Online readings of 'The Master and Margarita' launched

Mansion of Margarita

Mansion of Margarita

masterimargarita.withgoogle.com
Across the world, Russian speakers will have a unique opportunity to participate in a virtual reality reading of the classic Russian novel, ‘The Master and Margarita’.

 

Margarita's mansion
masterimargarita.withgoogle.com

Margarita's mansion

Chat with Behemoth and Koroviev
masterimargarita.withgoogle.com

Chat with Behemoth and Koroviev

The rooftop terrace in Moscow where Woland and Azazello talk in the last chapter
masterimargarita.withgoogle.com

The rooftop terrace in Moscow where Woland and Azazello talk in the last chapter

The mental clinic where the reader first meets the Master
masterimargarita.withgoogle.com

The mental clinic where the reader first meets the Master

The great Satan's Ball that Margarita hosts
masterimargarita.withgoogle.com

The great Satan's Ball that Margarita hosts

 
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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 highly acclaimed novel ‘The Master and Margarita’. The story was first published in the November 1966 issue of Moskva magazine.

Those interested can audition to be a narrator for a part of the novel. Google on August 30 launched the website "Master and Margarita: I was there," where it is possible to chat in Russian with two of the novel's characters, Koroviev and Behemoth the cat. After a brief conversation, they will decide which of the novel's locations best suits you 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 from the novel. The deadline for applications is October 5.

"We expect about 500 people to participate in the readings; 350 of them will be ordinary internet users and the rest will be well-known public figures from theatre, cinema, politics and sports," Google representative Alla Zabrovskaya told RIR.

This is not the first project of its kind. A record-breaking online reading of ‘Anna Karenina’ was held in 2014, when (Leo) Tolstoy's great novel was streamed live 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 great author’s descendent and project curator, told RIR.

Google hosted "Chekhov Live" in 2015, online readings of short stories held in honour of the great author and playwright. The project was organized in collaboration with the Moscow Art Theatre.

Literature, cinema and high technologies unite

2016 is the Year of Cinema in Russia, prompting the organizers to pay special attention to the visual part of the readings, so the main production platform will be Mosfilm, the country's oldest film studio.

Official logo says "Master and Margarita: I was there". Source: press photoOfficial logo says "Master and Margarita: I was there". Source: press photo

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. This allows the viewer to change the camera angle and see what is around the narrator. With the help of the ‘chroma’ key (green screen), directors will surround the narrators with Bulgakov's virtual dream world, placing the narrator into the author’s imaginary world. These special effects will help viewers go deeper into the novel.

Theatre director Natalia Anastasieva will oversee casting and train the narrators. Andrei Boltenko and Anton Nenashev, who produced broadcasts of the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics and Eurovision in Moscow, will be in charge of the project's visuals. They admit that they are more nervous about this production than any other, as they have a tremendous challenge: not to distract listeners/viewers from Bulgakov's text, the primary focus.

Pyotr Mansilla-Cruz, the Bulgakov Museum director, says he is not surprised by 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 scared of Bulgakov's mystery, and invite everyone to follow live on YouTube on Nov. 11 and 12. The event will be streamed from 8 Russian cities, including Moscow and Vladivostok, as well as from Tel Aviv, as an important part of the novel takes place in Israel. The programme will be divided into two parts, as is the novel. Around 20 hours of narration have been planned.

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