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Breaking the Sound Barrier

Two new shows discover innovativeጠand sometimes provocativeጠuses for music.

The Moscow Times


Surely there isánothing new you can doáwith music ináaátheatrical setting. Weáhave operas, operettas, musicals, background music, ambient noise and mood filler. Doesn't that exhaust the possibilities? Well, not quite. Vladimir Pankov's production ofá“Passage” and Anatoly Ledukhovsky's production ofáźSeagullጠLive╗ are reminders that there are plenty ofánuances left toábeáexplored.

In źSeagullጠLive,╗ aáproduction ofáModelteatr, Anatoly Ledukhovsky makes noáovert attempt toábreak new artistic ground. Essentially, heástages aáconcert ináwhich six actresses perform 17 songs ináEnglish, Spanish and French. Texts drawn from Richard Bach's “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,“ Anton Chekhov's “The Seagull“ and other works link the songs and give them context. The songs, however, are the meat ofáthe performance.

But this show's modesty isáasádeceptive asáits visual properties are striking. Working with anáempty stage and rich territories ofácolored light, Ledukhovsky leads usáasáfar asápossible from narrative story and action and encourages usátoádiscover aáshared state ofámind with the performers. Through such disparate songs asáLhasa deáSela's “Pa'llegar aáTuáLado,“ Tom Waits' „SoáLong, I'll See Ya” and George Gershwin and Dubose Heyward's „Summertime,” the show explores the efforts people make toábreak loose ofáwhat binds them.

Flying, aárecurrent theme ináthe spoken texts, iságiven ethereal but tangible form ináthe scenes ofáthe actresses embracing songs and bringing them toálife. Central toáthis isáaáthree-pronged version ofá„Summertime.” Maria Galkina gives itáaáfine straightforward reading, followed byáYulia Bogdanovich's sexy, jazzy rendition that segues into aábrisk, funny take byáMaria Serga. Each version takes usádown aádifferent road and leads usátoádifferent discoveries.

Ledukhovsky begins things with aákind ofátheatrical joke: Anáactress unleashes anáimpassioned spiel about freedom inábroken English. Aátranslator struggling comically toákeep pace ináRussian finally gives upáand begins providing her own commentary onáthe topic. Each language, itáseems, each culture and each person has her oráhis own truth and logic.

źSeagullጠLive╗ presents six actresses pursuing their own truths and logic through song. They challenge usátoájettison some ofáthe preconceptions that weáharbor: what certain songs mean, what constitutes aásong inágeneral and what differentiates song from theater. Around the time that “Summertime” iságiven three diverse interpretations, this production undergoes aátransformation. This isáwhen song almost magically becomes theater. The themes that Ledukhovsky exploresጠfreedom and self-liberationጠare never illustrated. But they drift ináthe air like aásextet ofábeautiful, soaring voices.

By John Freedman
Published: October 6,

John Freedman, 6.10.2006

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