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The 'Nord-Ost' spectacle in a play by Torsten Buchsteiner
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, 30 2013

ImageThe Beit Grand Jewish Cultural Center in Odessa will host a performance of 'Nord-Ost' by Torsten Buchsteiner, to be performed by the young drama troupe Theater XXIon July 11th, 2013, at 7:00 pm. Theemotions awakened in the viewer by this performance will be hard to forget.

Some wish to change the world, to save it, some wish to destroy While others simply wish to live. Very few know the value of a simple, clear day in an ordinary humanlife.

Torsten Buchsteiner wrote about it, and Theater XXIwill tell it to you. Itis about our spectacle, 'Nord-Ost'.

Link http://today.od.ua/Nord-Ost/

A chronicle of some performances of 'Nord-Ost':

March 2006. Arecorded radio performance of 'Nord-Ost' broadcast in Hamburg.

March 2006. Theplay is performed at the German-French theater festival in Karlsruhe (Germany).

October 2007. Premiere of 'Nord-Ost' in Greece.

November 2007. Premiere of 'Nord-Ost' in Poland.

January 2008. Premiere of 'Nord-Ost' in Austria.

September 2008. Readings of plays at the ‘New Drama’ contemporary play festival in Moscow, including some that almost look like finished performances. Onthe day of ‘Master Class’, as directed by Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, there was a reading of Buchsteiner's 'Nord-Ost'.

September 2008. Premiere of 'Nord-Ost' in Denmark.

November 2008. TheGoethe German Cultural Center offers a compilation of plays by contemporary German-language authors, in Russian, titled 'Step Three'. Thebook includes 10plays, among them one listed as follows: Buchsteiner, T. Nord-Ost: Drama / T.Buchsteiner, trans. from German by J.Bott, E.Gorokhovskaya / / STEP 3: A new German-language drama, in Russian. M: Goethe German Cultural Center. OGI2008. Pages 2058. SbI Sh-15 Zh-3

November 2008. Premiere of 'Nord-Ost' in the Czech Republic.

February 2009. TheCyprus Bulletin announces that the ‘Versus’ acting troupe of the Limassol theater group staged the play 'Nord-Ost', written by the German playwright Torsten Buchsteiner. Thetroupe was recently formed and consists of people who want to introduce the viewer to the works of little-known contemporary local playwrights. Members of the creative team are motivated by a desire to move away from conservative conventional theater in its academic sense. Theplays they perform are often experimental, and the viewer is challenged to feel like a participant in what happens onstage.

September 2009. Premiere of 'Nord-Ost' in Sweden.

March 2010. The'Dakh' theater held its third meeting of the the 'LMD (Laboratory of Modern Drama) STRIKE' project, which was established by the 'Gogolfest' (Nikolai Gogol Festival) president Vlad Troitsky. Actors read plays by contemporary German playwrights. Modern German-language theater plays were taken from the book 'Step 3' (countries participating in the Russian language were Switzerland, Austria, & Germany). Theplay 'Nord-Ost' turned out to be very close to reality almost in the style of a news report, according to the Ukrainian website 'Coronation of the Word'.

March 2010. NORD-OST. Atale of destruction the title of a play by German playwright and actor Torsten Buchsteiner, performed by the Nikolai Binev Young Theater in Sofia, directed by Vasilena Radeva. Fromthe Bulgarian edition of 'Russkaya Gazeta'.

November 2010. Atthe Young Theaters of Russia festival in Omsk there was a laboratory of contemporary plays. Onone of days, the laboratory hosted sketches from 'Nord-Ost' by German author Torsten Buchsteiner. 'Rossiyskaya Gazeta' notes that Yevgeniy Fomintsev brought the play to the stage. Heis an actor from the Fifth Theater, who, according to observers, has become one of the laboratory's leaders. Heportrayed brilliantly the character Viktor Sluzhkin during a season premiere of a dramatization of ‘The Geographer drank his Globe away’.

This play has also been featured in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine. Youcan view pictures from the performance here: http://www.nord-ost.org/fotografii/cpektakl-nord-ost-po-pese-torstena-buhshtaynera.html

Images from the performance by Omsk's 'Fifth theater' can be seen here: http://omsk.kp.ru/daily/25623/790090/

Torsten Buchsteiner: Imet with 'Nord-Ost' hostages and explored the auditorium on Dubrovka
April 26, 2013

The terrorist capture of the Moscow Dubrovka theatrical center 2326October 2002is a recent story still with many unexplained moments and ‘white outs’ but for all that it still requires some thought, including in the arts. Playwright Torsten Buchsteiner arrived in Odessa for a premiere performance of 'Nord-Ost'.

In an exclusive interview for 'TIMER', the German playwright and screenwriter talked about how he worked on the play, his impressions of the Odessa performance, and muchmore.

