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Dodin's Larger-Than-Life Plays Grab 2 Golden Mask Awards

Published: May 5, 2014 (Issue # 1808)



  • Sergei Kuryshev acts in Lev Dodin’s production of 'An Enemy of the People,' an Ibsen play about a man crushed for standing up to society.
    Photo: Viktor Vasilyev

St. Petersburg director Lev Dodin's two productions playing at the Golden Mask Festival in Moscow this year grabbed two awards out of ten nominations. The director's rendition of Friedrich Schiller's "Love and Intrigue" grabbed best large-scale dramatic production, while designer Alexander Borovsky was named best designer for his work on this show.

But awards are awards and art is art and quite often the twain between them doesn't meet.

In any case, Dodin is one of those rare artists whose work justifiably takes on an aura that is larger than life, larger, even, than the huge, swirling maelstrom of contemporary artistic activity that surrounds him. Styles, fashions, trends and modern manners passed this storied director by long ago. And, yet, we keep looking back through the haze to see what he is up to.

While it's true that Dodin is a throwback to another time, his work has deep roots in the straight-laced realism and unironic approach of the Soviet era — a relatively direct descendant of what is perceived to be Stanislavskian theater. But looking back at what Dodin does, it is amazing how powerful such an increasingly outdated kind of art can be when created by someone with Dodin's gift.

That doesn't mean Dodin always plays by the same old rules. Far from it. In "Love and Intrigue" and in Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People," both of which can be seen over the next month at the Maly Drama Theater in St. Petersburg, he applied a fine-tuned economy to these large, classic plays. In his hands "An Enemy of the People," especially, can almost be said to be a monologue enhanced with a few hard-edged group scenes.

Ibsen's "Enemy" tells the story of a principled man being crushed for standing up to weak, spineless members of society and overbearing politicians. Dodin turned it into a blistering political pamphlet, a howling rebellion against conformity, censorship, corruption and lies.

Premiering almost a year before the beginning of the information war surrounding the current Russian-Ukraine crisis, it now sounds like a bold, direct response to it. The main thrust of the play is that a doctor wishes to warn his community that a factory is poisoning the waters of the spa where he works, even if it damages his family and friends financially. But in Dodin's interpretation, the aspects of ecology and industrialization are pushed to the margins, leaving primarily a white-hot battle between truth and lies.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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