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“I came to tell a story about people”

Director Rashid Zagidullin presented three performances to the repertoire of the Taganrog theater and returned again for the fourth.

Now he is “free-floating”, but he has decades of incomparable professional experience behind him: director and actor of the Kazan Youth Theater, chief director of the Tatar Drama Theater and teacher of the Kazan Academy of Culture and Art. “Grifters or aristocrats?” – one of the most popular performances of the last season of our theater. The sentimental comedy “Jack” and the fairy tale “The Three Ivans” ended it on a happy, magical note. There is another performance on the horizon – “Killer Whale” based on the play by Alexei Tolstoy, which, we hope, will be a great start to the 197th theater season. But more on this a little later, so as not to jinx it: theater people are very superstitious people.

Photo courtesy of the theater. A.P. Chekhov

About difficult times without love

Contrary to social prejudices, the director does not consider himself to be a “special class”, but as a person from the people, he finds new meanings in everyday communication: he listens to people’s conversations on the street, on the tram, in queues. This is precisely the simple secret of the charm of the director’s works – performances for people and about people, and also, of course, always about love.

“Love and kindness are difficult to play, but evil can be refined endlessly,” the director is convinced. In difficult times for all of us, love, happiness, goodness have become mystical categories: “We are constantly looking for the enemy in everything and everyone.” Therefore, now, in the context of topical events, Rashid Zagidullin’s performances look like “black sheep”. Once upon a time, the director staged a tough play “Mother Courage” based on Brecht against the backdrop of the Second Chechen War, but this was “youthful maximalism, but now he has become more mature and there is no desire to assert himself at the expense of other people’s tears.”

About the golden mean

Zagidullin never strives to please the viewer. Moreover, he is rarely satisfied with himself and every time, leaving after delivery, he thinks that much is still unfinished, “somewhere they didn’t understand me, somewhere I didn’t understand.” In addition, after some time, “mindsets change,” and performances require adjustments or are completely scrapped.

Popular performances that have existed for years are like a “living corpse” for the director: “In a modern theater, the advantage often lies not with the director or the chief director, but with the ticket sales representative.” These are not modern trends, and, citing theater critic Alexei Bartoshevich, Rashid Zagidullin assures that Shakespeare also wrote for ordinary people, and not for critics. In attempts to modernize the classics, he often sees how they try to pass off some kind of their own worldview as Shakespeare, “creating a spectacle that is more convenient to sell.” As a rule, in his opinion, in such performances there is no goal of what emotion to get: “The main thing is that it is there.”

Although Rashid Mullagalievich clearly understands that modern theater is a place where people are entertained. He does not believe that performances change the character of people: “We give a person the opportunity to think about his existence for a second, but only a few change something in their lives, and then before the age of twenty-five.” But even these units are encouraging, although “the theater does not educate, but only hints,” but hints, apparently, in an entertaining manner, because the director is for “a synthesis between instruction and entertainment.”

About directing in general

Rashid Zagidullin calls himself a craftsman and thinks that for success, as in any craft, “professional experience, natural abilities and socio-psychological skills are important.” And in the theater you cannot do without mistakes, because “every time you watch the same performance, you notice where you would have done it differently.”

He is always wary of the words “postmodernism” and “experimental theater.” “Each performance is already an experiment, and all other sophistications are not for the viewer, but to please theater experts, so that the performance can be written and talked about in the theater world.” Rashid admits that it is difficult to photograph his performances, because there are no staged pretentious poses. In his experience, often temperamental photographs are an indicator not of the quality of the performance, but of the skill of the photographer. Pathos for the director is incompatible with the deep meaning of the play: “In life we ​​don’t shout about secret things, to say something important, sometimes one look is enough for an actor.” He is also an ardent opponent of dividing the audience into classes and during rehearsals asks the artists to give their best, not to simplify or create primitive characters. “Don’t consider the viewer worse than yourself” is the golden rule.

