Insurgent Moscow theatre shuts doorways after ultimate present

The Gogol Centre theatre, one of many final bastions of creative freedom in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, shut its doorways Thursday evening with a defiant ultimate present referred to as “I Don’t Take Half In Struggle”. The emotional play protesting in opposition to the Kremlin’s army intervention in Ukraine marked a dramatic finish of an period for the Russian capital’s ever-shrinking opposition and intelligentsia circles.

Beforehand run by insurgent director Kirill Serebrennikov, who left Russia after criticizing Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, the Gogol Centre staged daring performs for a decade, typically testing more and more strict legal guidelines and Moscow’s sharp conservative flip. Thursday’s efficiency had a few of the viewers in tears when actors recited poems by Soviet poet and soldier Yuri Levitansky, a Soviet poet and soldier who was born in what’s now Ukraine.

The play’s identify was taken from one in every of Levitansky’s emblematic verses: “I don’t participate in conflict, it takes half in me.” Because the present ended, the theatre’s outgoing creative director, Alexei Agranovich introduced: “The Gogol Centre is closed. Endlessly.” This week the Moscow authorities introduced a change of management at quite a lot of the capital’s high theatres. They embrace the Gogol Centre, which can now perform below new administration and its previous identify – the Nikolai Gogol Drama Theatre.

A spectator poses with a backdrop as he waits for efficiency within the Gogol Centre in Moscow.

Serebrennikov, who remodeled the theatre firm right into a nationwide cultural beacon, accused the authorities of “murdering” the Gogol Centre. On Thursday, he addressed the viewers through video hyperlink from Avignon in southeastern France. “The Gogol Centre is an thought, the concept of freedom. Freedom isn’t useless. Freedom lives on so long as we dwell,” he stated. One other distinguished Moscow theatre, the Sovremennik, can even have a change of administration, authorities stated.

These adjustments are seen as a part of an rising crackdown on any dissent since President Putin despatched troops into Ukraine. Earlier than the play, some spectators lay roses in opposition to the theatre’s white partitions. “They’re closing every little thing, blocking every little thing,” Daria Kozhevnikova, a 36-year-old instructor who got here to see the play, informed AFP. She paused, earlier than smiling uneasily: “Quickly we’ll all be shackled collectively by one chain.” Her voice trembled and she or he appeared on the verge of tears. “It was a spot the place I felt good.”

Gogol Centre actors and personnel stand on stage after a efficiency in Moscow.

‘Image of freedom’

“The Gogol Centre is a spot of freedom,” stated 39-year-old advertising and marketing specialist Aliya Talibova, who additionally got here to see the play. “Now they’re taking it away from us.” Actor Ilya Vinogorsky, 22, stated the closure of the theatre in its present iteration was “very painful”. “This shouldn’t be taking place. Particularly within the twenty first century, once we declare to be a civilized society and state.”

Serebrennikov was creative director of the Gogol Centre between 2012 and 2021. The 52-year-old was caught up in a high-profile fraud case that his supporters say was punishment for difficult the Russian authorities. He was compelled to go away his publish in February 2021. In his tackle, Serebrennikov vowed that regardless of the closure in Moscow, the theatre’s mission would dwell on. “There was this constructing. There can be one other,” he stated. “I hope some day the conflict will finish and the gorgeous Russia of the longer term will emerge.” – AFP


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