performers deliberately irritate each other to extract personal, sympathetic expressions. The myth collapses and leaves bare undisguised conflict». Victor Ryzhakov, Asya Voloshina
PROGRAMME DEDICATED TO VICTOR RYZHAKOV'S 'AN OPTIMISTIC TRAGEDY. A FAREWELL BALL' WITHIN THE FRAMES OF XI INTERNATIONAL ALEXANDRINSKY THEATRE FESTIVAL:
September 15, 7:30 p.m. - 'AN OPTIMISTIC TRAGEDY' - A FILM BY S. SAMSONOV' (LECTURE BY MIKHAIL TROFIMENKOV)
September 15, 8:00 p.m. - 'AN OPTIMISTIC TRAGEDY' - DEMONSTRATION OF 1963 FILM BY S. SAMSONOV
September 17, 4:00 p.m. - 'TO DIE FOR A CONCEPT. THE INSIDES OF A BASICAL SOVIET MYTH' - A DIALOGUE BETWEEN JOURNALIST ANDREI BABITSKI AND HISTORIAN ILYA VENYAVKIN