Google and Mosfilm launch online readings of 'The Master and Margarita'
Chat with Behemoth and Koroviev
The rooftop terrace in Moscow where Woland and Azazello talk in the last chapter
The mental clinic where the reader first meets the Master
The great Satan's Ball that Margarita hosts
Google, Mosfilm studio and the Mikhail Bulgakov Museum have been intensely preparing for two special occasions: Bulgakov's 125th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the release of his acclaimed novel The Master and Margarita. The story was first published in the November 1966 issue of Moskva magazine.
Anyone interested can audition to be a narrator for a part of the novel. On Aug. 30, Google launched the website "Master and Margarita: I was there," where you can chat in Russian with two of the novel's characters, Koroviev and the cat Behemoth. After a short conversation, they will decide which of the novel's locations suits you the most and teleport you there – Margarita's mansion, a mental hospital, an apartment, or another site. There they will invite you to audition, and you can make a short video reading an excerpt of the novel. The application deadline is Oct. 5.
"We expect about 500 people will participate in the readings; 350 of them will be ordinary internet users and the rest will be well-known public figures from theater, cinema, politics and sports," Google representative Alla Zabrovskaya told RBTH.
Official logo says "Master and Margarita: I was there". Source: press photo
This is not the first project of its kind. A record-breaking online reading was held in 2014, when Tolstoy's great novel was live streamed non-stop for three days as "Karenina: Live Edition."
"Our goal was to create a project that will brush the dust off the classics and give the young generation a fresh look at very important Russian literature," Fyokla Tolstaya, the writer's descendent and the project's curator, told RBTH.
In 2015, Google hosted "Chekhov Live," online readings of short stories held in honor of the great author and playwright. The project was organized in collaboration with the Moscow Art Theater.
Literature, cinema and high technologies unite
2016 is the Year of Cinema in Russia, which prompted the organizers to pay special attention to the visual part of the readings, and the main production platform will be the country's oldest film studio, Mosfilm.
The online reading of The Master and Margarita will be live streamed on YouTube using the latest technology. Google's new 360° format will be used for the first time on such a large scale in Russia. It allows the viewer to change the camera angle and see what is around the narrator. With the help of chroma key (green screen), directors will surround the narrators with Bulgakov's virtual dream world, or, we could say, they will put the narrator into his imaginary world. All these special effects will help viewers go deeper into the novel.
Theater director Natalia Anastasieva will oversee casting and will train the narrators. Andrei Boltenko and Anton Nenashev, who produced broadcasts of the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony and Eurovision in Moscow, will be in charge of the project's visuals. They admit that they are nervous about this production more than any other, as they have a tremendous challenge: not to distract from the primary focus, Bulgakov's text.
The Bulgakov Museum director Pyotr Mansilla-Cruz says he is not surprised about the choice of the novel. According to surveys, almost the same number of people name this novel as their most loved and most hated novel.
The organizers say people should not be afraid of Bulgakov's mystery, and invite everyone to follow live on YouTube on Nov. 11 and 12. The event will be streamed from 8 Russia's cities, including Moscow and Vladivostok, as well as from Tel Aviv, as an important part of the novel takes place in Israel. The program will be divided into two parts, as is the novel, and about 20 hours of narration are planned in total.