MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
The new chief director Vladimir Skvortsov and the actors Anatoly Kot and Evgeny Kryukov described how they worked on the play based on the play by the Swiss playwright.
The last premiere of 2018 in the theater “Man” was the play “Biography” by the eponymous semi-fantastic play by Swiss writer and playwright Max Frish. The “Biography” has Russian roots – the idea of creating a play about a person who received the opportunity to live life anew, Frish pushed the monologue of Vershinin, the hero of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, an unhappy military man who met love in the person of one of the Prozorov sisters.
V er sh and n and n (walks on stage). I often think: what if to start life again, moreover, consciously?
If one life, which has already been lived, was, as they say, in outline, the other – completely!
Anton Chekhov. “Three sisters”
What is the play
Ethnology professor Hannes Kürman has a unique opportunity to rewind his life, look at some events from the outside and decide what he would like to change. Does he really want to be a professor? Was he right when he made an offer to his beloved Antunnete? Where is the error, because of which life went wrong?
Otherworldly forces — faceless phantoms in black suits — help Kurman in rewriting his biography. They change reality, giving the professor complete freedom of action. They register all his ideas in a special book, without holding back caustic remarks about the changes he wants to make to his past.
“For the first time I heard this play as a student from my teacher Dmitry Brusnikin, who, by the way, also worked in this theater,” says director Vladimir Skvortsov. – I immediately fell in love with “Biography”. It is written in a very simple language, at the same time it has a mystical component – the perfect combination that I always liked. ”
Behind the simple language of the play lies one of the most difficult stories in the biography of Max Frish himself. Like the protagonist, he himself had to rewrite his “Biography”, which almost cost him a career.
The first version Frisch wrote in 1967. He was already known as the author of the novels “Shtiller” (1954), “Homo Faber” (1957) and “I will call myself Gantenbein” (1964), he was the winner of the Schiller Prize and was considered one of the leading Swiss dramatists.
The premiere of “Biography” in the Schauspielhaus, the most famous German drama theater in Zurich, was scheduled for October 1967. But 10 days before she had a scandal. Frisch quarreled with director Rudolf Noelta, mercilessly making changes to his text. He even tried to sue the director, but he lost, and in February 1968, the Biography was presented to the public. Where Frish had hope, Noelta was hopeless.
Frish felt crushed. Over the next 11 years he has not written a single play. In 1984, he created the second version of “Biography” – with a smaller number of characters and a slightly different plot – in the hope that the directors will not be able to interpret it too freely. The first version he completely forbade showing on the stage. The production of the theater “Man” is based on the 1984 version.
Minimalism and proven team
Professor of ethology is torn between reality and alternative biography on an almost empty stage.
“We have a chamber space, and it does not allow any Babylon to be made on the scene. Everything is rather laconic, I really like minimalism, ”says the director.
The folk artist of Russia Masha Rybasova, whom Skvortsov himself calls a legendary artist, worked on the stage design. Behind her are the performances Reception and Moral of Mrs. Dulskaya at the Mossovet Theater, A Love Story at the Mayakovsky Theater, working with many of the greatest directors. “Biography” is not the first production that she does together with Skvortsov. Prior to this, for example, there was “The Older Sister” at the Et Cetera Theater in 2014, and in 2018 the creative tandem created three more performances, with the exception of “Biography” – this is “Tram’s Desire” for Nizhny Tagil for Norilsk and “Meek” for the private project of the director “SkvortsovTeatr”.
Sergey Skornetsky is responsible for the light score, who in 2015 received the Golden Mask as the best lighting designer for his work in the production “Measure for Measure” of the A.S. Pushkin. The director of plastic – Konstantin Mishin, who has an impressive experience in foreign projects. He helped make performances in Germany, Japan, France, USA. Together with Skvortsov he worked on the play “Orpheus” (Et Cetera), as well as on the “Queen of Spades” and “The Meek”.
Costume Designer became Love Skornetsky – perhaps the only newcomer to the team.
How to work on the production
Auto conceived his work as a play in a play. More precisely, the rehearsal: the protagonist is trying to model his life, looking through his childhood, youth, adult life resemble scenes from the future performance or film.
“At Max Frisch, the action takes place on a certain rehearsal area. But everything is more complicated here: we transferred everything to a mysterious, mystical space, perhaps, purgatory. It is somewhere between life and death, ”says Vladimir Skvortsov.
For the guest artist, starring Anatoly Kota (“The Battle for Sevastopol”, “House Arrest”), participation in the performance was not only a new experience, but also an opportunity to work with Skvortsov again.
“We met with him while working on the play“ We, the undersigned, ”which was rehearsed and shown in Nizhny Tagil, – recalls Kot. – We found a common language even then. And I decided that in the future, I will consider any proposal of Volodya with a plus sign. And when I read “Biography” I got very excited, and when I found out who my partners were, there were no more questions at all – I knew for sure that I wanted to take part in this production. ”
Evgenia Kryukova (“The Key to the Bedroom”, “About Love”, “Anna Karenina”) played the role of the wife of the protagonist. Like her stage partner, she first read Frish’s play after inviting the director.
“When you start reading a work, you seem to understand what it is about. But then, during the analysis, such things are opened that you do not immediately notice. The deeper you immerse yourself in history, the more it opens up for you. The more energy you spend on it, the more it gives you, ”says the actress.
Kryukov remembers rehearsals with pleasure – he says that the atmosphere was almost family-like. The director gave the artists the opportunity to offer something of their own, he considered the multiplicity of interpretations of a particular phrase. During the rehearsal period, those specially invited for the production of Kryukov and Kot managed to make friends with Dmitry Filippov, Muradin Khuranov and Anton Shurtsov, who are members of the troupe of the Man theater.
The nearest shows “Biographies” will be held on January 22, as well as on February 8, 9 and 16. The director warns: at first, each show will be slightly different from the previous one.
“The premiere is only the beginning of our long and interesting journey. Something will necessarily change and be refined, perhaps some moments in the play will be played up by us in a new way, ”he says.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should not be perfect.