Author: Valentina REZNIKOVA
The Russian Drama Theater finished the summer marathon with a premiere of the play Ceremony based on Eugène Ionesco's play The King Is Dying. Director Arshad Alakberov returned to St. Petersburg, to his professional duties as an actor, director, and teacher. He is expected in the Youth Theater on Fontanka, at the theaters The Shelter of a Comedian, Behind the Black Creek.
The premiere was a real hit among the theater community of Baku. And those who think that the director failed to reveal the genre of absurdity, and those who disagreed with his approach, still agree that the performance was genuine theatrical art professionally made and remarkable for acting, artistically expressive design of the stage. The director managed to achieve the main thing: unconditional contact with the audience! For two hours, the spectators have watched with interest what is happening to Beranger the First (People's Artist Fakhraddin Manafov), who falls into the border zone between life and death. Characteristics, which were awarded to spectators during the intermission and after the performance of the actor's play, lined up in the following chain of epithets: a virtuosic, talented, powerful game.
Before the performance in the foyer of the theater, there was an atmosphere of expectation of meeting with the beautiful.
The king is also a man
Beranger the First played by Fakhraddin Manafov is a king. A darling of fate, who was lucky to be born with a silver spoon. And now he must go to blue yonder, as a mere mortal. But before the transition from one dimension to another, Beranger must kill the king in himself! Simply put, he must cleanse his soul from the sins of men. This is the most difficult thing. To kill means to get rid of all his previous abilities, which is diagnosed as narcissism. The actor, along with his character, goes through this torturous way, turning Beranger the First into a simple Beranger: a man without titles and awards. Long and desperately clinging to the privileges of the living, Beranger suddenly realizes that before Her Majesty the Death all is equal. Death is inevitable and inexorable. It is the law and the inevitability. But the death is also a guide. Hypostasis of power, which can help Beranger during the transition. The role of this lady named Margarita is brilliantly played by the Honored Art Worker Mehriban Zeki. The actress with a tragic potential, well-entered into the composition of the artists engaged in the play, created the image of a heroine who, without being a man, suffers for all of humanity. More precisely - for all his incorrigible sins, the unwillingness to change spiritually in Time. Antithesis of Margarita is Maria. She is played by Maria Dubovitskaya. She defends the interests of Beranger as a lawyer, urging Margarita to be less demanding, begging for him one more chance to live on, enjoying the pleasures that he has always knew. Doctor of Oleg Amirbayov is the conscience of Beranger the First, his second "I", who has lost his life in the labyrinths. It mimics (adapts) to circumstances with incredible speed, speaking to the king as a soothsayer and astrologer, or a bacteriologist who discovers in the body of the king a virus called "narcissus", the surgeon helping the king to cut off rudimentary earthly attachments, then as his executioner ruthlessly announcing the verdict: the earthly way is over and it is necessary to carry out the transition! And only Juliet, remarkably played by the actress Hajar Aghayeva, sympathizes with Beranger always. She does not care whether he is a king or a homeless person or a janitor. She just loves him. Regardless of his social status. Juliett of Aghaeva is the absolute Love, which does not require anything from Beranger. Including spiritual perfection! She just wants him to be happy. Always. Hajar plays an aged woman. A trick that has left the theaters long ago! But how convincing is she in her role! Plastic action, voice (embodying the eternally young feeling of love), emotional fullness: everything indicates that we have an actress of extraordinary talent. However, like Amirbayov and Dubovitskaya, who opened to the viewer the facets of new professional opportunities, once again confirmed that there are young actors in the Russian Drama Theater that are capable of providing the theater with a sustainable professional future. The newcomer of the theatre, Natig Huseynov, who plays the Guardian, was also not "lost" among experienced professional colleagues. This is his first role on the stage of the theater. And we must assume - not the last.
Reasoning about like-minded people in the theater is a myth invented by Soviet critics. And it rarely happens that actors have the same view with the director on the play so much that it really "dies" in them. This is the case. The story of Beranger is the story of everyone sitting in the hall and those who play on stage. But it's about the actors involved in the play. Their participation in this work is a unique case of professionally matched people. Coincidental enough that formed an ensemble of professionals who play without hypocrisy and false pathos. Each of them confidently holds the bar of his skill and is a worthy partner to colleagues.
The genre of the play is defined by Arshad Alakbarov as well as Ionesco himself - absurdity. Eugene Ionesco entered the history of the theater of the 20th century as the king of the theater of the absurd. So what kind of genre is this - absurd?
The term "theater of the absurd" belongs to the American critic Martin Esslin. Many dramatists denied the definition they gave, claiming that their works are no more absurd than real reality. But, despite the endless controversy, the genre gained popularity. The founders of the "new theater" considered being irrational and illogical: in this world a person is doomed to loneliness, suffering and death.
It is believed that the theater of absurd dates back to the philosophy of Dada, poetry from non-existent words and avant-garde art of the 1910s-20s. In the theater of the absurdity, reality and fiction are equalized in rights, the world is perceived as an infinite variety of versions. This is the world on the contrary, inside out, anti-world. Thus, absurdity meant denial of logic, inconsistency of behavior and speech. However, in order for the absurd ideas of alienation and horror to manifest themselves to the whole world, mankind needed to receive a tragic experience of the catastrophes and shocks of the first half of the twentieth century. The theater of the absurd did not appear immediately after the end of World War II: first it was a shock, and then - awareness of everything that happened. Only after this, the artist's psyche turned the results of the world catastrophe into material for artistic and philosophical analysis.
Ceremony was written in 1962, but the censorship prohibited the title of the play because of a similarity with a film with the same title, which was distributed in France. Ionesco was forced to name his play differently, The King is Dying, although, in my opinion, it does not accurately reflect the essence of what is happening on stage, like the original one.
For the first time, the author of Bald Singer, Rhino, and Chairs, draws attention to the essence of metaphysical views. His philosophy of life and death are extremely important. So, what is absurd in this play? Maybe the dialogues between the Beranger the Man and the hypostases that are not human beings? From the perspective of objective reality, the whole story is absurd. In other words, talking to someone who does not exist physically, who cannot be seen with eyes. On the other hand, what if we look at the same situation as a constant polemic, conversation, dispute, internal dialogue with ourselves? A dialogue with your second "I"? Absurd? If one talks out loud to himself, besides emotionally, then it may seem that the person is crazy. Is it absurd or not? Well, what if this is an internal dialogue and nobody hears you? Absurd or not? Objective assessment of reality? Introspection? Everyone in the audience must answer these questions himself.
While staging Ceremony, director almost quotes the thought of the playwright: "To call the world absurd is ridiculous, because we are no smarter than the God." He quotes but at the same time he gives the audience an opportunity to draw a conclusion: what in this version of the story of the King Beranger is absurd and what is reality.