5 Russian theater productions to watch in U.S. and UK cinemas

August 1, 2017 Alexandra Guzeva
Any theatergoer would laugh in your face if given a choice between watching a play on stage or on the screen. But if the ‘stage’ option requires applying for a visa and buying a pricey plane ticket to Russia then it's easy to imagine how this question will be resolved.

Stage Russia HD continues its enlightening mission to bring more performances of leading Russian theaters to cinemas worldwide.

Stagings of Eugene Onegin and Anna Karenina by the Vakhtangov Academic Theatre of Russia, The Cherry Orchard by the Moscow Art Theater, and The Black Monk by MTuZ have already been aired since 2016 in the U.S., U.K., Israel, China and Australia.

(Find the nearest cinema here – www.stagerussia.com)

But for the 2017-2018 season, Stage Russia has prepared some new surprises:

1. The Seagull

'The Seagull' by the Satirikon Arkady Raikin Russian State Theater / Press photo'The Seagull' by the Satirikon Arkady Raikin Russian State Theater / Press photo

A recording of Chekhov's iconic play, The Seagull, staged by the Satirikon Arkady Raikin Russian State Theater will premier in cinemas on Sept. 14, 2017.

Without changing Chekhov's original text, director Yuri Butusov interpreted the action in a modern way. Just imagine that a troupe of comedians rehearse before the performance and some try to narrate their monologues, interrupting each other, while others dance to Salvatore Adamo's "Tombe la neige."

Find cinemas here – www.stagerussia.com/map-the-seagull

2. The Suicide

'The Suicide' by Art Studio Theater / Press photo'The Suicide' by Art Studio Theater / Press photo

Another great, but rarely staged production, The Suicide, by Art Studio Theater will only premier on Nov. 9, 2017, but it's worth waiting. Nikolai Erdman's comedy play adapted by director Sergey Zhenovach will capture you with its absurdism and humor.

"Once the production builds up a head of steam, the laughs come fast and furious," theater critic John Freedman wrote in the Moscow Times after its premier in 2015. "It's another thing that Erdman has us howling at topics that are deadly serious. Some may feel awkward laughing at some of the jokes."

Find cinemas here – www.stagerussia.com/map-the-suicide

3. Uncle Vanya

'Uncle Vanya' by the Vakhtangov Theater / Press photo'Uncle Vanya' by the Vakhtangov Theater / Press photo

This is one of the leading productions of the Vakhtangov Theater, featuring the popular actor, Sergey Makovetskiy. It premiers in cinemas on Jan. 9, 2018.

Director Rimas Tuminas' melancholy manner will transport you to Chekhov's late 19th century world. You will think deeply and will feel the emotional turmoil together with the characters. Chekhov called his plays comedies, but they seem more like tragedies. The key is in high irony between what the characters do and what they say and how the things happen in the end. 

Find cinemas here – www.stagerussia.com/map-uncle-vanya

4. Macbeth.Kino

'Macbeth.Kino' by St. Petersburg State Academic Lensoviet Theatre / Press photo'Macbeth.Kino' by St. Petersburg State Academic Lensoviet Theatre / Press photo

March 1, 2018 is the cinematic premier of Macbeth.Kino, produced by St. Petersburg State Academic Lensoviet Theatre. As Satirikon's The Seagull it was staged by Yuri Butusov, so don't expect to see anything classic or boring.

This time, Russians adapted Shakespeare's Macbeth in a 5-hour production with Michael Jackson’s tunes, wild dances celebrating the evil of power, and other nightmares in a truly postmodern way.

Find cinemas here – www.stagerussia.com/map-macbethkino

5. Drillalians

'Drillalians' by the Stanislavsky ElectroTheatre / Press photo'Drillalians' by the Stanislavsky ElectroTheatre / Press photo

This is the most avant-garde performance of this list staged by the recently opened Stanislavsky ElectroTheatre. It depicts Drillalia, a land inhabited by numerous races. This is a techno-opera that mixes different genres and according to John Freedman who translated the libretto into English, "it is also a philosophical tract (at one point he takes Ludwig Wittgenstein to task for misunderstanding the nature of silence), a mock ethnographical study, a child's fairy tale, and, at times, a bit of a political satire."

Find cinemas here – www.stagerussia.com/map-drillalians

Read more: Curtains up, shoot! How theater survived the 1917 Revolution amid gunfire

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