Audience Seeing Double: Onegin at the GIFT

In the framework of the Georgian International Festival of Arts (GIFT), the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia presented Eugene Onegin’s play, directed by Rimas Tuminas. Winner of several theater awards, the play, which was highly praised by critics at a recent theatrical festival in London, showed a new, ironic, emotional and rigid vision of the well-known poem by Russian writer Alexander Pushkin.

It is always a challenge to perform Eugene Onegin on stage. The poetic work is more intended for theatrical readings than for full-fledged productions. Moreover, Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin is one of the most significant works of Russian literature, and at the same time is quite complex. According to Aleksei Kuznetsov, who plays Dmitri Larin in the play, Lithuanian director Rimas Tuminas had one important advantage that made his creation so special.

“He assesses the play from a completely different point of view, not like Russian people do. We learn Eugene Onegin at school and for us he is normal. But Tuminas showed his Lithuania opinion, and I think he did it very accurately,” said Kuznetsov.

The play was very easy and clear; long poetic monologues and dialogues gradually replaced by plastic theater to the accompaniment of Faustas Latenas music. The performances of the actors were very moving and insightful, leaving some audience members in tears or speechless.

However, sometimes those tears were replaced by laughter. Alexander Pushkin is considered a “hooligan” of Russian literature; he was an experimenter and tried to introduce a new look to literature. Rimas Tuminas tried to follow in his footsteps and endowed his heroes with emotional colors, and by dividing the characters, giving the audience an opportunity to see on the stage young and adult Onegin at the same time- two actors creating a complete image of the main protagonist.

The Vakhtangov theatre brought the entire troupe of Eugene Onegin to Tbilisi and from November 3 to November 5, showing the local audience three similar- but at the same time different- versions of the play.

“In fact, it is one play, but emotions and the interactions between the actors are very different,” said Aleksei Guskov, who plays the adult Onegin. “Our duet with Victor Dobronravov (young Onegin) is fundamentally different from the way he plays with Sergei Makovetsky (second performer of adult Onegin). We communicate with each other, constantly perform closely, and have a strong relationship. Even during our performances we decided to change a little bit the end of the play – we have not just a dialogue between adult Onegin and Tatiana, but young Onegin also communicates with us,” he explained.

Eugene Onegin was one of the most anticipated performances at the 2015 GIFT festival and earned much praise. Tickets were sold out even prior to the premier in Georgia. Each of the three days, the audience greeted the performance with a standing ovation and this witness acan boldly say, without exaggeration, that the Griboedov Russian State Drama Theatre, which hosted the play, has never seen such ovations.

Eka Karsaulidze

05 November 2015 23:05