THE HISTORY OF THE THEATRE
Perm Theatre «U Mosta», created in 1988 thanks to the incredible energy of the director Sergei Fedotov, literally burst the theatrical situation of Perm with bright, non-standard performances. This is an author’s theatre. The fabulous idea of Sergei Fedotov to create the world’s first mystical theatre got its happy realization.
The Nytva Youth Theatre Studio (the of city of Nytva, Perm region), founded in 1983 by Sergei Fedotov, became the «first final rehearsal» of the future «U Mosta» Theatre. This is exactly where Sergei Fedotov’s artistic experiments and search of his own directing language began. Very soon Fedotov’s performances – bright and original in the manner of acting and directing – became known outside the city of Perm. The audience from different cities of Russia specially came to see these performances. From 1984 to 1986 Fedotov joined the Army in the Far East near Khabarovsk where he organized the first soldiers’ theatre in Russia. After finishing his service he got an invitation to work in Perm State Arts Institute as a teacher at the directing faculty. A year later he created his own theatre in Perm.
In 1988 the «Nytva» and «Far East» rehearsals were completed with the opening of a new theatre in Perm, located in the small hall of the Culture center of the telephone plant.
Initially the theatre got its name due to the close location to the Bridge of the Kama river, but gradually the mysterious word-combination «Theatre http://teatr-umosta.ru/eng/theatre-history/“U Mosta» (at the bridge) became a brand, expressing the theatre’s artistic concept. Fedotov’s productions are, in point of fact, a bridge between the real and the supernatural, the usual and the mystical, the conscious and subconscious.
The Theatre’s first performance was «The Mandate» by Nikolai Erdman. The opening night was on the 7th of October and this date is considered to be the theatre’s birthday. In 1989 Fedotov staged the following plays: «The Lark» by Jehan Anouilh, «Bdym» by S. Zlotnikov, «The Dragon» by E. Shwartz and «The Beast» by M. Gindin and V. Sinakevitch, which became a landmark for the Theatre and in which a new manner of acting was born – strange, frightening but at the same time incredibly attractive and hypnotic, that astonished the audience and the theatre critics at the All-Russia festival «Footlights of friendship 1990», held in Tyumen and where the performance was awarded with Grand Prix.
The incredible poignancy, «nakedness» of the actors’ existence discovered the all fable universal nature of the play about the world after a nuclear catastrophe that wiped off the face of the earth the humankind and terminated even the memory of it. After «The Beast» was performed, the Theatre started to be spoken as of a theatre phenomenon and a founder of the mysticism on the stage.
In 1990 the performance «Pannochka» (a play by N.Sadur based on Gogol’s «Viy»), which became a legendary later, was staged in the «U Mosta» Theatre. Exactly after this performance the theatre started to be called a mystical and was recognized the right of a pioneer of the mystical world on the stage. The play being performed for over 18 years and always a full house, the performance has been played for about 2000 times and has become a real symbol for the «U Mosta» Theatre , as «The Seagull», in its time, has become a symbol for the Moscow Art Theatre.
In 1992 the theater acquired the status as «municipal» and got a building of its own (11, Kuibyshev St.), which was again nearby the Kama bridge. The reconstruction of a new theater took only a month, simultaneously there were rehearsals in the theatre. The new stage was marked with a premiere – «Marriage» by N. Gogol. Again it became a theatrical event. Sergei Fedotov offered the version of a play, quite unusual for the traditional staging of «Marriage». It seemed that after the Efros’ performance «Marriage» «it is hardly to reveal something else». The Efros' story is originated from «The Overcoat». The «U Mosta» Theatre's story about a «small person» Podkolyosin has turned into a real «completely incredible event». Instead of a lyrical comedy Fedotov has staged a phantasmagoria where Kochkarev turns out to be a devil, who is directing his devilish performance.
The magical stage world in the Theatre «U Mosta» is largely created due to the specific preferences in literature. The main range of authors is, in various respects, linked to mysticism (N.Gogol, M.Bulgakov, F.Dostoevsky, W.Shakespeare, B.Stoker). It is not by chance that the Theatre doesn’t limit itself to staging just one play by a certain author, thus creating trilogies and so on. Such kind of approach gives a possibility of thorough research and getting to the very essence of the author’s world, his unique logic with all its paradoxes and riddles.
