Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre
Directed and written by Alexander Molochnikov
23rd Oct. 2018, 19:30
24th Oct. 2018, 14:30/19:30
WHERE: Wuzhen Grand Theatre
Duration: 100 minutes (without intermission)
Performed in Russian, with Chinese and English subtitles
What do I know about World War I? What do the people of my generation know about this war, except that it began with the murder of Archduke Ferdinand? These questions were asked by a young actor and director Alexander Molochnikov, telling the history of trench warfare through the eyes of the French and Germans in the style of cabaret. As a result, the production was provocative as a student piece, and astute as a Brechtian performance.
— Elena Smorodinova, Vechernaya Moskva
In just over an hour, a puzzle of music, songs, clumsy movement, and sketches comes together into a busy but unsettling picture. And this is creepy not only for the story of trench lice, not only for some people reasoning about the war while eating oysters and sipping wine, while others at the same time rot in the mud... The luck of this work first of all is an amazing correspondence to the genre of cabaret. It should be said that at the beginning of the last century the Moscow Art Theatre had a cabaret experience: one of his directors, Nikita Baliev, with some company members, opened the famous-all-over- Moscow The Bat Cabaret. Looks like, a hundred years after, the cabaret is due back at the Moscow Art Theatre.
— Marina Raikina, MK
The figure of the strange and demonic jester and narrator, juggling the French, the German, the Russian flags, with the grimaces of a conspirator, hinting about the current war and provoking the room with dumb questions: whether Russians want to go to war? – cements the entire show. Artem Volobuyev, acting with a desperate fearlessness, passing from the bravura of witty political escapades to philosophical harlequinade and coarse buffoonery, somehow manages to create the image of a cynical and distraught resident of the 21st century, who knows so much, but understands so little. Coarse buffoonery – sad and hysterical at times – this is all that is left for him on the ruins of the disappearing world.
— Alyona Karas, Russian Gazette
The performance begins as a stand-up piece in some low-key new drama piece with the reprise of a ban on swearing and smoking. With puppet terrorists awaiting Archduke Ferdinand, and a chain of chance events, thanks to which the ridiculous runt Gavrilo Principle embarked on buying himself some sausages, and managed to change the course of world history.
— Olga Yegoshina, New Izvestia
Why is it that each year we can see a lot of new works on World War II and almost none on World War I? What do I know about the World War I, except that it has started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and it was the first time that a toxic gas attack took place. What is the great trench warfare, which we only know of thanks to « On the Western Front. » by Remarque? Perhaps these questions drew my attention to such grand episodes in 20th century history – equal parts important and unduly outcast.
While reading the pre-war diaries and letters of the citizens of both hostile parties I noticed something else. Both sides were overwhelmed by the euphoria of engaging in war, they were completely taken by the desire to fight. The war to them seemed like an exciting adventure that wouldn't last very long and would be the perfect chance to show their heroism, as well as an opportunity to fight their own complexes and to canalize their mutual grievances. Today, looking back on the events of a hundred years ago, it is scary to picture how quickly the young crowd coming from major European cities parted with those illusions upon discovering themselves trapped for four years in the war trenches, full of dirt, death and madness. We somehow keep forgetting that there is nothing worse than war, and in the eternal quest to romanticize it over and again we keep falling into the same trap.
Our production follows the story of several French and German soldiers. They go from utopian fantasies and fanatical patriotism, through mutual hatred and the inevitable destruction of each other to complete devastation, on to the loss of any moral limitations and self-destruction.
We are not attempting to create a didactic historical panorama, or a lecture about human cruelty. Our story will be presented as a cabaret with a Master of Ceremonies center stage. His one and only goal is to entertain the audience with songs and cheerful stories. At least up to the point…
About Alexander Molochnikov
Graduate of RATI-GITIS School of Directing (class of Leonid Kheyfets), he was invited to join the Moscow Art Theatre company upon graduating in 2012. His debut appearance was Vronsky in the production of Karenin. His other acting credits include Edgar in New Sorrows of Young W. by Ulrich Plenzdorf (directed by Vasily Barkhatov, 2012), August Snodgrass in The Pickwick Club (directed by Evgeni Pisarev), Fadinar in A Straw Hat from Italy by Eugène Labiche (directed by Thomas Bouvet). He has authored and directed three productions at the Moscow Art Theatre: 19.14 (2014), The Rebels (2015), and 19.17. The Bright Way (2017).
