Mamedali Agayev: "We return to theatrical and cultural friendship that used to be in Soviet times"
Mammadali Agayev was born in 1952 in Nakhichevan, he received his degree in cultural promotion at Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts in Baku, worked as the chief administrator of the Nakhchivan Music and Drama Theater, intern-head of the Moscow Academic Theater of Satire, the chief administrator of the Gogol Moscow Theater and the Moscow State Children's Musical Theater. SinceJune 1985 he worked as chief administrator, assistant director, deputy director and managing director of the Moscow Academic Theater of Satire. Since November 1992 he has served as director of the Moscow Academic Theater of Satire.
In February 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Mamedali Agayev with the Order of Friendship, and the President of Azerbaijan recently awarded the Director of the Moscow Academic Theater of Satire with the Dostlug Order for his services in strengthening cultural ties between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation. Today, Vestnik Kavkaza visited Aghayev.
- What do these two awards mean for you?
- I am happy to be awarded with two orders of friendship - by the Russian president and by the native Azerbaijani president. I'm proud of it.
- How do you assess the relations between Russia and Azerbaijan in the sphere of culture?
- I think that in the last 10 years we have returned to the theatrical and cultural friendship that used to be in Soviet times. I have said many times that no former republic can live without Russian culture. These are age-old ties. When we interrupted our theatrical contacts, we were left without nothing. This is the problem of the theaters of all former Soviet republics. Previously, there was a Russian theater director's school. But it's gone. But in the last 10 years we have returned it, and we should continue to do it, because theatrical art has united Russia and Azerbaijan for a long time. The fact that Roman Viktyuk is staging a performance in Baku pleases me. I am glad that theatrical and cultural ties are renewed.
- Do Russia and Azerbaijan have any major theatrical projects now?
- Cultural and theatrical contacts are mainly connected with tours. Baku is visited by the Fomenko Theater, Helikon Opera, Satirikon. Theatrical relations are improving day by day. If we invite Azerbaijani artists to our theaters, and send our artists to play in Azerbaijani theaters, it would be great, unforgettable. It's just my dream.
- What repertoire do you usually perform on tour? What is most in demand and interesting for the audience?
- Azerbaijani audience is interested in any performance with their favorite artists. And there are many of them in our theater.
- You've been a director of the Satire Theater for a quarter of a century. What does a director's role mean?
- I have been a director of the theater for 25 years and have been working in this house for 38 years. A director is a father, a mother, a sister, and a brother, he is the only person who solves all the problems of the collective - any member of the collective - both national artists and cleaners. Everyone turns to a director. The director must answer for every act, for every tiny thing. He should be, first of all, a good person, a kind person. Therefore, I am proud that there have been no complaints about my work in 25 years.
- Are your actors like children to you?
- Yes. I'm friends with all of them. We do everything together to ensure that our theater is at its best, so that all our viewers will be satisfied. Therefore, I love my team and I am proud that we are a team. I am proud that I am the director of such a theater, in which it's hard to get tickets.
- What was the start of your love for the theater?
- I grew up in the theater. At first I went to the drama circle of the House of Pioneers, then, as a schoolboy, I worked at the theater officially, I received a salary, was an extra, wanted to be an actor. But I didn't become an actor. I worked both as a requisitioner, a sorter, as a lighting technician. I went through it in my school years. And then there was Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts and my internship in Moscow.
- How did you get to the Theater of Satire?
- In the Soviet times the theaters were headed mostly by non-theatrical people. Directors were appointed. In 1979 [the Minister of Culture of the USSR Petr] Demichev issued an order to train theater directors out of theatrical workers. I accidentally found out about this order and told my director of the Nakhchivan Music and Drama Theater: "I want to learn." Thanks to him, he did not refuse and sent me for two years for an internship. I received a call from the Ministry of Culture: "In which theater do you want to be trained?". But I did not know about the Theater of Satire. I knew the Bolshoi Theater, the Moscow Art Theater, the Maly Theater, and answered: "Those where Andrei Mironov works." So fate brought me to this theater and Andrei Mironov. He was very simple, kind, open and talented person. Until the end of his life we were friends, until 1987. I had good relations with every artist I worked with - Mironov, Mishulin, Tkachuk, Aroseva. We often went on tour, and a touring bring people together. It does not matter whether you are a director, an artist, an accountant or an assembler. Therefore, we have such a friendly family. This is where everything comes from.
To be continued