The Theatre became widely known after a cycle of plays by Gogol which were a reflection of all forms of mystical world perception of the author. Sergei Fedotov revealed the concealed signs of the presence of mystical which Gogol actually talked about in each of his works, but, which, nevertheless, were often omitted during the staging. Gogol’s plays are mostly staged as a real life comedy or a satire. Fedotov, in fact, has reached the ideas of the philosopher D.Merezhkovskiy, having shown on the stage, that there is a devil in each of Gogol’s works. In «Pannochka» and «Evenings on a farm near Dikanka» the mystical is uncovered. This is an atmosphere of the night – alarming, mysterious, shimmering, ghostly – where the personified devil and a witch are acting. In «The Gamblers» the mystical is coded in the very idea of the game, gambling, obsession, which is growing with every minute until it reaches the total deceit. In «Marriage» all characters are existing in a fantastic world, possessed by the power of devil, who suddenly appears within the image of Kochkarev.
Shakespearean trilogy of the «U Mosta» Theatre – «Hamlet», «Romeo and Juliet», «Twelfth Night» – reveals the artistic world of another kind, where the categories of destiny, doom, catastrophes, mixed with passion and blood, become meaningful. Despite the deep and unique author style and the emphasis on magic – Shakespeare of Sergei Fedotov was definitely perceived by theatre critics as classical, exceptionally precise and attentive to the aesthetics and atmosphere of the Renaissance theatre as well as to the poetic matter of its texts. The Bulgakov triad («depiction of three hells») – «The Master and Margarita», «Zoya’s Apartment» and «Heart of a Dog» is an eccentric, bright, bold game with the fifth dimension, parallel world, the dead men’s space, built with the feeling of style and smart irony peculiar to Fedotov.
The aesthetics of the paradox has become another side of the theatre’s literature interests. «U Mosta» is the only theatre having in its repertoire eight performances based on the plays by contemporary Irish playwright Martin McDonagh: «The Beauty Queen of Leenane», «A Skull in Connemara», «The Lonesome West», «The Cripple of Inishmaan», «A Behanding in Spokane», «The Lieutenant of Inishmore», «The Pillowman», «Hangmen». It was Sergei Fedotov who brought this author to the Russian audience. There are several dozens of plays, nowadays, by the Irish playwright, that are being staged in Russia. The phenomenon of McDonagh’s popularity in the theatre can only compete with his Oscar-winning cinema experiments: short film «Six Shooter» and full-length films «In Bruges» and «Seven Psychopaths». At first it may seem that such kind of aesthetics is contraindicated to Russian theatre school, however Perm theatre has proved the opposite, having found the key to the world of McDonagh’s characters.
The «Irish» productions of the «U Mosta» Theatre became winners of 12 prestigious festivals. «The Lonesome West» was performed at the «Golden Mask» Festival among the best performances of 2008 and became a revelation.
Having staged the whole Leenane trilogy («The Lonesome West», «The Beauty Queen of Leenane», «A Skull in Connemara»), Sergei Fedotov proposed his version of a play from the Aran trilogy - «The Cripple of Inishmaan», in which he revealed a completely different, non-actionable and non-brutal McDonagh, proved the ambiguousness and multidimensionality of his dramaturgic thinking and discovered the lyrical depth of the Irish author’s stories, which were unnoticed before. In his fourth «Aran» performance the Perm director has managed to recreate the unique nature of McDonagh’s humour, to release the energy of comic, enabling the actors to compose their characters as true Irish «queer folk», hiding a fierce and desperate struggle with reality and all its political and historical catastrophes behind their strangeness. In 2010 the Theatre «U Mosta» took part in the main Russian festival with the performance «The Cripple of Inishmaan» and became a winner of the «Golden Mask» National Theatre Award and received a special Jury Prize.
The secret of such success is not only in honorable status of a pioneer but also in the absolute and incredible coincidence of ideas of Sergei Fedotov’s mystical theatre and the paradox and original logic of McDonagh. The word «paradox», constantly repeated by the director in relation to McDonagh, is actually his own artistic method not only in the style of the performance, but in the process of his work with the actors. The structure of McDonagh’s dramaturgic texts presumes an original artistic world, in the centre of which there are weird, queer characters. The riddle and astonishment point of McDonagh’s thinking is concentrated in them, an absurd contradiction of the Irish mindset. The stylistics of the «U Mosta» Theatre, built on the work with psychophysics and the energy of an actor, is perfect for discovering the language of McDonagh.