Mr. Molochnikov's acting appearances outside the Moscow Art Theatre include Vasechka in Dating in the Suburbs (based on The Elder Son by Alexander Vampilov) at Akimov Comedy Theatre in St. Petersburg; Tishka in The Bankrupt by Alexander Ostrovsky at Na Liteynom Theatre in St. Petersburg; Yura in A Slow Sword by Yuri Klavdiev at the Center for Dramaturgy and Directing in Moscow; Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Stanislavsky Musical Theatre; Dmitry / Zvezdich in The Masquerade by Mikhai Ugarov based on the poem by Mikhail Lermontov at the Meyerhold Center in Moscow. He is the recipient of two Tabakov Award in 2014 (for the title role in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) and in 2015 (for authoring and directing the production of 19:14). His performance in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane brought him the special prize of the Russian National Harlequin Award.
Author & Director: Alexander Molochnikov
Set Designer: Nikolai Simonov
Costume Designer: Maria Danilova
Lighting Designer: Igor Kapustin
Dialogs: Alexander Arkhipov,
Verses: Dmitry Bykov
Composer and Music Director: Roman Berchenko
Featuring: Moscow Modern Music Band
Choreographer: Irina Kashuba
Associate Designer: Elena Zykova
Accompanist: Tatiana Pavlova
Stage Manager: Olga Roslyakova,Olga Lipskaya
Based on the idea of Olga
Executive Producer: Olga Khenkina
Artistic Supervisor: Evgeny Pisarev
Cast: Artyom Volobuev - MC
Pavel Vorozhtsov - Hans
Yuriy Kravets - Gunter
Svetlana Ivanova-Sergeeva – Desire
Rostislav Lavrentiev – Dominic
Mikhail Rakhlin – Jacques
Artem Bystrov - Jean
Sofiya Raizman, Maria Karpova – Joan
Ruslan Bratov – Kowalski
Evgeny Sytyi – Father
Artem Sokolov - Pierre
About Moscow Art Academic Theatre of A.P. Chekhov
The Moscow Art Theatre came into existence thanks to the joint efforts of actor/director Konstantin Stanislavsky and playwright/acting teacher Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. The theatre was conceived over a dinner at the private dining room of the Slavyansky Bazaar restaurant on June 22, 1897. The dinner that the founders shared lasted around 18 hours. They stayed at the restaurant till late at night, and then decided to move to Stanislavsky’s country house in the suburbs where the meeting ended at the crack of dawn. In the course of that meeting they managed to discuss every potential company member; to agree on the prospective repertoire of plays; to choose the form of corporate governance; and, most importantly, to set the ethical principles for this new endeavor.
Sixteen months after the meeting the new company opened its inaugural season to the overwhelming acclaim of theatregoers and critics alike. The Seagull by Chekhov was part of the new company’s first season and became the company’s signature piece and its logo. All his subsequent pieces, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov wrote for the Moscow Art Theatre and they were premiered there.
Moscow Art Theatre is justly considered a birthplace of modern directing; a home of the most notable playwrights of the 20th century (Chekhov, Gorky, Bulgakov and many others); and the cradle of the Stanislavsky system of acting. It was the first theatre to introduce seasonal programming based on a set of artistic goals; and the first theatre where the playwright, the director, and the resident ensemble of actors are equally essential.
A subsequent major page in the Moscow Art Theatre history was the unprecedented two-year-long tour of Europe and the US in 1922-1924. That tour made the company a world treasure. It was during this tour that the Stanislavsky system, known as the Method in the West, became the gold standard of actors’ training.
Celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2018, Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre remains on the forefront of artistic pursuit. We are a company of 120 actors with a rotating repertoire of nearly 60 productions that are presented every night on the three stages. The company maintains close ties with its training program – world-renowned Moscow Art Theatre School, regarded as the leading theatre school in Russia, and with the Moscow Art Theatre Museum that preserves and develops their unique and most valuable theatre collection.