ТЕАТР НА ТАГАНКЕ (cf. the Wyly theatre)

– Gorky & Chekhov in Yalta

[Chekhov] warned the younger writer [Gorky] against ‘rapture,’ reminding him that grace depends on expending the least possible movement on an action …

– Michael Pilkington, Are You There, Crocodile? Inventing Anton Chekhov, Oberon Books, London, 2003, pp. 92-3

– the theatre on Taganka Square, in Moscow, former site of a prison

Early on [in the Taganka Theatre’s production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, dir. Yuri Lyubimov, 1983], as Masha declared

You must believe in something, know why you’re living, or life is empty

the theatre’s side wall slid open to reveal the wide view of Moscow which it happens to command, so that we could see the reality of what the girls were yearning for; against the silhouette of the Church of St. Martin the Confessor a military band stood playing a march, but of course they were lit by neon and tonight’s traffic was roaring. One dying regime, you might say, confronted another. The wall closed and turned out to be reflective, … the audience was left staring at their own faces. This image of lost hope gained its original force from the fact that the show opened the Taganka’s new auditorium in 1981, and no-one had any idea that the wall could do such a thing. As the evening moved forward, the cast sometimes stopped to stare at us as if asking, as in Boris Godunov, why we remained silent. When Irina spoke of the necessity of work, she stood on a little interior stage, somewhat as Nina might in Konstantin’s play in The Seagull and intoned the lines as if they were Soviet propaganda. In the last Act, Anfisa, with her official living quarters at the school, had clearly become a contended Soviet before her time. The philosophising military, a more or less humanising influence in the original, were extremely aggressive, overwhelming the sisters’ world. Military marches broke in on their ruminations, and an iconostasis suggesting a monsastery was set inside a miniature barracks. The abstract score by Edison Denisov battled with Tchaikovsky. Conventional Chekhovian props were stacked disrespectfully in a corner. Occasionally tape recording of old Moscow Art performances of the play could be heard: this mocking effect concealed a serious purpose, to offer not just Chekhov’s Three Sisters but by implication its whole history, which is, near enough, that of the Russian century. … Chekhov, protective as he was of his plays, would have understood it well, recognising in Lyubimov’s clamorous provocations a theatrical necessity …

– Ibid., pp. 116-7

– Юрий Любимов (in 2007, Yuri Lyubimov, at 90, becomes a cavalier of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun)

Lyubimov’s legendary Taganka Theater was born on 23 April 1964. From its first performances, Taganka became the voice of truth and belief, past and future, the voice of memory-concepts, which people couldn’t and shouldn’t live without. During day and night, in any weather, people were waiting at the theater doors, just to get tickets for the play. Most of the time Yuri Lyubimov based his plays on a classical genre, at the same time, they brilliantly confronted contemporary problems. Often, the authorities prohibited performances, insulted the Taganka creator and taught him how to work. But for the people of our country, Taganka was more than just a type of art, because its plays woke up the conscience.

– from Yuri Lyubimov [b. 1917] @ Taganka [1964-]