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Talk With Theatre Director Anatoly Ledukhovsky

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Anatoly Ledukhovsky is, perhaps, the most controversial star onthe Russian theatre horizon. Heisbetter known abroad than inhis native country. In1996Ledukhovsky, who had been inthe theatre for 10 already, was invited totake part inthe 4th Salvo Randone festival inItaly, one ofthe most prestigious national forums featuring best theatre productions from all over Italy. The only foreign performance presented atthe Salvo Randone was Alexander Ledukhovsky's version ofHenry IVbyLuigi Pirandello. Itdidn't appear onthe competition program and was shown onthe very last day ofthe festival. The success was enormous. The following day the jury announced anunprecedented decision: the Grand-Prix inbreech ofall ofthe festival's rules went tothe MODELTHEATRE from Russia. Italian newspapers compared Ledukhovsky with such masters asVsevlolod Meyerkhold and Peter Stein, calling his theatre “synthetic“, “liturgical“ and even „mediumistic”, and drawing parallels with the Japanese „NO” theatre, early European expressionists and the early 20th century Russian avant-garde.
Says Sergei Bakhrin, aprominent Russian theatre critic and professor atthe Russian Academy ofTheatre: “Isaw many ofLedukhovsky's productions. It's difficult tofind words todescribe what itlooks like. You've got tosee itwith your own eyes. This isathrilling sight. Iamsure his future performances will beascongenial“.
What's the secret ofLekukhovsky's success? One reason may bethat hehas never stuck toany cliches. “The word “can't“ doesn't exist for me“, the director says. “Iwas frequently told, especially when Iwas just beginning, “You can't doitthis way“. But who knows how itreally should bedone? Ihave thoroughly studied Stanislavsky's theory and the Russian drama school, but Idon't keep toany traditions“. Ledukhovsky's largely innovative style spans beyond the mere notion of“theatrical avant-garde” orwhat's commonly implied byit. Hemay becalled anavant-garde director only ifweuse the word „avant-garde” inits initial meaning: „anadvanced detachment”. Last fall his MODELTHEATRE, finally, got abuilding ofits own, where itpremiered „Florentine Nights” based onMarina Tsvetayeva's poetry and Leopold Zacher-Mazoch's play „Venus inFurs”, combining bold and sometimes shocking staging with traditional „realistic” forms and adeep psychological approach. When Iamworking onanew production, Idon't care what itwill belike anavant-garde ortraditional performance. There isaconcrete dramaturgical material, which Iinterpret the way Ifeel it. For each play there isaclue. Iwill never make actors tostand ontheir heads for the mere sake ofmaking an“avant-garde performance. Iwill doitwhere Ifeel it's necessary“. Looking atthis fairly short man with avelvet voice and pleasant manners, nothing inhis appearance bespeaking a“brazen reformer“, one still has nodoubt that this iswhat Ledukhovsky really isand that future textbooks onthe history oftheatre will, byall means, include achapter devoted tohis legacy. Anatoly Ledukhovsky staged “AVoice from the Shell”, apsycho-plastic composition based onpaintings byHieronymus Bosch, Honore Daumier and Salvador Dali atthe GALATHEATRE inStockholm followed by„King Houbu” byAlfred Jarri and „Venus inFurs” byLeopold Zacher-Mazoch atthe Satirikon theatre inBremen. His MODELTHEATRE frequently performs inEurope. Every tour isatremendous success, despite the fact that some plays show without translation.

Y.Kislyarova

16.04.2002




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