MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
Director Vyacheslav Ignatov and actors Alexander Zanin and Ksenia Makarova talk about the creation of the production.
The new season at the Center for Drama and Directing (CDD) began with the premiere of “Oblomoff” based on the play by Mikhail Ugarov, which, in turn, was written based on the novel by Ivan Goncharov. Director Vyacheslav Ignatov presents his view of the classics – Olga Ilyinskaya rushes around the stage on roller skates, Stolz is dressed like a character in a computer game, and Oblomov looks at all this with endless humility. Read about how the production looks and how accents are set in it in the mos.ru article.
20 years ago, director and playwright, specialist in documentary drama Mikhail Ugarov wrote the play Death of Ilya Ilyich based on the novel Oblomov, freely editing the text. The content remained in common between the novel and the play – like Goncharov’s hero, Oblomov Ugarova is indifferent to life. The author’s production of the play, which became Ugarov’s directorial debut, soon appeared on the stage of the Center for Drama and Directing. Then the play “Oblomoff” won the audience award “Golden Mask” and a number of other awards.
Today the famous title is returning to the repertoire. The director of the new version, Vyacheslav Ignatov, is sure that his performance has almost nothing in common with the past.
He emphasizes: his Oblomov has become closer to a modern man who can get everything that humanity has accumulated in its history with the help of gadgets. Before him, the real and virtual world has the same characteristics. The world inhabited by characters from films, computer games and virtual friends is exactly the same as the real one, and maybe even better. This noticeably distinguishes the performance from the version of Ugarov, who surrounded the melancholic hero with the most ordinary people and simple things.
Warrior, singer, spider
Art directors Elena, Olga and Anna Bekritsky helped to embody the phantasmagoric world. They divided the stage and the audience hall with a transparent curtain onto which the video is projected: either female lips reading a sad letter to Oblomov; then dead birds falling from the sky are a bad omen of the hero’s imminent death. Dreams, sorrows and anxieties of the protagonist are picked up by the music that Viktor Maminov, who plays Stolz, wrote specially for the performance.
The most interesting thing in the visual part of the performance is the costumes that you want to consider in detail. They represent Oblomov’s view of the rest of the characters. In the image of her beloved, Olga Ilyinskaya, the images of the Virgin Mary and Aphrodite are combined. The obliging Zakhar appears to be a universal tortoise carrying Oblomov’s world; childhood friend Andrei Stolts – the god of war, the hero of some fantastic comic book or computer game.
The economic woman Agafya Pshenitsyna, who eventually becomes Oblomov’s wife, draws his fantasy in the form of a cold and gloomy spider with clawed paws, pulling her into sticky nets. And her children, Vanya and Masha, are seen by the hero not as children, but as monsters – fingering with their claws, they help the mother to entangle the victim. They, like moiraes, weave the threads of life, in which, like in a spider’s web, the hero dies.
Oblomov himself, in his huge golden robe, looks like a Buddha who has cognized nirvana and is therefore serene. No matter what he did – whether he was sitting in the pose of an enlightened deity or walking on the heels of Olga – his look at what is happening around him remains aloof.
Get on the rollers, hide your hands
Actor Alexander Zanin, reincarnated as the Oblomov deity, does not consider his role to be simple. He has to constantly overcome the resistance of a suit – beautiful, but very complex.
The world around Oblomov, shod in soft slippers, is swift, no one here stands still. To emphasize this contrast, the director put some of the artists on roller skates. Ksenia Makarova, who plays Olga Ilyinskaya and Masha, had to study.
Vyacheslav Ignatov offered not only videos. Adding claws to the heroes of Vanya and Masha is also his idea. “He said that our hands are too beautiful and therefore we need to hide them,” says Makarova.
From the very beginning of the rehearsals, the director forbade the actors to reread the original text of “Oblomov”, because Ugarov’s play is still a separate work. Moreover, so that the artists would not get confused, he did not allow them to refer to the first version of the play. All they had was the text of the play. If there was a misunderstanding of the motivation of the heroes, he himself chose individual excerpts from Goncharov’s novel.
“I remember this novel only from the school curriculum. And now, while the performance is on, I am afraid to read it, even just to refresh my memory. I am afraid that after that I will want to do something differently on stage, show different emotions, go the other way. I completely trust the director, ”shared Alexander Zanin.
From the 19th century to the 20th and 21st
The idea of a novel about a sensitive and vulnerable nobleman, endlessly indulging in nostalgia for childhood and thinking about everything in the world, came to Goncharov in 1847. But the novel first saw the light of day only in 1859 – all these 12 years continuous work was carried out. Goncharov rewrote entire chapters, added new ones, carefully polished the characters of the heroes. The book, acutely social and philosophical, was warmly received by critics and readers alike. The concept of “Oblomovism” appeared, which meant outdated foundations, personal stagnation, rejection of something new, unusual.
The novel became part of a trilogy – along with The Ordinary Story and The Cliff. According to the plot, these works are not connected in any way, they are united only by a common conflict – the transition from conservative Russia to new times. The closest thing to the author himself was exactly “Oblomov”. “I wrote my life and what grew to it,” Goncharov said about the novel. He did not hide his own similarity with the title character – like Ilya Ilyich, he was very fond of peace, comfort and serenity.
Oblomov is one of the most popular works on the national theater scene. The transfer of his heroes from the 19th century to the present began not at the beginning of the 21st century, but much earlier. In the early 1930s, for example, the Leningrad Ensemble of Artistic Propaganda presented Oblomov’s Fragments, a performance in which an extra person, along with his sofa, ends up on the court of history in the Soviet Union. Not everyone condemned the lazy and inactive hero – for example, Oscar Remez in 1969 staged at the Moscow Drama Theater named after A.S. Pushkin’s “Oblomov”, drawing parallels between the image of the protagonist and Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
And in 2018 Mikhail Umanets staged a play “Wreckage” at the theater “School of Modern Play”. In it, the heroes are transported to the recent past – the 1990s.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.