Johann Bott and Yekaterina Gorokhovskaya translated the play into Russian, with Alla Rybnikova as editor. Theshow was a success at the Beit Grand Jewish cultural center and was performed by theater-studio 'Twenty-one' with the support of the Goethe Institute in Ukraine and an endowment from Bavarian House of Odessa, which was discussed in detail on this site. After only a day, Mr. Buchsteiner found time to talk with the director and actors with his observations and suggestions, take a walk around Odessa, and summarize his impressions. While our playwrights, with few exceptions, often stay far away from controversial topics, the German writer was at once creatively daring yet diplomatic when discussing the problems of another state, i.e.: Russia. Allthings considered, boundaries to terrorism in the modern world are, unfortunately, a fairly conventional notion.

TIMER: Mr. Buchsteiner, allow me congratulate you on the premier of your play in Odessa and ask you about your impressions. Itwould also be interesting to learn how you might rate various stage versions of 'Nord-Ost', for example, the production in Cologne. Reviewers have limited themselves to discussing the play, but the image of the play is never described.

BUCHSTEINER: Everywhere they ask me how Iliked the show, and Ialways answer a question with a question: Who am Ito evaluate it? Ialways welcome and praise what the director has come up with. Ienjoyed the Odessa version as well. Yesterday Isaid as much to the director and the actors, Isaid that there were some technical issues; it was a bit rough around the edges, as it always is on opening night, but this was not important. Iwas touched that the amateur actresses were so genuinely anxious on stage that one of them burst into tears at the finale, while others were close to tears. Iwas told that the very same thing happened at every rehearsal!

It is clear at the Lesya Ukrainka Theatre of Kiev, during a reading of 'Nord-Ost' on the academic stage, that these were highly professional actresses, while the Odessa actresses were under different demands. Thenagain, these tears from the heart were not only touching, but left me subdued. InCologne, by the way, the production was one of the worst that Ihave seen, even though the audience was delighted with it. Theyshouted enthusiastically and applauded and Icould not understand a thing about it. Theyperformed my play in a strange way, in the spirit of Russian kitsch. Theheroes wore coats with fur collars, and fur hats. Theactors were in weird make-up and everything was just too superficial, looked speculative, which is not in the spirit of the play, and still there was nothing about the characters' inner feelings, nothing remained of what Iput into them. Thiswas also a young theater that was not very well to do, although their public relations was great, their ads went out continuously, including on the Internet. Theygave 50performances. Moreover, they were nominated for Best Performance and Best socio-political project of the year in a local competition. Theydid not win in any of these categories, however, which pleased me verymuch.

If Iwere to speak about my favorite productions, they vary, one of these, for example, was replete with special effects, unexpected movements and director's discoveries, while the other, to the contrary, was minimalist and the heroine sat the whole time. InOdessa Ifound in amazing sincerity and depth of experience. Theyhit their mark, and the audience also feltthis.

TIMER: Surely you are often asked about how you gathered data for the creation of 'Nord-Ost', because the play was written in 2005, virtually hot on its tail. Backthen and today there are no unequivocal answers to many questions related to the tragic events.

BUCHSTEINER: The first important sources for me were newspaper reports and materials from German television and the BBC. There has been a lack of information on the Internet, and it was hard to follow there were a lot of differences in the official information, and many pages with eyewitness accounts suddenly got deleted. Materials were stretched like rubber. Weknow, for example, that the special units such as the 'Alpha' and the SWAT police operated in a quick response mode their task was to shoot the enemy. Theninformation came out that it was not possible to save all of the hostages, or vice versa, it was possible. Theformula of the gas used inside the theater that evening is still unknown, even today. Speaking with one of the surviving hostages, a woman from Kaliningrad, Ilearned that she was experiencing health problems due to the gas, insomnia and headaches, all of which cannot be written off as due to the severe stress.

I traveled to Moscow and went around the entire block, the entire auditorium where the events took place. Itried everything possible to reconcile it to myself, to recreate it. Ispoke with eyewitnesses. Thanks to a cousin, a journalist who frequently attends press conferences of the Federal chancellery, Ihad a chance to meet Anna Politkovskaya, but Idid not use this, there was no opportunity to speaking at such a level with every party to the conflict, and to give an advantage to only one side would not have been fair. There was no way to meet with any Chechens, and Iwished to maintain my objectivity. Later, when some Chechen immigrants showed up at shows in Austria, Sweden, and Paris, they reacted to what they saw very emotionally they got extremely excited, but they were definitely grateful for the fact that the Chechen side was shown quite objectively, not as an absolute evil, but with such romantic imagery. TheChechen people have been stuck with a cliché has followed Jews and Gypsies for such a long time. Therecent terrorist attacks in Boston by Chechens, unfortunately, plays into Putin's hands. Hesaid: We’ve been warning all of you. But to smear the entire Chechen nation in black paint is unfair. Itis nottrue.

