Happy World Theatre Day!
First, a sincere thank you to all who took part in the "My Theatre Story" Contest with us! All of your stories are fascinating in their own way and all deserve high praise.
From Moris, Minnesota, the United States of America
"Broke my Rib"
When I was in West Side Story in graduate school I was playing Graziella and we were doing the dance off in the gym scene. The man playing Riff lifted me over his head while doing the "airplane" move and the audience staring applauding and yelling and he dropped me onto his shoulder breaking my rib. It was in the middle of the show and I moaned "get me off stage now". As I was trying to get off stage while dancing was happening, someone spiked the middle of my foot with a high heel shoe. I was immediately taken to the ER but still performed the rest of the run. The rib brace meant my costume had to be adjusted and the dance rechoreographed but the "show must go on'. Ah memories!
Tatiana A. Savvinova
From Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russian Federation
"The story that changed my life"
At that time I was a student of the High Music School of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). One fine day, Zakira Nikolaeva - my coursemate, took me on an audition. Zakira had been already employed as a chorus artist in the State opera and ballet Theatre, so she wanted me to be a chorus artist as she too.
I’m coming to a choral class, pretending that I’m a self-confident vocalist, but I sang badly and held tight. Oktyabrina Ptitsyna, the chief chorus master of the Theatre, by the way, she is still working in the same place, told me that it is an opera chorus, not a chamber singing. With the words "No!" I was refused. When she had spoken her mind, I asked her quietly to allow me to come to the Theatre and just to visit choral lessons and rehearsals as a free class member, and to my happiness, I was allowed to come and listen to the singing of opera chorus.
I began to visit lessons actively and also began to learn the part. The premiere of the opera “Carmen” by George Bizet was coming. The rehearsals began on the stage. As I remember, I tried to observe all processes from behind the scenery, especially, the singing of the soloists of the opera and chorus, a dancing of the ballet artists.
Suddenly, I’ve heard the voice of the director-producer from the hall, that it is necessary more dancers for the Gipsy dance in the Tavern scene. There comes the moment…it was like in the slowed-down shot: music is playing, songs are singing. I had to fly out on the stage without any permission, without any prevention and conversation. At that moment I was conducted by music and followed the heart dancing under the stage box. I knew intuitively that this plasticity is connected closely with big bulls, bullfighting and in the imagination, I managed with the bulls running in dust… And what was as a result? I remained on the stage as the acting actress, but people said to me that the attention of the theatregoers should be on ballet dancers in this scene that’s why I was put separately on the table expecting that I would not dance too much, of course, it was useless.
After my trick, the chief chorus master came up to me swiftly, holding my hand strongly, she declared that tomorrow there will be an order that from this moment I’m a chorus artist.
To date, this story still makes me emotional.
From the year 2016, I’m a director-producer of the State Opera and Ballet Theatre. This is my story of becoming a free class member of the director. How I became the director, that's another story. I’m ready to open new horizons in the theatre world.
From Maastricht, the Netherlands
When I was 15 years old I participated in a performance dedicated to the remembrance of World War 2. It was part of a festival that is always held on the 4th of May after the Dutch National Remembrance of World War 2.
For the performance, we researched the differences and similarities between the youth in World War 2 and the youth of today. To do this we interviewed people that were our age during the war. I interviewed Frans. He was a calm, gentle 83-year-old man. While we were speaking we realised we went to the same primary school. He learnt how to write in the same classroom as I did. He played on the same schoolyard next to the same tree. We spend 8 years of our life on the same ground. 68 years of difference suddenly felt like nothing at all.
I asked Frans if there was anything he regretted doing/not doing in the war. He told me about this one time he witnessed a few men getting deported in his neighbourhood. One of these men threw a napkin with a woman’s name on it towards him. The man asked Frans to find the woman and tell her where he was going and that he loved her. Frans never found the woman and he regretted that till this day.
I wrote a monologue based on everything that Frans told me. A few weeks later I performed it in a classroom. The audience was sitting two by two in a classroom arrangement. By the last performance, Frans walked into the classroom. I was wearing a suit similar to his. I was telling his story. While I was doing this I looked him into the eyes. After a bit, tears started to run down his cheeks. I kept on speaking. No one else really noticed Frans tears but I think I’ve never felt the importance of remembering in such a vivid way. I was telling the story of someone that was right in front of me. I was carrying his pain and regret for a few minutes. I will never forget the way he looked at me. I’ve played dozens of people that never existed, but that doesn’t even come close to the experience of playing someone that does exist. I was being watched by the person I was playing. I was giving him his story back through my eyes and voice. That was the moment I realised that sometimes reality is already rich enough, that there are enough stories in our real-world waiting to be told.
From Vacognes-Neuilly, Normandy, France
"DARKNESS ALLOWS YOU TO SEE BETTER"
A memory on stage?
