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Dodin's Larger-Than-Life Plays Grab 2 Golden Mask Awards

Published: May 5, 2014 (Issue # 1808)



  • Sergei Kuryshev acts in Lev Dodins production of 'An Enemy of the People,' an Ibsen play about a man crushed for standing up to society.
    Photo: Viktor Vasilyev

St. Petersburg director Lev Dodin's two productions playing at the Golden Mask Festival in Moscow this year grabbed two awards out of ten nominations. The director's rendition of Friedrich Schiller's "Love and Intrigue" grabbed best large-scale dramatic production, while designer Alexander Borovsky was named best designer for his work on this show.

But awards are awards and art is art and quite often the twain between them doesn't meet.

In any case, Dodin is one of those rare artists whose work justifiably takes on an aura that is larger than life, larger, even, than the huge, swirling maelstrom of contemporary artistic activity that surrounds him. Styles, fashions, trends and modern manners passed this storied director by long ago. And, yet, we keep looking back through the haze to see what he is up to.

While it's true that Dodin is a throwback to another time, his work has deep roots in the straight-laced realism and unironic approach of the Soviet era a relatively direct descendant of what is perceived to be Stanislavskian theater. But looking back at what Dodin does, it is amazing how powerful such an increasingly outdated kind of art can be when created by someone with Dodin's gift.

That doesn't mean Dodin always plays by the same old rules. Far from it. In "Love and Intrigue" and in Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People," both of which can be seen over the next month at the Maly Drama Theater in St. Petersburg, he applied a fine-tuned economy to these large, classic plays. In his hands "An Enemy of the People," especially, can almost be said to be a monologue enhanced with a few hard-edged group scenes.

Ibsen's "Enemy" tells the story of a principled man being crushed for standing up to weak, spineless members of society and overbearing politicians. Dodin turned it into a blistering political pamphlet, a howling rebellion against conformity, censorship, corruption and lies.

Premiering almost a year before the beginning of the information war surrounding the current Russian-Ukraine crisis, it now sounds like a bold, direct response to it. The main thrust of the play is that a doctor wishes to warn his community that a factory is poisoning the waters of the spa where he works, even if it damages his family and friends financially. But in Dodin's interpretation, the aspects of ecology and industrialization are pushed to the margins, leaving primarily a white-hot battle between truth and lies.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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