(in the year 2001 Moscow will host the Third Theatre Olympiad)
“… Being at the crossroads of the millennia, we are becoming more and more familiar with the penetration of the past into the present and of the present into the future. The past bears its fame and it is conveyed to the present, and our task is to convey this fame to the future. In this way we remember the horrors of the past and this remembrance forces us to feel fear of the future. Our movement towards the future needs to be realised with such elegance and strength as was used by the ancient nations in the creation of their tragedies. As once we hear the voices of the ancient chorus. And the light of the coming millennia casts our shadows that play in the new millennium…” These words by the renowned Greek director Teodoros Terzopulos – President of the Olympic Theatre Committee – are part of the Manifest of the Theatre Olympians on the eve of the Theatre Olympiad, to be held in Moscow in the year 2001.
A few years ago in Delphi (Greece), one of the greatest names of world theatre such as Jurij Ljubimov, George Lavadan, Robert Wilson, Tadashi Suzuki, Heiner Miller, formed a committee for preparation of the Theatre Olympiad. Inspired by the mission of the Olympic Movement and by the idea for meeting of different theatre cultures, the committee members took the brunt of the noble task of promotion of the scene experience called simply a Theatre Olympiad in various countries.
The first Theatre Olympiad was held in Delphi in 1995. It was dedicated to the topic of Antique Drama in Modern World, and the host of the Olympiad was Terzopulos. The Second Olympiad took place in the Japanese small city of Shizuoka in summer 1995. It was devoted to the topic of Creating Hopes, and the host of the Olympiad, Tadashi Suzuki, welcomed the theatre groups from 21 countries. The idea of the Olympic Theatre was born in Greece, and continued in Japan, which means in two countries with immense theatre cultures, the European and the Asian. It is not accidental that Russia was chosen to be the host country of the Third Theatre Olympiad. It is both a European and an Asian country, a country with a rich theatre culture indeed, which has born and cherished the modern theatre of the XX century. The Theatre Olympiad in Moscow will be held in cooperation with one of the greatest and the most reputable world theatre festivals – the Chekhov’s. I am trying to retell in a few words, although it is not possible, the history of this essentially unique festival in the void festival space of Russia immediatelly after the fall of the “iron curtain”. Owing to the efforts of its organisers it did not give an opportunity to the “economic curtain” to separate the Russian theatre from the theatre cultures of Former Soviet Union, Europe, and the world. Eight years ago while I was at the opening of the First Chekhov’s Festival I could not even guess into what full river I started treading and what true new and intensive emotions I would experience in time, how many new theatre spaces and styles I would discover. The first festival offered me a possibility to see three magnificent performances based on Chekhov’s play “Cherry Garden” – the one by Peter Stein with Uta Lampe in the role of Ranevskaja, the harbinger of spring in Prague in 1968 by Otomar Krejcha, although almost 30 years later, and the incredibly beautiful and sad performance by Andrej Scherban with Romanian National Theatre. At the time when eastern Europe similar to the “cherry garden” was being transferred to the new owners, when Europe and the world were being restructured for the last time in the last century, when everyone used to talk about the normal global crisis of theatre art, in Moscow they overcame the humiliating feeling of isolation from the world theatre process. Four years later, in 1996, the Second Chekhov’s Festival turned into a self-evident marathon. In a time frame of three months, the Russian capital was home of a long journey on the world theatre map – 45 performances. After nearly 40 years of stoppage, the audience saw Peter Brooke’s performance, familiarised themselves with the art of George Streller, Peter Stein, Decklan Donelan, Ejmuntas Nikroshius, discovered the name of Peter Lable (a Czech director, leader of the theatre “Na Zabadli” in Prague, who unfortunatelly left this world too early). The third Chekhov’s Festival was devoted to the 100-year anniversary of Moscow’s Hudozhestven Theatre. Thanks to this theatre, Moscow became one of the theatre capitals of the XX century. The festival’s geography expanded from Brazil to Japan. For the first time we saw the performances of Robert Wilson, Arijan Mnushkin, Christoph Martler, Lee Bruer.
