The article focuses on the recycling of Soviet culture in productions of contemporary Russian theatre. In 2017, Victor Ryzhakov staged at Alexandrinsky theatre An Optimistic tragedy. A Farewell Ball, Asya Voloshina's remake of a play written by Vsevolod Vishnevsky in 1932-1933. Such directors as Alexander Tairov, Georgy Tovstonogov, Mark Zakharov, and others had turned to An Optimistic Tragedy during the crucial moments of Soviet theatre history. In the 21sl century this play has become claimed again. However, the interpretation of the text and its theatrical language drastically changed. The issues of intergenerational relationships and memory of the historical past have come to the fore. The story of anarchist sailors got a new birth largely due to an experimental approach to music in the performance. Music and chorus were central components of Vishnevsky's play. In the first edition of An Optimistic Tragedy, the chorus represented a metaphor of the court of history. In the following stage versions of An Optimistic Tragedy its role has been decreased till in Ryzhakov's production the sailors that constituted the chorus became passive witnesses of history, the ghosts of the past. Such evolution of the chorus was accompanied by techniques of postdramatic theatre (cross-casting, retreat from the original play), engagement of top hits, poems, popular music, and rap songs, written by Voloshina specifically for A Farewell Ball. Thus, A Farewell Ball may be called a complicated pastiche that combines texts of different periods and genres. To disclose the mechanisms of cultural selection, Ryzhakov applies the method of etudes. Such fragmentality and polyphony embody the chaos of revolution with juxtaposed voices narrating its personal stories.
Translated title of the contribution From An Optimistic Tragedy to a "Revolutionary Concert": Recycling of Soviet Historical Past in Contemporary Russian Theatre
Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)107-127
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

    Research areas

  • Alexander Tairov, Asya Voloshina, Georgy Tovstonogov, Optimistic tragedy, Victor Ryzhakov, Vsevolod Vishnevsky, chorus, postdramatic theatre, recycling of Soviet culture

    Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

ID: 104047108