How to get one and only one? The theatre gives me so many emotions, that sometimes the memories mingle to form one ... Like the stages of a marvellous journey that never ceases to expand.
Obviously, some moments emerge and I can now see one of them more clearly. Choose that one over another? Why? Maybe because of the times we are living in.
It’s about both light and darkness. I hear the rhythm of the footsteps slamming on the stage floor, I feel the heat of this early summer that invaded the theatre and made our costumes uncomfortable. It was 15 years ago. I was 20 years old, and that day was very special to me. Tonight would be the last time I will play the show with my friends from the troupe, before joining my first contracts as a professional. "Exercices de styles" a text by Raymond Queneau adapted for the theatre and which we had already performed several times. We even received an award at a national festival.
In short, the show was running smoothly! Based on simple and minimalist staging, the text came to life around 10 chairs and thanks to the bodies and voices of 8 actors. That day, we were preparing as usual before the audience arrived. Behind the scenes, jokes, tea and the murmur of endlessly repeated texts ...
It's the time! The few seconds before entering the stage, the moment of "floating" where artists and the public await and hope for each other like a long-planned date.
Last hugs backstage. Darkness. Silence. Breathing. Let's go!
We enter the scene, the first minutes pass, the tensions of the "before" are loosened and now drown in the bath of the show and its magic. We are comfortable, we are together, we can feel the audience, everything is going well.
The opening scene was played by all the actors, very punctuated by both movements and voices, very choreographed. It was ... the backbone of the show, a "big chunk" in terms of issues, risks. In millimetres, the rhythm of words echoed the bodies movement, nothing was left to chance. The jumps and shifts from chair to the chair were calculated and had been missed so many times in rehearsal to always appear perfect in public.
But this time, in the middle of this scene, a power cut plunges us into total darkness.
Immediately, without a moment's hesitation, we push our voices out to hang on to each other. We hear the audience whispering, questioning and turn up the volume of our voices again. We have to keep them, take them with us no matter what the SHOW GOES ON!
We never felt that we had to stop. The show was going on, and our bodies were moving and moving and beating to the beat without having to think about it. This is where you realize that hours of rehearsal allow the body's memory to develop.
Deprived of sight, all our other senses were awake, we listened more than ever, we sought the hand of the playing partner, we breathed together, we send our energy to the spectators; we've never been so together! When the light came back on, we were almost at the end of the scene. The audience didn't “Oh...” they were enthralled. It all ended as if nothing had happened.
This magnificent energy and bond with the audience created by this incident continued until the end of the show. In the end, the applause of the audience was so special! This last performance was crowned with a special emotion, apart, unforgettable.
Being together, creating the link between artists and the public; this is the best thing in our job.
Even without light, we hold on, we cling to each other. In Theater, we experience something together, to create an ephemeral and unique moment of sharing. Even if we play several times, the bond between people (artists and audience) is never the same.
It's a matter of moment ... A stammering between shadow and light, a fragile balance, an unwavering link. Today, more than ever, in this difficult context for everyone, I think about this. And I ask myself with love and thinking of the audience: "When can we go on a date again? ".
From Maceió, State of Alagoas, Brasil
It was snowing that winter in a modern old castle in Austria, and everything seemed like a dream to me, a Brazilian from the northeast part, who was used to "winters" with 29 degrees celsius and just a few days of rain. The mission that was given by the Russian director Sergei Ostrenko was to create a performance: all groups had three days, during the breaks of the classes (at the most 8 hours available), to develop and rehearse the idea, My group was me (by that time, I spoke Portuguese and English, some Spanish mixed with Portuguese = "Portunhol"), Batnairamdal Tsevergdorj (a director of Arts University of Mongolia who spoke only his native language), and Eli Elian (Eliane, a dancer from Argentina, who only spoke Spanish).
First, the idea of something that I and the Mongol director could know already, so we could talk without words. "Shakespeare"? He answered "Yes". "Hamlet?". Pause.
We thought about the characters who would fit on the three of us, by this time we two were all speaking with mimics. "No", we agreed. "Macbeth"? I pointed at him. "Banquo", to the dancer. And finally, a dream would come true: I could play "Lady Macbeth" and also the Witches. And then I explained in Portunhol this classics of theatre to the Latin American dancer, who understood immediately. Those were all the words we used in the process. I can't describe how fast all the decisions were made: soundtrack, movements, time of everything, and we even had time to rehearsal it once before showing the result to the group. While we were presenting, the time of a scene took longer and the music ended before. And then the only sentence of the play (that it wasn't in the play but I`m sure it was Lady Macbeth who said it!): "Turn up the music! Turn up! The music!"! Finally, the scene of the hand`s smell and regrets, then everyone rests in peace... and the end. The best thing was when people told us they could understand we were playing Macbeth in a performance of 8 minutes "almost" without one word. Shakespeare... physical theatre...