For me one of the discoveries at the festival was the performance The Book of Jove by the young Brazilian director Antonio Arauzho. It is a state secret that the budget’s amount of the Third Festival was 5 million dollars!!! I know that many people will be astonished by this astronomic figure and will not believe, but this is a fact that unequivocally shows the attitude towards theatre in the part of the world called Russia.
“All that you don’t know about theatre and about which you were afraid to ask…” in this manner, paraphrasing the title of the film by Woody Allen, I would call the Theatre Olympiad that is to be seen in Moscow. Moscow Theatre Olympiad will open the gate of the 21st century and the third millennium of Christianity. It naturally marks the general concept of the Olympiad. On the one hand, establishment of the line of the theatre XX century and its relations with the theatre epochs of the past, demonstration of the most significant forms and interpretation of the dramaturgy of the Greek tragedy and comedy, through Shakespeare and Mollier all the way to the theatre avant-garde of the XX century, and on the other hand, the attempt to define the character of the theatre in the future.
The work programme of Moscow Olympiad consists of four parts:
– world theatre series
– Moscow theatre
– experiment in theatre
– street theatre.
In world theatre series the audience will see the famous Horse Theatre Zingaro from France, the latest two performances of Georgo Streller, the performances of Simon Mac Berny, Peter Stein, Pina Baush, Ljuk Bondy, Robert Sturua, Ejmontas Nakroshus, Lev Dodin. Especially for the Olympiad, in cooperation with the Avinjon Festival, the British Council, and the representative office of European Committee in Moscow, Decklan Donellan created his interpretation of one of the most difficult Russian plays “Boris Godunov” by Pushkin, with a joint selection of the Russian theatre stars. Also with Russian actors, Tadeshi Suzuki has an intention to put up Shakespeare’s King Lear, whereas Robert Wilson works on The Madman’s Diary with Ala Demidova. In a preparation phase is also an unusual play – the music mystery Polyphony of the World, based on an idea and music by the famous avant-garde composer Aleksandar Bakshi, the director Kam Ginkas, the artist Sergej Barhin, the conductor Gidon Kremer with participation of Kremerata Baltika, Siberian shamans, Strasbourg Drum Orchestra, vocalists from Asia, Africa, etc.
The Moscow part will present the latest models made in Moscow by the theatre giants working in the Russian capital (I have written recently in Teatarski Glasnik about what they are doing at the moment).
The experiment in theatre represents perhaps the most ambitious part of the Olympiad. It assumes a series of master’s classes, experimental principles, lectures, and symposiums. This programme will make an attempt to follow the genesis of the theatre avant-garde of XX century with its forms, researches, and representatives. It is not accidental that the programme is divided into two halves and is being prepared by two of the most notable Russian directors at the end of XX century – Anatolij Vasilev and Valerij Fokin. In Anatolij Vasilev’s programme, in his School for Drama Art there will be seminars for directors and dramatists that will be led by Peter Brooke. The programme part of the Centre Vsevolod Meerhold, led by Valerij Fokin, consists of lectures by Tadashi Suzuki, Teodoros Terzopulos, Christoph Marteler, a series of seances for directors and scenographers led by Robert Wilson, performances by the young star of Lithuanian theatre Oscaras Korshunovas, by Jozhef Nac, performances-happenings by the popular English group famous for its 24-hour performances, memories of the great Russian theatre reformer Grotovski, the training and the lectures of his collaborators L. Flashen and Z. Moljak, the performance Myths by Eugenio Barba, the Peking Opera through the prism of May Lanfang’s work and the influence of Meerhold on it, the theatre group of Forman Brothers (sons of the well-known director Milosh Forman) and naturally the marginal persons of the Russian theatre avant-garde from the last decades: Klim, Juhananov, Ponamarov.
For the first time, the street theatre will be a subject of the Moscow Olympiad. The art director of this part is the famous Vjacheslav Polunin. The eminent creator of the theatre Licedei has prepared a bouquet of marvellous street theatres, like the Spanish Dzardza and La Fura Dels Baus, the virtuous theatre of the drummers Stomp from Great Britain, and others. Groups from Uzbekistan, Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Corea, Singapore, Thailand are expected to come… it will be a festival, in which tens of actors will be engaged. It is not fortuitous that the Olympiad’s motto was borrowed from the title of George Streller’s book Theatre for People.
Translated by: Kristina Zimbakova