The premiere of Uncle Vanya starring Yevgeny Mironov, Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Julia Peresild, and Anatoly Beliy at the Theatre of Nations concluded the program of the 19th Cherry Forest Arts Festival.
On September 14, 15 and 16, the artistic director of the Odeon Theatre in Paris, Stéphane Braunschweig, presented his version of Chekhov's play in Moscow. Among the guests of the premiere previews were Ksenia Sobchak, Konstantin Bogomolov, Svetlana Bondarchuk, Ekaterina and Alexander Strizhenov, Andrei Malakhov and Natalia Shkuleva, Valeria Rodnyanskaya, Andrei Makarevich, Leonid Parfenov, Ekaterina Andreeva, Larissa Rubalskaya, Mikhail Barshevsky, Sergei Nikolaevich, Sergei Filin, Sergei Shakurov, Svetlana Khorkina, Mikhail Shvydkoy, Maria Fedorova, Daria Veledeeva, Igor Garanin, Ekaterina Moiseeva, Konstantin Andrikopoulos, Eteri Levieva, Jan Janowski and others.
This is Stéphane Braunschweig’s first project in Russia. In France, he has already staged The Seagull, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, each time seeking to move away fr om the traditions and pretenses associated with Chekhov's plays. As part of the 19th Open Arts Festival, Braunschweig presented a staging that, in his words, he has been aspiring for almost 30 years.
The time to which the action was transferred is conditional, as is the place; the heroes are dressed in the latest fashion. A reality that, on the one hand, is very similar to ours, on the other, it is a sort of parallel existence. The scenery is exceptionally laconic: gray timber floor and walls, a round tub in the center of the stage, a meeting place for the inhabitants and guests of the estate wh ere they gather to bathe and swim. The only unchanging element is the original text of Chekhov – the primary condition of the work put forward by the guest director, which turned out to be the most challenging part for the actors.
What the team wanted to do was to improvise and add a personal touch, but, according to Yevgeny Mironov (Uncle Vanya), "all these attempts were thwarted". "You can come with a book – everything is in order, up to commas and interjections, – assures Julia Peresild (Elena Andreevna). Without changing a single word from the original text, Braunschweig puts together a complicated puzzle made up of from the relationships of Chekhov's characters. The director was looking for a balance between the expression of the performances, and the rigor and thoughtfulness demanded by Chekhov's play.
Elizaveta Boyarskaya and Julia Peresild share the role of Elena Andreevna – the bored young wife of the venerable Professor Serebryakov, played by Viktor Verzhbitsky. Theatre of Nations Creative Director Yevgeny Mironov plays the disillusioned landowner Ivan Voynitsky, and Anatoly Beliy – the talented and cynical doctor Astrov, who is the main character for Braunschweig. In the director's opinion, the key to his production of Uncle Vanya is the environmental theme that concerns everybody. "Until recently, there was an overbearing idea that it is necessary to constantly increase production, that scientific, economic, and social progress go hand in hand. Today, however, the more we produce, the more we pollute the planet, destroy the world in which we live. Chekhov raised this issue at the beginning of the 20th century", – says Braunschweig.
Astrov, one of the characters, proved to be something of a prophet: in the play he experiences great distress due to the cutting of forests – a message for us to focus on the environmental problems faced by the world today.