Comedy of masks
Director Igor Nevedrov dedicated The Venetian to Vsevolod Meyerhold, Alexander Tairov and Nikolai Evreinov: director-innovators, pioneers in the theatre of the first half of the 20th century who created the artistic revolution of the avant-garde. This is a tribute to unique artists and teachers, who despite all circumstances believed in their theatrical truth. It is thanks to their ecstatic belief in the necessity of the new art, tha it took shaped in the second half of the XX century. And, of course, this production is a tribute to Roman Viktyuk who has been making theatrical revolution for many years with his art.
For this reason, director connects on stage three periods: Renaissance, Silver Age and the XX century.
The audience sees on the stage a studio theatre, where a director, one can guess it’s Vsevolod Meyerhold, rehearses a piece by an unknown author of the XVI century The Venetian. He works in a new way and tries to convey to his studio actors and to the audience, that Theatre needs new forms like air. He tries to achieve this through super-theatre and foundation of the entire performing arts – commedia dell’arte. Same as great Meyerhold, disappointed in theatre methods of his teachers, the director of The Venetian questions the validity of the principle: “on stage it should be same as in life”. He found the only right for him way – the way of deliberate exposure of non-realistic nature of the theatre, declaration of the universal idea of the Game and the key role of Mask in art.
But the actors try to do everything their way, knowing that the show will not have life, if it remains the way it is seen by the author, because from the start his work is being closely watched by the actor-political commissar and by the portraits of Soviet leaders – Lenin and Stalin, occasionally taking a direct part in the performance.
In this confrontation between students and teachers both sides have their own truth. And the actors when trying to save the show by making it “hurray-patriotic”, they diligently destroy the piece in the director’s eyes. The contradiction between the artist and the authorities – one of the most sensitive issues in the performances by Roman Viktyuk, – it became the main topic in the performance of Igor Nevedrov and remains relevant today as it was many years ago.
Only one favourite disciple understood and tried to save the teacher, remaining to stand by his side. But the Teacher makes a conscious sacrifice in order to save at least one of the students for his new art and truth continued to live. His Disciple is to carry the light of his Master to those who come after him. And the new theatre will live through him and through those who will follow him.
The Venetian is a story about the beginning of non-realistic, synthetic theatre and the universal power of Game and Mask, it’s a story about of the great artists ascending to eternity.
Cast and Characters