|Set Designers||Alvis Hermanis, Monica Pormale|
|Performers||Chulpan Khamatova, Yevgeny Mironov, Yulia Svejakova, Yulia Peresild, Alexander Grishin, Dmitry Zhuravlyov, Pavel Akimkin, Alexander Novin|
|Coproduction||Wiener Festwochen, Theaterformen (hannover)|
About the Project
It was Alvis Hermanis who originally conceived the idea of dramatizing the famous stories of Vasily Shukshin, the classic writer of the Soviet era. Hermanis has been called a “new humanist” in world theatre. One of the qualities that sets him apart as a director is the care with which he painstakingly observes the details of people's daily lives, and that is true whether he is working with contemporary characters or characters originating in the past. Some have suggested that Hermanis creates a “documentary” theatre because of the utmost precision with which he observes and interprets the real worlds that he transforms and coaxes into theatre. He creates productions exclusively about what he knows and remembers.
In this sense, Russian audiences are at a distinct advantage for, having grown up with Hermanis more or less in the same country, they share many similar memories with him. On the other hand, Hermanis's memory is unique. As rich as it is in minute detail, it never descends into a pointless nostalgia for the past, nor does it ever wallow in a vengeful rejection of the past. Hermanis has a highly developed sense of what is phony and contrived in theatre, and thus, what so often makes theatre old-fashioned and abhorrent to young audiences.
In "Shukshin's Stories" Hermanis did not ask his actors to "imitate" Soviet country bumpkins fr om the 1970s. On the contrary, he encouraged them to be contemporary people who tell simple and touching human tales that might happen to anyone and could be accessible to all. Moreover, he was adamant about maintaining Shukshin's original texts in an unadulterated form - the stories are played exactly as they were written.
The set design is a simultaneous mix of minimalism and high-tech. There is a wooden floor and a single row of wooden benches on which the actors sit. Behind them is a wall composed of photographs. Each of the ten stories included in the production has its own composition of portraits of real people which the well-known photographer Monica Pormale made during an expedition, on which the entire cast embarked to the Altai region in August of 2008.
"I had the sensation I was a violinist who was given the opportunity to play on instruments made by Stradivari and Guarneri," Hermanis declared when asked about his cast, headed by Chulpan Khamatova and Yevgeny Mironov. In August the director and his actors also spent several days in Srostki, the Siberian village wh ere Shukshin was born and grew up.