The XXI International Theatre Festival “New European Theatre” (NET) will take place in Russia on November 13 – December 16 in both Russian capitals: in Moscow, where the festival is regularly held, and in St. Petersburg, where it will be included in the program of the Theatre Olympics 2019 and the Year of the Theatre in Russia. The General Partner of the Festival is the Foundation of Mikhail Prokhorov.
As usual, the program will include world premieres, new names for the Russian theatre audience, and opportunities to see and discuss the performances with their creators.
The Festival will begin in Moscow on November 13, and just a week later, the performances of the Festival Program will move to Saint Petersburg, where they will be held as part of the Theatre Olympics 2019. On November 22 and 23 the program of the Festival will present a play that has already been performed at best festivals all over the world: “Rehearsal. History(ies) of Theatre (I)”, by famous Swiss director Milo Rau. The play tells the real-life story of a horrendous murder that took place in one of Belgian cities. Six professional and amateur actors will ponder the problem of how to show violence on stage, and where lies the boundary beyond which the spectators will not be able to just sit there and calmly watch what is going on. Actually, Rau’s show is a sample of documentary theatre, which is also at once a radical example of a psychological experiment. This provocative show will be played in the imperial style building of Alexandrinsky Theatre, which can also be considered a provocation.
An important event of the festival program is the world premiere of SIGNA, a Danish theatre company, which has taken part in such major theatre forums and locations as Theatertreffen, Wiener Festwochen, Salzburger Festspiele, Internationale Schillertage. This renowned theatre troupe will come to Russia for the first time, and will present a show specially for NET. Each SIGNA project is unique. Its projects cannot go on tour because their performances are more like 3D parallel universes, which their spectators need time to adapt to, but which in the end are perceived by them to be nothing other than honest to God reality. “Toys”, a show created specially for NET, will be presented on November 27 – December 14. The site-specific performance will take place in the Street Art Museum on the territory of the currently operational laminated plastics plant. From the first performance to the very end of the project, the script will be changing and developing with new meanings, enriched by the performers’ personal experience.
Signa and Arthur Koestler say about the project idea: “A wealthy socialite returns with her retinue to Saint Petersburg, the birthplace of her mother who had once emigrated from here, shortly before her death. Disconcerted with how little she had time to feel and experience during her trouble-free life, before she dies she wishes to catch up on what she had missed by creating a whole kingdom around her deathbed on a long abandoned factory. The citizens of this sovereign state are poor young people who she recruited off the streets of the city. Day and night they must play “The End Game” to let their queen imagine all the things she did not get to experience. The reward is quite lavish: houses, diamonds, Ferraris... but the stakes are also much higher than what one could imagine. Mistakes are unforgiveable.”
On November 30 and December 1, in the middle of the Festival program, David Espinosa will present his “World History”. This director, one of the most remarkable representatives of the school of object theatre, will present an opus, in which his main characters – small dolls that he will be removing one by one from his suitcase – will tell their tongue-in-cheek version of how the humankind came about.
And finally, an important part of the NET program in Saint Petersburg will be a new performance by Katie Mitchell, whose shows are traditionally perceived as an organic part of the feminist agenda.
The festival will close on December 12 in Saint Petersburg and on December 15–16 in Moscow with Katie Mitchell’s “Zauberland”. For this show Bernard Foccroulle and Martin Crimp have written 16 new songs that add to the Schuman/Heine cycle entitled “Love of a Poet”. Despite the fact that the show references the musical practice of the 19th century, it centers around not the European past but the painful problems of the contemporary Western society. Julia Bullock, American opera singer who has won a Grammy award and many other music prizes, will play the lead part.
NET Festival Program in Saint Petersburg, part of the Theatre Olympics 2019:
International Institute of Political Murder (Ghent, Berlin, Zurich) and Création Studio Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles (Brussels) on tour
Director: Milo Rau
Main stage of Alexandrinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg | 22, 23 November 19:00
The play by Milo Rau is the first one in this series that explores the history of theatre.
A documental story of the brutal killing of a young man in a Belgian town forms the basis of the play. But Milo Rau is interested not just in how tragic the episode is, but in the ability of theatre to talk about the tragedies of our world and transform the audience. Six professional and non-professional actors research the criminal episode, and simultaneously their own creative potential. The end result is a powerful play – a commentary against violence and an artistic-psychological experiment.
The tour is supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.
Production: Theatre company SIGNA (Copenhagen) and Festival NET
Street Art Museum at Laminated Plastics factory, Saint Petersburg | 27, 29 November, 4, 6, 10 and 12 December 20:00; 28, 30 November, 1, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13 and 14 December 14:00 and 20:00
The world premiere of a play by renowned experts of immersive theatre, specially for festival NET.
“Now that I am dying, let’s play. I’ve barely lived and seen nothing in this life. You are young and you are poor, and you have nothing to lose. I am sick and I am bored and I am in a hurry. I want your everything and I want it fast. So play by my rules and play it hard. All my riches are yours to win.”
A dying woman of significant wealth returns with her entourage to Saint Petersburg, the birth city of her estranged mother. Disappointed by how little her shielded life had to offer, she is determined to catch up before she dies. In an abandoned factory she creates a kingdom around the throne of her death bed. The citizens of her sovereign state are underpriviledged youth recruited on the streets of the city. Day and night they must play “The End Game”, to conjure up every moment that their queen missed out on. The prizes are plentiful; the mansions, the diamonds, the ferrari... But the stakes are higher than anyone bargained for. Failing is not an option.
Toys is produced with the support of Danish Arts Foundation.
Street Art Museum is the venue for this project.
Theatre company El Local Espacio de Creación(Madrid) on tour
Director: David Espinosa
New stage of Alexandrinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg | 30 November 20:00, 1 December 17:00 and 20:00
Electrotheatre Stanislavsky, Moscow | 3 December 17:00 and 20:00
A theatre of objects that talks about the significant and the knowable without using words.
David Espinosa has already twice been part of the program at NET festival. He creates works whose props can fit in a suitcase and can be performed on a small table; a theatre, where the ‘performer’ comes face-to-face with all spectators and literally addresses each one of them. All his plays are similar to a child’s game in which small objects suddenly transform, forming unexpected “inter-relationships”. The intimate nature of the proceedings contrasts effectively with the global nature of themes. Espinosa’s table can serve as a setting for a Hollywood blockbuster to all of Shakespeare’s plays at once, and in this case – the entire history of the world. Society, economy, politics and culture – Espinosa manages to address everything under the sun quite persuasively, but with a certain lightness in an engrossing, humorous way.
With the support of Embassy of Spain in Russia and Instituto Cervantes, Moscow.
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord (Paris) on tour
Director: Katie Mitchell
Komissarzhevskaya Theatre, Saint Petersburg | 12 December 19:00
Theatre Centre at Strastnoy Boulevard, Moscow | 15, 16 December 19:00
A refined laconism and enigmatic elegance characterize the musical play by Mitchell.
The series ‘Poet’s Love’ by Robert Schumann and Heinrich Heine forms the basis of this play. The composer Bernard Foccroulle and dramatist Martin Crimp got together to create 16 new songs for Katie Mitchell. These personal, lyrical compositions, nonetheless, allow for a commentary on problems of contemporary European society. The director uses a minimalistic style, but still manages to evoke the look and feel of a detective at times. American soprano Julia Bullock, winner of a Grammy and several other musical awards, plays the main role.
The Russian tour of Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord is supported by French Institute under the Embassy of France in Russia.
The shows in Saint Petersburg are part of the Theatre Olympics 2019.