01-06-2024 | 17:00
Stage adaptation: Rimas Tuminas, Maria Peters Translated to Hebrew by Roy Chen Directed by Rimas Tuminas
Scenography: Adomas Jacovskis Costumes: Olga Filatova Music: Giedrius Puskunigis Light: Alexander Sikirin Sound: Michael Vaisburd Dramaturgy: Katya Sassonsky Choreography: Anželika Cholina Director Assistant: Daria Shamina
Cast Anna Karenina: Efrat Ben-Tzur Aleksei Karenin, her husband: Gil Frank / Israel (Sasha) Demidov Aleksei Vronsky, an officer: Avi Azoulay Stiva, Anna`s brother: Alon Friedman Dolly, his wife: Karin Seruya Kitty, her sister: Neta Roth / Roni Einav Levin: Miki Leon Sergey, his brother: Yuval Yanai Wanderer: Nikita Goldman-Kokh
Coproduction with Les Gemeaux, Sceaux, France.
First performance: January 25th, 2023.
Duration - 2 hours 30 minutes with intermission.
Working on the play, based on Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, I knew that I could not leave aside his other work, Anna Karenina. These are very different texts in their motives for action and influence on the characters: in one, external forces are at work, and Tolstoy asks fundamental questions like "What is the cause of everything?" or "Who and how affects the existence of good or evil"; in the other, people themselves become the force, the element that destroys worlds, creates them, damages and heals them simultaneously. Anna Karenina and War and Peace share one type of hero - a man in search of truth, one universal truth, behind which is peace, reconciliation, goodness and happiness. Of course, this truth is impossible to find, so the hero or heroine remains in search of it forever, or as long as their human strength allows. Anna Karenina is traditionally seen as a kind of victim of circumstances: marriage to a man she does not love, a boring, monotonous life with nothing more than feelings for her son, so Vronsky's whirlwind, even if it destroys all the usual routine, is lifesaving, it rescues Anna from her captivity. I am far from this interpretation, where Alexei Karenin is a scoundrel and a dry man who has imprisoned a poor woman, and Anna is a bright unhappy angel. On the contrary, I see her not one-dimensionally, but as a concentration of all possible female incarnations: she is a tender mother, a grumpy wife, a lover jealous to the extreme, generous and kind to others, and a greedy envious woman - in her light and darkness exist inseparably, as well as pain and pleasure. She tries to build her new happiness on the ruins of her past life, but acts absurdly, rudely, cruelly even, without regard for the feelings of others. Kiti, Doly, Vronsky, Karenin, Sergei - all become victims of Anna's charms, all follow her, succumbing to her charm, strength, beauty, but the further she takes them into her world, the more it becomes clear that this is a dark kingdom, where a lot of suffering. At the same time, the richness of Tolstoy's novel does not allow us to focus only on this sadomasochistic Karenina line, both the author and the characters pull further, higher, striving to point out that despite the impossibility of finding one immutable truth, one must always keep looking. Usually all attempts to film the novel or put it on the theatrical stage end with Anna's suicide, despite the fact that Tolstoy has an entire part after that, nineteen chapters more, mostly devoted to Konstantin Levin's spiritual quest. Levin goes through ascesis, romantic disillusionment to finding his own self, to the freedom to express and embody his thoughts and desires. To convey this inner turmoil, to find a form for it, to play it, abandoning the intonations of admonition, is an extraordinary task. What Tolstoy allowed in prose on stage is difficult to fulfill, but not impossible. One cannot preach, one cannot prove, one cannot insist, but one can speak to the audience in the same language and cast a ray of light on what seems dark, difficult and gloomy. Again, the experience of War and Peace suggests that the viewer is ready and willing to hear words that will change his consciousness. We have to select a lot, from piles of verbal ore - the most precious things about love, kindness, divine providence, the things that are important to everyone at all times. In a sense, working on "Anna Karenina" in general means fighting stereotypes and misconceptions. That's how I feel about it. The whole world has read this novel and decided that Russian literature is tragic: women there throw themselves under a train, happy fathers of families think about suicide, young officers try to shoot themselves. If you read it that way, yes, a hopeless story. And if you open the novel's finale, its closing words, "every minute of life is not only not meaningless as it was before, but has an unquestionable sense of the good I have power to put into it!" It is not a finale of unconditional and limitless happiness, but it is better, maybe. Tolstoy asks questions serially, the last one being: where does the pain go when the body recovers? Each of the characters stares at this question one day and seeks a resolution. Is it possible that happiness is only the absence of fear and suffering? Or is it the ultimate degree of one's own freedom, the absolute isolation from painful interactions with others, because others cease to be someone separate and special, and become only objects fulfilling one function or another. Tolstoy argues about the nature of pain, looks for its origins, understands its mechanisms of action, but in the end humbles himself and admits as if it were an element, eternal, not subject to any change. It cannot be defeated, ignored, but you can walk through and find yourself a little different on the other side. Levin succeeds, Anna does not.