All these principles are very familiar to the Taganrog troupe, which has almost become one of Rashid Zagidullin’s own. He is glad that the officialdom in communication is gradually subsiding and common ground is being found. With each visit, he never ceases to admire the internal atmosphere: “The Taganrog Theater is, of course, a home for actors, where every person, the history of the theater and the city itself are valued.” And in the city itself, according to Zagidullin, it is also very cozy and warm and they also carefully cherish the cultural heritage.

About the premiere of “Jack”

In the past, Rashid Zagidullin was attached to national drama and partly to Russian classics, so he begins to discover modern authors. The play “Jack” by Victor Olshansky, which was proposed by Sergei Davydovich Gert himself, immediately impressed the director, especially the text and the idea of ​​​​a New Year’s miracle. The fact that pensioner Nashchokin from “Jack” is an angel (in a charming, heartfelt performance by Honored Artist Sergei Gert) and not a person is the director’s fantasy find. Like the genre of the play – a sentimental comedy (this is the result of a long search by Rashid Zagidullin himself). “Jack is not just a comedy where you can mindlessly sit and laugh, there are a lot of funny sentiments.”

The viewer may think that the play is about relationships between adults, but the director refutes this: “The play is about the fact that a child needs a father.” It is no coincidence that “the wizard Nashchokin” first casts the main character’s colleague, Tregubenko, for the role of the father (Maxim Ushmaev makes the character as ridiculous, pathetic and a failure in every sense as possible). And then he still returns his real father – “not the best, but not the worst either.”

Despite the fact that “a teenage girl will have a dad on Sunday,” the ending remains intriguingly open: will Nika Kopylova forgive her unlucky husband and be with him? Actress Tatyana Alekseeva, who played the role of the main character, as always, amazes with her creative versatility and surprises with yet another unique image. The director is unshakable about her: “Nika is too self-sufficient, an independent woman. She liked Nashchokin as an accomplished mature man because, unlike her fugitive husband, he took the male part of the responsibility. She knows how to earn money, but there is no one to fix the faucet or take a walk with the child when there are deadlines at work.” Continuing, Rashid Mullagalievich reflects: “After all, Nashchokin is not a partner for Nika, but a man of senior worship who can help and support – a brother or grandfather.”

In addition, the line of difficult relationships between the “fatherless” Nika Kopylova and her mother Sofya Arkadyevna (Svetlana Nesvetova) is obvious. Nika’s tyrant mother did not teach her to live a happy life, and, in principle, she does not allow her to live, and the director confirms our guesses: “Nika has been struggling with the psychological pressure of her mother all her life, but our heroine, surprisingly, has a very long-term “patience.”

Our observation that “Jack” is a very female performance, where men do not have much importance – “flicker in the background”, and the only real man Nashchokin appears as a fairy-tale unreal hero, does not surprise the director, because there is a sad fact: “Our society is sorority.” Rashid Zagidullin recalls his trip to Turkey, where he staged a play in Ankara and for the first time met a different society built on men. “From generation to generation, all the responsibility lies with women,” the director contrasts and immediately adds: “It’s also mostly ladies who go to the theater, bringing their spouses with them “for show.” But for the director, skeptical men are the litmus test of the performance: “I like to watch from the balcony how stern men suddenly relax and enthusiastically follow the action – this is an indicator that the performance is a success.”

The play “Jack” turned out to be very sincere, kind and bright: “In the fifties there was such a thing as a conflict-free play, where there were no negative and positive characters.” And, according to Rashid Mullagalievich, the play “Jack” is “a fight between the very good and the very good.” Even the scoundrel Fyodor (played by Roman Pylaev) – Nika’s husband and Lyuba’s (Elizaveta Afanasyeva) father – turns out to be not entirely so fallen. The director admires the final cute discovery, so beloved by the viewer, when Nashchokin puts on his wings at the end and reads an announcement about a missing kitten, which means a new miracle will happen.

After the performance, every person will certainly have hope that there is still something bright left in the world, that the most important thing was, is and will be, of course, family. And a miracle can happen to any of us, at least on New Year’s Eve.

Olga GOLOVKOVA, photo by Sergei Plishenko

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