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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 Dodin’s 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 But looking back at what Dodin does, it is amazing how powerful such an increasingly outdated kind of art can be when created by someone with Dodin's gift.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

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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