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Breaking the Sound Barrier

Two new shows discover innovative and sometimes provocative uses for music.

The Moscow Times

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Surely there isnothing new you can dowith music inatheatrical setting. Wehave operas, operettas, musicals, background music, ambient noise and mood filler. Doesn't that exhaust the possibilities? Well, not quite. Vladimir Pankov's production of“Passage” and Anatoly Ledukhovsky's production ofSeagull Live are reminders that there are plenty ofnuances left tobeexplored.

In Seagull Live, aproduction ofModelteatr, Anatoly Ledukhovsky makes noovert attempt tobreak new artistic ground. Essentially, hestages aconcert inwhich six actresses perform 17 songs inEnglish, 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 ofthe performance.

But this show's modesty isasdeceptive asits visual properties are striking. Working with anempty stage and rich territories ofcolored light, Ledukhovsky leads usasfar aspossible from narrative story and action and encourages ustodiscover ashared state ofmind with the performers. Through such disparate songs asLhasa deSela's “Pa'llegar aTuLado,“ Tom Waits' „SoLong, I'll See Ya” and George Gershwin and Dubose Heyward's „Summertime,” the show explores the efforts people make tobreak loose ofwhat binds them.

Flying, arecurrent theme inthe spoken texts, isgiven ethereal but tangible form inthe scenes ofthe actresses embracing songs and bringing them tolife. Central tothis isathree-pronged version of„Summertime.” Maria Galkina gives itafine straightforward reading, followed byYulia Bogdanovich's sexy, jazzy rendition that segues into abrisk, funny take byMaria Serga. Each version takes usdown adifferent road and leads ustodifferent discoveries.

Ledukhovsky begins things with akind oftheatrical joke: Anactress unleashes animpassioned spiel about freedom inbroken English. Atranslator struggling comically tokeep pace inRussian finally gives upand begins providing her own commentary onthe topic. Each language, itseems, each culture and each person has her orhis own truth and logic.

Seagull Live presents six actresses pursuing their own truths and logic through song. They challenge ustojettison some ofthe preconceptions that weharbor: what certain songs mean, what constitutes asong ingeneral and what differentiates song from theater. Around the time that “Summertime” isgiven three diverse interpretations, this production undergoes atransformation. This iswhen song almost magically becomes theater. The themes that Ledukhovsky explores freedom and self-liberation are never illustrated. But they drift inthe air like asextet ofbeautiful, soaring voices.

By John Freedman
Published: October 6,

John Freedman, 6.10.2006




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