Pushkin happened. Is Pushkin not for us?
Can "Eugene Onegin" and modern theater be compatible? Yes, it can. Pushkin is for us. Three centuries lie between us and Pushkin and yet his work remains relevant to modern soceity.
Those were my thoughts, coming out of the theater, after watching the first touring performance “Pushkin Stand up!” by the famous "ARTiShOK" from Kazakhstan.
Scene. One actor. Two chairs. Text. That’s all.
Minimalism in the scenery. Minimalism in the text. Minimalism in the mind.
It might seem that nothing surprises us anymore. How can such asceticism of stage, impress a sophisticated audience? It all happed before on the stage of “Ilkhom”. It was raining behind the wall and there was a stir in the Tortilla Flat quarter, one could hear hypnotic melodies of seven moons and witness incidents at the zoo. In short, the viewer spoiled with entertainment, could hardly percieve "ARTiShOK" as something extravagant.
And yet, what do we get after the Stand-up session by “ARTiShOK”? Too much to fit it into this article. We gain a completely new understanding of Pushkin. The genius of this production is in simplicity. After the performance, we think : "Pushkin is true and relevant ". Perhaps, we ourselves have never read "Eugene Onegin" at all, but after seeing the play, we realize its importance.
When I studied at school, and had to read Pushkin, as part of the program, I constantly argued with the teachers, disregarding the genius of the poet, insisting, that the image of Pushkin, as a great writer, is the fruit of the imagination of researchers of his work.
However, after seeing a performance by actress of 'ARTiShOK", Veronica Nasalskaya, I understood how I was wrong.
The actress, in the image of Alexander, spoke to the audience. About Pushkin. About Onegin. About Tatiana. About actions. Thoughts. Feelings. About love, of course.
It might seem strange for a conservative reader, that Pushkin was portrayed by a woman. But the actress " chewed " the scenes from the novel so accurately and spoke so passionately, that nobody even noticed that Pushkin is a woman.
"As one priest wrote in his blog - every girl is obliged to know the letter by Tatiana by heart ... Do you know it?” – Nasalskaya asks the audience. I hear the answers, some read lines from a poem, and some have to admit, that they can’t remember a single verse.
Drawing analogies, Nasalskaya, did not hesitate to declare that Pushkin is not about us. Almost bitterly, she noted that in the bustle, we forget the obvious. In just four pages the actress built the bridge over centuries, screaming and gesticulating about things, which we overlooked in Pushkin.
The familiar corrosive cliché’s: "the great Russian poet”, “Pushkin is a real human”, “The novel's characters - we are with you”, "Eugene Onegin is about us !!!” were cleared out from the minds of the audience.
Despite the fact, that the plays format did not have a dynamic change of scenery, Nasalskaya managed to engage the audience, to experiment, to ask questions.
"Pushkin , stand up! " The phrase springs from the billboards. This phrase is etched in my memory.
Becoming a part of the action, we understand that two minutes of silence in the dialogues of Pushkin's heroes, is a really difficult test, which can be maddening.
Well no. We knew it perfectly. We have all experienced it. We looked, but did not see.
How often are we not sincere in dialogues with our loved ones? How often do we find it hard to accept reality? It is hard to admit that the other person has a different point of view. It is always difficult. Love is a feeling that motivates each of us. And that’s exactly what Pushkin wrote about.
In general, I sincerely apologize to my school teachers and agree to mend! Make sure to read "Eugene Onegin" and this time read it carefully.