TIMER: A work of art cannot have as its goal the simple reconstruction of an event it is always something more. Youare applying the theme through the private stories of three women, three widows a doctor, a hostage, and a terrorist. Thedirector, in my opinion, has sounded a common note in the post-Soviet area: our women always make their priorities husband, family, and personal happiness, not political intrigue. Howwere you able to achieve such accuracy in the female characters? AreGerman women very different in this respect?

BUCHSTEINER: The idea to put everything on the female characters came to me while watching an interview with the hostages, a married couple that lost their daughter during a terrorist attack. Shetalked and cried, rapidly, while he was like a rock he just put his hand on her knee and by this gesture he was united with her in this grief. Perhaps this is why women live longer than men? Theydo not hide their emotions inside. Imust admit that it was very difficult to make sure that masculine traits and positions did not creep into the female characters, in this Iwas helped by my lady friends and actresses whom Iasked to read the text and voice their doubts on this score. German woman, however Yousee, Germany is a much more conservative country than people think. Angela Merkel is an example of an emancipated woman in an active position, but this is the exception, and she gets this from her male colleagues. Scandinavia is much less conservative, take at least their law on domestic violence, adopted there 30years earlier than in Germany. Yes, today it is possible for men to exercise their right to a parental year and go on maternity leave instead of the wife if she wants to work, only this hardly ever happens. Thedifference is that a Russian man who is offered to stay at home with a child for a year would call his wife a fool, but a German man would say, diplomatically: Dear, Iwould like to, but my career In short, even as a psychological ploy the result is the same. Ithink that all over the world family is extremely important for women, and in extreme situations this can be seen very clearly

Now answer my question: does Odessa love the tango? While you and Ihave been drinking coffee, Ihave heard a lot of this music coming from the cafe's loudspeakers.

TIMER: Love is not the word for it. Wehave several schools of tango, and a tango festival.

BUCHSTEINER: Too bad that my play 'Tango' has not yet been translated into Russian. Itis an ironic story about 12dancing couples and 24hours in theirlives.

TIMER: So here is the deal you need to find a good translator for this story! Herethere are people who can both act and dance. Inany case, Ihope that 'Nord-Ost' will not your only play that is put on stage in Odessa.


By Mariya Hudyma

Reviews of the performance:

Yevgeny, June 25th, 2013
There has not been anything like this in Odessa for a long time! Wewere satisfied and will take our parents thistime.

Anna, June 22nd, 2013
My husband and Iwere at the premiere. Myhusband is not a theatergoer, but he was amazed. Nowwe are going again! Contemporary art, as manifested in this performance, works wonders!


Documentary acting


Painful topics heal if they are discussed

The 'ART&SHOCK' theater of Almaty once again proves that it is not by coincidence that shock is part of its name. Anew performance by the theater is titled 'Nord-Ost' and dedicated to one of the most shocking terrorist attacks the seizure of the Moscow Dubrovka theatrical center by Chechen terrorists in 2002, during the performance of a musical of the same name. Theauthor of the play, which tells about these tragic events, is German playwright Torsten Buchsteiner, who decided not to call it by anothername.

The first original Russian musical of the post-Soviet period, created by Gregory Vasilev and Alexei Ivashchenko and based on Kaverin's novel 'Two Captains', is still a significant phenomenon. Formore than a year it was performed daily to packed halls. Thecultural center of a ball bearing plant was turned into a unique theater for this show, and equipped with all the latest technology. Afull-size aircraft landing on the stage, a live symphony orchestra, a brilliant acting troupe performing tap dances on skis and a solo on a typewriter all this fell victim of the monstrous terrorist attack. Thetragic events of those days are shown through the eyes of three women accountant Olga (played by Galina Pyanova), 'black widow' Zura (Viktoria Mukhamedzhanova), and nurse Tamara (Veronika Nasalskaya). Theplay utilizes real TV broadcasts from thetime.

The show is constructed in such a way that audiences at 'ART&SHOCK' become hostages and even get involved in the action. Theperiodical 'Argumenty & Fakty Kazakhstan', by the way, was one of the sponsors of the original musical in 2002and our editorial staff provided 'ART&SHOCK' with original tickets and booklets from that 'Nord-Ost', which were used in the new production.

VERONIKA NASALSKAYA: We did not plan on playing this on stage. Wejust wanted to present it as a joint project with Kazakhstan's Goethe Institute, and did a reading of it, but the audience responded actively and asked us to do a performance. Onthe other hand, we just now launched our new project 'Documentary Theater'. Allthis matched, so we decided that 'Nord-Ost' would be the first performance in the series. Forus it is more of an experiment than a repertory performance. We're testing the audience, the topic, and ourselves. Thisplay is dedicated to a terrible event. There is this feeling that we have gotten some very ponderous power, and we sometimes ask ourselves: does the theater have the right to exceed these boundaries?

