Anatoly Ledukhovsky: “Distinctivness implies traditions, but I don’t really like this word”
St. Petersburg's Yunykh Zriteley Theater will host premiere of "The Cliff" play on April 26. It will be produced by famous theater director and teacher Anatoly Ledukhovsky. He puts on performances in Russia and abroad, runs the Domashny Theater in the Shchepkin House-Museum and teaches at the GITIS. His works received many prestigious awards, including the highest national theatrical award "Golden Mask". Author of this play, written based on the novel of I.A. Goncharova, is A. Ya. Shapiro. The story of love and change of eras turns into philosophical parable about knowing oneself. In an interview with Zond News, Anatoly Ledukhovsky talks about his love for St. Petersburg, production team and his own understanding of the creative process.
- Anatoly Vladimirovich, you worked in St. Petersburg two years ago, producing the play titled “Relative Values” in the Akimov's Comedy Theater. What does this city mean to you?
- I have always had difficult relations with St. Petersburg - after all, I was born and raised in Moscow, which determined a lot in my life: tastes, preferences, lifestyle. For me, Petersburg is associated with work and people who, in the process of this work, became part of my life - someone for a short period of time, and someone for a lifetime. I'm glad that Petersburg has added a lot of new things to my life.
- Have you ever produced plays for the Yunykh Zriteley Theater? What is so distinctive about this theater?
- I should admit, I don’t really understand what a Youth Theater as a phenomenon is. Perhaps it's not that easy to find a production for young audience in the Moscow Youth Theater: for many years it stages plays with adult themes. I never had an opportunity to work at the St. Petersburg Youth Theater so I don't really know. Of course, I already saw some of the previous work, I even liked some of them very much, but it's not enough. And, in my opinion, it's not that necessary. I was chosen by management of this theater, and that means they saw something in me, it means they need a director of this type. Why? Only they know that. I just have to do my job as sincerely as possible. Whether they were right or wrong when they chose me as a director will be clear much later, maybe even after the premiere. The St. Petersburg Youth Theater is a theater with its powerful history. Evaluating it's distinctiveness will be possible only after some time. For me, it doesn't really matter. It is important that artists are capable of perceiving different things, responding - otherwise nothing will come out of this work. Overall, distinctivness implies that there are certain traditions, but I don’t really like this word.
- What audience is your play intended for?
- It's for adults, the poster says 16+. But this doesn't mean that this play is for any age category. I would not recommend my play to those who are overuse the word “classic”. After all, I know that they will just say that someone has once again distorted classic, everyone drinks, fights. But for some reason no one remembers that most of Russia's classical works, and not only literature, had all those things.
- Why did you decide to produce a play based on this novel?
- That's the will of the theater, and I think it's a right things. As a director, it's difficult for me to understand what work is necessary in the repertoire of the theater at the moment, it's prerogative of artistic director, he, as a strategist, has much better understanding. It's enough for me to know that this play is based on Goncharov’s work. That's why I approve of the choice of the theater, since this work hasn't lost its power and it seems pretty relevant to me.
- Did you like to work with the actors?
- I'm always afraid to jinx it. Actor has a very complex and highly mobile organism, but he's also very fragile. You know how it goes - everything is fine at first, but everything may fall apart by the end, or vice versa, everything develops and becomes clear only to crumble just before the premiere. Right now I mostly rehearse with the young part of the troupe, which has turned out to be quite receptive of my thoughts and style of work. While there's a lack of mutual interest, we have a fruitful dialogue, half of the work is done, and this process was has been pleasant for the most part. But it doesn’t mean much, since rehearsals on the big stage are completely different. I hope everything will be alright.
- Who does your production team include?
- I work with young theater artist Andrei Shayev, graduate of the GITIS scenography faculty, where I have been teaching for 21 years. This is our third joint project on the big stage. Music was also written by my student, Maria Galkina, a wonderful actress and musician who plays in my little Domashny Theater at the Shchepkin House in Moscow. Igor Fomin will be responsible for the illumination - this is the same team that helped be to prepare the “Relative Values” play. Sergey Romanyuk from the Akimov theater, Kuzma Stomachenko, Oleg Senchenko, Anna Migitsko, Anna Lebed (Kochetkova), Anastasia Kazakova, Antonina Vvedenskaya, Kirill Taskin, Ilya Bozhedomov are playing main characters at rehearsals.
- A cliff in your play is a metaphor, what does it represent?
- For me, a cliff is something all-consuming, like a black hole...
- How difficulty is it to create a play based on this big novel?
- This question should be addressed to the author of this play. Adolf Yakovlevich chose those motifs from Goncharov's novel that resonated with him a long time ago. I chose those motifs that resonated with my thoughts and with today's realities. When it comes to such a huge work, the most difficult thing is to isolate those things that are the most important to you, because you have to create several characters with their multilayered life and with a huge number of characters around them, place heroes in an isolated environment where only they exist. It's not that simple.
- Is your play about the Artist?
- It's about failures and illusions, which all of us often have. Again, I repeat, no one ever knows what this play will be about. The main thing is how viewer sees style, sees this story. And if it's different from what I wanted, it's not that important.