Ariadna Vasilyeva – is a Tashkent author of novels, short stories, fairy tales, and a playwright. She is known at home and abroad by her novel "Return to emigration" based on real events, and by performances in the capital's theaters. The whiter talks about little-known facts from the life of her works in an exclusive interview to Uzbekistan Today: mysticism, meetings with the characters, working with directors, and personal animosity to the requirements of "Ilkhom" theater.
– Tell us about the way to reader as it appears today?
– It has changed a bit with the development of the Internet. Publishing a traditional book is very expensive. The cost of the product is not low; the price is so high that a publication is not sold out in retail. And publishers today begin on replication under the condition that the customer, i.e. author, will buy the edition in full. I am published in the "Star of the East" magazine, but the audience is strongly limited with the circulation and subscribers. The way out of the situation is the Internet. I have my own author's site where I place my works. People read – more than ten million downloads in a short period, and electronic libraries reprint as well.
I use all the ways. I publish book versions of my works even here, in Tashkent printing houses, by tiny editions of just a few copies. It is pleasant to see book version – work becomes some kind of finished. The first part of the third book of "Return to emigration" novel has recently come out. The book is about Family of General Voronovskiy, who emigrated to France in 1920 and returned to the USSR later. Initially I wanted to finish the novel with the third book, but in the course it swelled to such extent that I decided to publish it in two parts, and I continue working on the second book.
Today, not only author comes to publisher, but also vice versa. I had such experience with the Canadian Altaspera. I do not even know what it is: an electronic library or a publishing house. The company has posted the novel "Return to emigration" on its website and produced its book version; I have one copy for me by the way. The publication has appeal to the reader, which says that if you want to buy a printed version, contact the publisher - print on request. But it costs $30, which is very expensive, even by the standards of developed countries. My friends from America and France took advantage of this opportunity and bought printed versions, but they told that the book will not be in great demand for this price. Expensive, what can you do.
As for the Internet, the work is interesting. My novel "Return to emigration" is "alive", even mystical to some extent, my characters back to me alive – there are a lot of feedbacks.
– For example, tell us about these cases. . . .
– People who are engaged in research and study of the historical events described in the novel contact me, and such communication is very useful, especially for me. For example, a Russian historian established contact with me, who deal with study of the Vorkuta uprising. Despite that all names and last names of characters are changed in the novel, he took the character of Voronovskiy for Baronovskiy officer. This is a real person who is my great-grandfather on top of that. Our family learned a lot about the great-grandfather from communication with the researcher, particularly, about the number of orders which he was awarded, his ranks and titles, about how he grew up through the ranks. We did not know this information, because the mother was a little girl when their separated. At the same time the researcher got interesting information from us, including several pictures.
Here is another case. My son called me one day and said, Mom you remember a man Krasovskiy, he is a general described in your novel. I told him, "Where did you get it?" And he answered, "He is sitting in front of me now." However, it was the son of General - George Krasovskiy, which we know well. He traveled to Tashkent to visit his friend that time, where he met my son. His family was founders of a sports club in France, in which our family, being in emigration, used to play volleyball. After a while Krasovskiy visited our apartment. My mother was alive, and they talked for a long time with him. If this meeting took place somewhere in the street, they would not know each other, but in these circumstances they looked closer at each other, chatted. Later he helped us to find relatives in France, contact with which was lost. After some time, mother's cousin called and came to us to Tashkent. My second cousin from France has recently come.
– In fact, why did you come to write this novel?
– First of all, it is a tragedy of my family, I have lived in this material, and all that is described is real events. Many of that I saw with my own eyes, a lot - from the stories of mother, parents. And I decided to write, because I can do it, I have certain skills. I want it to remain in people's minds, so that they know the true history.
– You are known as a playwright as well. How has it happened so that, while working on a historical novel, you have been engaged in theater?
– I wrote the novel not all the time, between writing I wrote other works and did not think of drama. And in 1981, I wrote the novel "Autumn birds’ time" about the stagnant life and how things were that time. The first reader was a famous Tashkent poet Alexander Feinberg, by the way, we went to school together with him one time. He looked it up and said that it will not be published due to the acridity. He said that a play lied in this novel, and if I’d swept the prose and left the play, it would be much more chances to publish it.