OLEG BELOV: Did the Goethe Institute offer you thisplay?

VERONIKA NASALSKAYA: No, last year we were asked to put on one of the contemporary German plays from the European collection. Wechose 'Nord-Ost' because to us it seemed the most powerful, and last year was also the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack.

OLEG BELOV: This show is based on real events, but how much artistic license is present init?

VERONIKA NASALSKAYA: It is present, but to a small degree. Asfar as Iknow, none of the 'black widows' survived, but the author made it possible in the play for one of the terrorists to escape during the capture.

OLEG BELOV: In the future, will your 'Documentary Theater' project and so on relate to Kazakhstan?

VERONIKA NASALSKAYA: Certainly. Ican tell you in confidence that the next performance of in the 'Documentary Theater' series will be devoted to religion, and more specifically the topic of sectarianism. Wewill present this in the spring. Itwill be based on true stories of people and discuss how during the 1990s sects have fought for minds in Kazakhstan. Wewill use the verbatim genre, i.e.: real texts. Documentary theater is often a complicated performance. Itshows that the performances not only can entertain, but also discuss painful the topics, critical issues, and thereby contribute to their solution.

By OlegBelov


Mogilev Drama Theater plans to stage a play about the 'Nord-Ost' terror attack

June 13, 2013

The small stage of the Mogilev Regional Drama Theater plans to host a play by Torsten Buchsteiner about the 'Nord-Ost' terrorist attack.

The play is almost ready. Right now coordination of copyrights is underway, according to a report drama theater director Vladimir Petrovich gave to a correspondent from 'BELTA'.

For about a month we've been working on the material, said Vladimir Petrovich. I don't know how the audience will react to this performance. After all, it's a risqué and equivocal issue. There could be a harsh reaction from the audience. Asketch shown during the 'Recitation' project, however, made it clear that audiences still need such performances. Right now the theater has very few purely human stories. Everything seems aimed more at entertainment for public consumption. 'Nord-Ost' is tragedy in its purest form. Asa genre it is unpopular and does not reach the modern theater, yet the essence of theater by its very nature is tragic! Why do we even go? Tosee, experience, and think.

Torsten Buchsteiner's famous play 'Nord-Ost' has been translated into 13languages and is dedicated to the terrorist capture of Moscow's Dubrovka theatrical center on October 23rd to October 26th, 2002. Onthose dates a group of armed Chechen militants took hostage the audience of the musical 'Nord-Ost' (916 people altogether). The nightmare at Dubrovka lasted 57hours. Asa result of a military-police operation all the terrorists were liquidated. According to official figures 130of the hostages died, including 10children.

After the terrorist attack the German playwright went to Moscow and spoke with eyewitnesses to the tragedy. Theplay is based on the stories of three women: a Chechen terrorist, a spectator, and an emergency physician. Our next show is designed to remind people about the world in which we live, said Vladimir Petrovich. Because such events happen every day in different parts of the globe and it's worth considering the reasons.


The performance of 'Nord-Ost' tells of the terrible tragedy that occurred eleven years ago. Narration is by suicide bomber Zura, who lost her husband during the Chechen war; Tamara, an emergency room physician on duty at the place of the terrorist attack; and Olga, a spectator who on this unfortunate evening went to the theater. Eachrecounts the story of her life. The right to decide who is to blame for this terrible tragedy remains with the audience, according to (director) Vladimir Petrovich.

The value of Torsten Buchsteiner's play is that the author does not make specific assessments to the actions of his characters, says (Petrovich). He is not looking for the guilty, it is simply another reminder that human life is precious and that you must fight for it to the very end, no matter what it takes.
As planned by the director, each member of the audience will feel as if the tragedy could happen to them. Atthe beginning the play a camcorder aimed in the auditorium selects three heroines, and they go up to the stage in order to recount what took place. Their stories are so emotional and cut to the quick so much that the need for photos or video from the real tragedy disappears on itsown.

To use film documentary material in order to amaze and discourage the viewer this is the easiest thing to do, says Vladimir Petrovich. But Iimmediately decided against that it's a low blow. Theliterary material is self-sufficient and there's no need to sustain it with harrowing images. Theonly thing that will be used in the show is an original poster from the musical 'Nord-Ost', and photos of the posters, torn up after the assault.

A 'recital' of Torsten Buchsteiner's risky and controversial play has already been staged at the Mogilev Theater. Itmade such a strong impression on the audience that a fifteen-minute break had to be given before discussion. Sometook much longer to come to life and calm down. Theopinions of the audience were unanimous: the play must definitely be added to the repertoire of the Drama Theater.

By Julia YEVMENKOVA in 'ZN', June 24th, 2013

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