Last weekend, the Mayakovsky Theater hosted the premiere of the play “Measure for Measure” by Alexander Zolotovitsky. The young director, a graduate of Brusnikin and Kudryashov’s workshops, explores the relevance of Shakespeare’s “problem play” in the genre that he himself defined as anti-comedy. BURO Editor. Ekaterina Krayukhina knows at least five reasons why you shouldn’t miss the new production.
To the question “Why was the play dubbed anti-comedy and what does that mean?” Alexander Zolotovitsky responds that the play’s plot bears little resemblance to a comedy: a young woman, roughly speaking, is forced to save her brother from her execution at the cost of her own innocence. At the same time, there is a lot of humor in the work, even if it is below the belt (we remember that Shakespeare wrote for his contemporaries, a simple and uneducated audience). Characters who are funny at first glance can suddenly seem creepy and vice versa. It cannot be called comedy or tragedy. By the way, it is precisely because of such contradictions that “Measure for Measure” is considered one of Shakespeare’s “problematic works” – a term used by literary scholars to understand the playwright’s works with a blurred genre.
All photos: Sergey Petrov
Zolotovitsky worked on the play, which was born within the framework of the Theater Laboratory, for more than a year. However, the idea for the production itself occurred to the director a long time ago, after a lecture by the art critic Alexei Vadimovich Bartoshevich, who argued that each Shakespeare play falls into its own time. And if the 20th century was the century of “Hamlet”, now the work “Measure for Measure” more accurately reflects our life. Humor, heroes, current concepts of bullying, body shaming, the MeToo movement – it turns out all of this isn’t new.
Deus ex machina, which in Latin means “God of the machine”, is a characteristic principle of ancient theater (Euripides, for example, simply adored it). At that time, at the end of the play, someone would often magically appear, sometimes even descending from the sky, and with a click solve the heroes’ problems. A real miracle on stage also occurs in the play “Measure for Measure.” However, let’s leave it a secret whether it guarantees a happy ending: each viewer decides for themselves.
…and I want to start dancing with the actors. Through choreography, artists convey certain thoughts, intentions or states to the audience, and sometimes these non-verbal signals work better than words. There is a lot of plasticity in Measure for Measure, especially in the second act. The viewer will surely remember the crazy dances of the heroes the night before Claudio’s performance of the song Clap Your Hands Say Yeah “Satan Said Dance”. The choreographer of the performance, Sasha Kolosovskaya, admits that she herself loves this scene (removing the words from there was precisely her, as it seems to us, successful idea). The result was a “delirium of vulgar Vienna,” delicious and contagious.
You will not see boring old decorations. For example, the scenery reminded us of the screensaver from the series “The New Pope” with Jude Law: a large cross that shines with LEDs of different colors. Of course, other parallels can be drawn. Set designer Sofya Shnyreva says that she always takes into account the historical era, but she always mixes it with modern elements: “It seems to me that otherwise it is simply impossible, because the theater will become a historical museum.” The performance space functions as a living organism that pushes characters toward the front of the stage or pushes them into the depths. Sophia advises seeing the production as a brilliant comic: dynamic, based on archetypes, outbursts and passions.
The next performances of the play “Measure for Measure” will take place at the Mayakovsky Theater on September 30 and October 5.