stage director

Diary of a Madman, 04.02.2005

During the day Anatolij Kot was walking between stalls in the Actors Theater, where he practiced the translation of Gogol’s “Diary of a madman”. The actor seemed ill and asked not to have any photos taken during the performance so as the camera clicks did not disturb him.

In the evening the whole Minsk audience (say: whole theatrical Minsk) gathered in front of the Moscow cinema doors. The personnel of the German Embassy entered the theater separately. Not even a single seat was free. The performance title was shown. Navy blue German subtitles with Popriščin’s monologue were displayed simultaneously on a huge screen. It made it really difficult to follow what was happening on stage. Still,  five minutes after the beginning the audience did not have to read the subtitles displayed any more – the actors played in a way which made translation useless. Following the idea of the director Monika Dobrowlańska, the Russian madman turned into an eastern European immigrant who has got sunk deeply into the western society and has lost his mind having in the background the monotonous noises made by a copying machine.

Monika Dobrowlańska did not limit herself to the enormous title. The stage design is abundant in postmodernist gestures: shortly Popriščin can watch himself “from other perspective” on the screen, shortly breathtaking video photos show singing and begging girls, next, the whole set of photos presenting urban craziness of the Moscow tube flashes by. This film modules have raised the stage design to an supranational level: St Petersburg by Gogol disappeares, Dobrowlańska’s Berlin gets dissolved into thin air – action gathers momentum.

The final scene, with Popriščin, crushed by the pendulum of the understanding of his insanity, suddenly turns into the Russian language,  the remnants of inner resistance, still existing in some cynic spectators, disappear.

Stage design of “Diary of a madman” is a sophisticated, improvisation project by Monika Dobrowlańska and Anatolij Kot. It is too early to state if it will be possible to show  “Diary of a Madman” on Minsk stage. The performance was shown three times only, in TACHELES, the famous Centre of Culture, in the Schauspieler-Theater and thirdly on Witebsk stage.

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