And I did it, I started going to the Writers' Union, the Ministry of Culture. In general, everyone agreed that the play is good, but it did not go further. I began to wonder what the matter was, and the answer was that we had an expert, Alexander Rybnik, who literally "shoot" all playwrights, and they did not want it to be with me. Then I realized that the publication will not happen. I addressed to the theater, now it is called the Russian Drama Theatre of Uzbekistan. The chief director responded, "Do you want they put me?" So it was left to lie useless until the autumn.
A phone call from the Writers' Union sounded suddenly. They told me to come urgently with the play at the gathering of young writers in Durmen. There my play came to the very same Rybnik for reading, and he gave a positive review. The play was bought by the Ministry of Culture, I remember when I was paid 2000 rubles for it - it was fabulous money enough to pay off all debts. I was happy. But there was silence, no theater took the play.
I took the initiative and brought it to the Theatre for Young People, the Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan today. I remember literary manager finally convinced me that it would not work. He said, "It is professional, qualitative, but too acrid." And he asked to write a Christmas tale to soothe me somehow - this was the start of my work in theater, in the future I even had a chance to work as a literary manager in the Youth Theatre.
"Autumn birds’ time" novel and play on it have left lying unclaimed. I decided to return to this work in 2012: I re-edited it, finished two chapters, which I could not write for political reasons in Soviet times. And after a while the novel was published in the "Star of the East" magazine, where previously I was assured that this novel would have never been published in the magazine.
– And was the partnership with theaters as a storyteller quite effective?
– This is largely due to the remarkable director Georgiy Mustafin. He put my tales in the Youth Theatre not only in Russian, but in the State Drama Theater in Uzbek language, which at that time bore the name of A. Khidoyatov. It was the 2000s. In total, I have three stories, and they were all in demand by theaters, demonstrated for years, and were took off the repertoire when they were so hoar that people stopped see them.
The work on a fairy tale named Shin Hsien, written at the request of Mustafin, was unusual and interesting. He has also lived in exile, where he has studied Chinese culture, and even spoke Chinese. So, he gave me intonation, "In one of Chinese villages people are preparing for wedding, they bake pies, cook meals, bring polan with a bride, opens it and the bride is not there...", and then he told me to write what I want. The staging got a great success. Georgiy Mustafin came to me and said, "You know, audience rise in applause in the theater of A. Khidoyatov. It is the first time I see such a success. . . ."
– And now, only "Our Maysara" remained on stage?
– I do not know, to be honest, I was not interested. "Our Masaru" was put in the Operetta Theater.
– It still run there . . .
– Really?! That’s great! I treat plays like children: we put it, it runs, then that’s it - the child gown up, let it go into a separate swimming. There are no fees for displays anyway.
"Our Maysara", by the way, has also an interesting story. I did not think to write it. This was prompted by Boris Babayev. I was inspired by reading "Maysara’s tricks" of Khamza. But I wrote a completely new play. The only thing our works has in common is the theme of Maysara and names of the characters, the stories are different. I offered it to "Ilkhom", they told me to modernize it, according to their opinion, Maysara was supposed to be the mistress of a teahouse, it was necessary to rewrite it in modern youth language. I refused believing that Maysara should be a classic character with traditional text and language. I do not really support modern adaptations. Later I got a proposal from the operetta theater. We started work with director Kaprielov; at his request, the play was a little improved. I liked the way we put it on. I liked the luxury costumes - stylized Uzbek national clothes. Sight for sore eyes. The performance worked out well
– And what are you working on now?
– My story "Stone of Saidberdi" to be published in the next editions of "Star of the East". It's about a camping trip in the Central Asian mountains. Honestly, I wrote it a long time, and I knew that the "Star of the East" will publish it, so I was waiting.
I’m finishing on the second part of the third book of "Return to emigration" novel, readers are waiting for end of the story.