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Donka (A Letter to Chekhov)

Donka (A Letter to Chekhov)
Donka (A Letter to Chekhov)
Teatro Sunil (Lugano, Switzerland) Chekhov International Theatre Festival In co-production with Theatre Vidy-Lausanne and Inlevitas Productions (Switzerland)
Written and directed Daniele Finzi Pasca
Musical composer and orchestrations Maria Bonzanigo
Director of creation Antonio Vergamini
Set and accessories designer Hugo Gargiulo
Creative Associate Julie Hamelin
Costumes designer Giovanna Buzzi
Light designer and choreographies Daniele Finzi Pasca
Sound designer and choreographies Maria Bonzanigo
Video designer Roberto Vitalini for <>
Make-up designer and props maker Maria Cristina Barbé Braga
Cyr Wheel inventor Daniel Cyr
Performed by:  Moira Albertalli, Karen Bernal, Helena Bittencourt, Sara Calvanelli, Veronica Melis, 
David Menes, Beatriz Sayad, Rolando Tarquini 
Researcher and director’s assistant  Facundo Ponce de Leon 
Assistant to light designer and technical director on tour Pierfranco Sofia
Tour director and stage manager Alona Umanskaya
Rigger Jens Leclerc
Assistant to sound designer and sound technician on tour Fabio Lecce
Assistant to the set designer Barbara Bedrina
Assistant to the director of creation Miriam Mazza
Photographer Viviana Cangialosi
Graphic designer Michela Grünenfelder-Balmelli
Stagiaires Marzio Picchetti, Pilar Del Campo, Sebastiano Pedrazzini
The orchestra music was recorded by  the Sergei Rakhmaninov Symphony Orchestra (Moscow) at the Mosfilm Tonstudio and was conducted by Maestro Sergei Kondrashev 
Mixing  Alexander Volkov 

The premiere took place in Moscow in January 2, 30, 31, 2010

1st TV channel of Russia, Swiss Airlines, Fabrizio Arigoni, Arkimede, Biblioteca Cantonale de Lugano, Regina Blucher Fondazione Herman Hesse, Sophie Bolduc, Raff aella Bondietti, Mauro Carmine Archivio Cantonale Bellinzona, Francesca Corti, Ente Turistico Lago Maggiore, Simone Filesi, Paul Glass, Tania Gotreaux, Ennio Graber, Roberto Grassi, Kay Leclerc, Lega Polmonare Ticinese, Sergio Lolli, Penelope Margaret Mackworth-Praed, Enrico Manfredini, Gianluca Marchesini, Stefania Morotti, Noemi Noto, Jean Olaniszyn, Massimo Palo, Massimo Pedrazzini, Alessandro Pietrolini, Polivideo SA, Mario Radaelli and Pia Todorovic, Beatrice Reichhart, Gianmaria Rezzonico, Nadine Stefani, Nadir Sutter, Elisa Volonterio

With the support of: The Government of Russian Federation, The Government of Moscow, AIL SA, City of Lugano, Canton of Ticino, Pro Helvetia, Migros Culture Percentage, Ernst Goehner Stiftung, Fidinam SA

I am the collector of moments, small details and subtle nuances. My theatre is the theatre of images that form layers upon layers and not always line up one after another. More often than not they call up specific objects, drop hints and we pretend to believe that all this is happening in real life. I like silence, pauses, the moments of waiting, probably because all these years I have been striving to achieve the sense of lightness on stage. In much the same fashion I approached Chekhov. I was trying to fathom some subtle details and nuances both in the story of his life and in the pages of his works. But this is not all. I wished to give shape to the silence contained in his diaries, to create images on the basis of his notes.

My theatre speaks in the language of clowns and jugglers; it embraces the delicate and magical world of acrobats. With their help I shall invoke the reminiscences about Chekhov and for this purpose I shall keep the company of the artists I have worked with for many years. We share not only the same sense of beauty and the notion of theatre. We share the passionate desire to protect the realm of our imagination.

This play will consist of tragically fragile objects that will be melting slowly like ice in the sun, like wax. Our performers will be keeping their balance in a dangerous dance. There will be clowns, poetic and decadent, yet always unfailingly elegant. There will be live music, played on various instruments, a symphony orchestra and a beautiful choir. There will be plenty of white, probably slightly tinted with light blue. There will be tiny and barely visible drops of blood as symptoms of the ailment that was devouring the writer and tormenting him with fits of coughing. There will be beds in a country clinic, ravens and other birds. There will be the sound of the wind stirring the branches. There will be a child, its chest being burned by fever. There will be sounds of the church bells, patients under bed sheets, actors playing actors... Maybe there will be fire... and loneliness... the orchard, the lake and the tiny bell, its jingling implying that the fish has at last swallowed the bait”. <...>

There is fish that dwells in deep water. You can’t catch it with ordinary fishing rod and a float. What you need is a weighted line for bottom fishing. In Russian they are called “donkas”. That was how we came up with the name for our production – an instrument that Chekhov used when he needed to mull things over
Daniele Finzi Pasca
...Donka is a truly original and associative reading of Chekhov. Danielle Pasca managed to find solution to an enormous problem by translating into reality his entire intuitive and subconscious vision of Chekhov. In this production he touched upon the most painful spots: life and death, life as dying. This is a very oriental kind of perception. Fishing becomes the symbol of fate. <...> Danielle Pasca brought together a brilliant cast of highly professional actors. There seems to be nothing they cannot do. I left the theatre with the feeling that I must reread Chekhov.
Sergei Makarov, «Ekran I Scena»
In “Donka” playing with space using the techniques of theatre of shadows is a typical pictorial nuance. The shadowy figures are whirling around with huge hoops, turn somersaults or dissolve in the sea depicted on the backdrop, transpiercing the line of the horizon. But the best moments in this production are those real circus breaks into play. Three thoughtful sisters on the swing are rocketing above the auditorium every now and then performing impossible somersaults. Chekhov uncoils a female patient who had rolled herself up into a ball. There is even a special term in circus to designate the acrobat capable of knotting their own bodies. In the production of “Teatro Sunil” Chekhov’s poetics is expressed through free and joyous flights of the actors’ bodies. Chekhov’s characters seem to have at last translated their dream of flying like birds into reality.
O. Yegoshina, «Novye Izvestia»
There is the Chekhovian atmosphere which literary critics called ‘quiet glittering of level surfaces, the multiplicity of once-a-minute dramas, the polyphony of voices that don’t blend with each other but produce an unnerving and complex buzz. The actors are rocking on swings, juggling and flying on safety cords. The theatre of shadows gets mixed with videos showing various phenomena of nature which in their turn give way to the gymnast swinging with the hula hoop. The phantasmagoria of words and actions is steadily building up. <...>

What’s most inconceivable is how this elegantly decadent performance, this lunatic asylum have been translated into a tragicomedy that is so much like Chekhov’s plays with their eternal students, doctors singing tara-ra-boom-de-boom and the young girls who are in mourning for themselves. But Finzi Pasca managed’ to give shape to the quietness that is present in Chekhov’s diaries
M. Krylova, «Rossia»

June 15, 16, 17, 18, June 19: 13:00 & 19:00, June 20: 13:00 & 19:00, June 22, 23, 24, 25, June 26: 13:00, 19:00
Pushkin Theatre
2 h with intermission