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On memory and spirituality
Written by   
, 29 2011

I accidentally came across this article by Grigory Zaslavsky, published on March 14th, 2011. Youmay read it in full on the website of RIA 'Novosti', but Ionly wish to quote a fragment.

ImageGrigory Zaslavsky. Theplace where last year there was ‘A Miracle’

I heard it in the subway: the musical ‘An Ordinary Miracle’ was closing for the season, playing only until March 27th, and here Iwas still getting around to going to the premiere. Ikept getting around to it, but never got to it, even though Iknew that it was put on by Ivan Popovski, a student of Peter Fomenko, famous for his plays that are put on stage at his teacher’s ‘Workshop’ and at the Theater on Kamburova. OlegGlushkov was choreographer, and he was also famous for setting to dance Valery Todorovski’s movie ‘Hipsters’. Healso had performances at the Strastny theater center in Moscow, as well as at the School of Dramatic Art. Nowhe and Mark Zakharov were finishing work on ‘Peer Gynt’ at the Lenkom this premiere is scheduled for the end of March. Among those performing were to be Irina Lindt, Yuri Mazihin, and, by the way, many of those who worked on ‘Nord-Ost’.

And that is what this is allabout.

The building on Melnikov Street, Iknew it back when it was the Palace of Culture for SBF #1, that is, the State Bearing Factory. Somesort of an anthropomorphic, humanoid construct of bearings still stands on the ground floor there. OnceI went there for a concert while still in music school. Ieither sang or maybe even played the violin, very badly, and another time Iremember Ijust read some verses from Mayakovsky. Oneday our class came back for a concert, Iremember a performance by Vyacheslav Spesivtsev, who back then was artistic director of Theatre-Studio on Krasnaya Presnya, back when you could never get tickets. Hedid a pantomime: sort of leaning his body forward, portraying a man pressed into a doorbell In2001, they started putting on ‘Nord-Ost’, a musical based on Kaverin’s novel ‘Two Captains’. Itwas a good show, written by two former KSP students: Georgi Vasilyev and Alexei Ivashchenko (the famous ‘Ivasi’ duet), and with good actors: playing ‘Nord-Ost’ were Yuri Mazihin, Yekaterina Guseva (she sang so well that since then she has recitals at the House of Music).

The life of the musical, and, worse, of 130persons ended in October 2002, when Dubrovka was seized by terrorists, and about 900people taken hostage Backthen Ihad a daily broadcast on ‘Mayak’ and, based on my radio talk show, Olga Mikhailova and Elena Gremina asked me to participate in ‘Teatre.doc Nord-Ost, the forty-first day’. Iinvited three people whose stories turn out happily. RadaNovikova was one of them: she did her film dissertation at the gay club in that same building. Around ten o’clock at night about an hour and a half after the terrorists captured the building security forces broke into the club and made everyone lay on the floor. Theywere questioned for a long time, and then released. OlegKlenin was another: he was an administrator and he and some others locked themselves in a room on the first floor and sat there for over a day, since the (hostage rescue) headquarters would not allow them to leave the building until it was clear that the terrorists were not in control of the first floor. Later, on the news, it was reported that these people were rescued during a special operation. Thethird person Iasked was Oleg Golub, an actor at the Moscow Council Theater. Heplayed Romashov, and was among the hostages who sat for three days on the balcony to where the actors were driven. Whenthey let loose gas into the building, it did not work on Golub, and the security forces brought him various people with a single question: terrorist or not? Ifthe answer was affirmative, it was followed by ashot.

It so happened that all three remembered some amusing, even funny scenes, probably out of natural feeling of self-preservation. Somuch so that back then one of the foreigners in the audience said that the tragedy had turned into a cabaret. Idid not want to talk about blood and death from the very outset, since the theater, in my view, is still no place for such conversation. Asyou know, instead of blood in the theater it is cranberry or beetjuice

A few years later Ivashchenko decided to put a new musical on at Dubrovka, ‘An Ordinary Miracle’.

First off, they even thought up a new name for the square ‘Art Voyage’ and invited me there. Where is it? Dubrovka Street, Melnikov #7. After some time they returned to their previous, more intuitive, and familiar name of Dubrovka.

They invited me and Ipromised to come, but never did. Icould not. Later Ieven started wondering: but why? AmI really scared? Ithought about, and answered myself honestly: yes, Iam.

And here, when Ilearned that the play was about to close, and quite possibly forever, Ifinally got around toit.

Thewhole show Iwas tense, and when we went outside Iwent with my daughter and her friend Iat last quietly sighed. Thefirst thing Isaw was a plaque listing the names of all who were killed.

The performance was excellent. Itwas remarkable, but, in my opinion, doomed from the start. Touring shows by the Lenkom, for example, or any other theater could still be put on, but getting the audience to come here every evening, in my opinion, is impossible. Fornow. While they still remember. After all, a lot of things happened on Red Square, all sorts of horrors, even cannibalism, but that was 400years ago, meanwhile here the weeds have not yet grown back. Bythe way, Ivashchenko and Vasilyev, so far as Iknow, did not intend to revive ‘Nord-Ost’, but when they entered the theater center two weeks or a month after the terrorist attack, there were already laborers hard at work in the building, and contracts for new seating and other repairs had already been distributed among well-known Moscow companies, and so they really had no choice.

Ivashchenko now says that, in the end, even if they never find the money to come back next season, they did their thing. Nextyear, whoever comes back here, they will be able to answer all questions with: this is where last year they put on ‘A Miracle’.

It is worth the time and the money. Itis not worth alife.

PS. Ioften hear stories about how the Russians are a lot more spiritual than Europeans or Americans, but in reality there is nothing to confirm this: ‘over there’ the way they relate to the memory of the victims and the victims’ families cannot even be compared to the desire we have ‘over here’ to forget it all (already by the 41st day). Toforget in order to stop being afraid, and like ostriches hide our heads instead to demanding from the authorities effective measures to protect civilians and prevent terrorist attacks.


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