about the production
Kama Ginkas is one of the most significant contemporary Russian directors. He has been active in the Moscow Young Generation Theatre since the late 1980’s and among his most appreciated stage productions are plays by Chekhov, Wilde, Pushkin, Dostoyevsky and Koltès.
For one of his staged productions he created a collage from the tragedy Medea by the Roman philosopher and playwright Seneca, the play Medea by the French dramatist Jean Anouilh and the poem Portrait of a Tragedy by the Russian poet and awardee of the Nobel Prize Joseph Brodsky.
Thanks to the excellent direction of Kama Ginkas the cruel classical heroine Medea is transformed from the literary, mythological character to a contemporary being and, together with her, also the story, which belongs to the European cultural heritage. In the past few years we have been witnessing the revival of classical characters on significant European stages. Only rarely, however, have the directors managed to mediate to the viewer the archetypal strength hidden in them. With his precise direction and interpretation, excellent acting and an original stage setting Ginkas has scored a success in this respect.
With the protagonists we end up in a kind of eclectics’ scenic country where an important role is played by the material and symbolic link between the elements of water, fire, air and earth. It is a country on the border between the real and the surreal, distantly resembling the country created by Salvator Dalí. A huge lava hill, towering into the vacuum, in the midst of a ravaged bathroom, where there is a small washbasin and water flowing out of it flooding the whole area. On the hill, there is a cooker, a pram flooded by the water and the eery, dream scenery is completed by an Aztec statue.
As if we were thrown into a dream governed by human unconsciousness which charges the unexpected pictures with intensity and energy suppressed in real life. In order to discover the strength hidden in mythological stories, the contemporary rational, technocratic man must apply different ways. Maybe, he must take the liberty to experience them as if “on trial“ to release their destructive energy. On a rare occasion, it is possible to see a successful attempt at it, also in the theatre.
We are watching Medea, a commonplace woman, one of millions, deserted by her well dressed husband, carrying a shopping from a supermarket in her hands. A present day Medea must cope with her hatred in her dreams, not to kill her own children, her husband, her rival and maybe also herself. Ginkas does not claim that this is just a female story, but rather studies human instincts in it, the animal strength which can be just as destructive as the terrorist attacks, wars and any other violence.
Together with the exceptionally impressive Yekaterina Karpushina we witness something like a nightmare, but when we wake up, maybe, we are a little calmer and more free. The destructive strength, barbaric from our point of view, which we fear, because we do not know it and do not admit it, can be released either in a dream, in an artistic creation, or in our common experience in the theatre. The director has managed to achieve in Medea what was expected of the theatre in the Antiquity – the catharsis. Maybe, it is exactly so, because he has created a space for a distance and humour. Maybe it is so, because he has identified a way a contemporary man is able to experience strong emotions, if he takes the liberty to be open. Ginkas’s theatre, in some respect almost mythical, is about a search for balance, spirituality and harmony through overcoming the fear of the unknown, the obscure and the macabre.And Medea, just as the fiery bird Phoenix, emerges from the ashes and being reborn is flying away...
“In his production Ginkas is talking about the way civilisation rejects a complicated individual. About the fear a civilised man has of strong feelings and great courage. The instinct of self-preservation wins over the ability to fly. A safety system is contradictory to the sweet pleasure of risk.“
Pavel Rudnev, Chastnyi correspondent
“In the role of Medea, Yekaterina Karpushina is a leering, lurching, treacherous force of nature. Occasionally slipping into a false, high-pitched feminine purr, she sounds like someone trying to be human. But as quickly as that thought flashes in the mind, she drops down into a rumbling, ominous voice that sounds as if it may be rising up from Dante’s Inferno. (...) Ginkas toys with the conventions of theatre to break the pathos of the performance – or to ratchet it up. Karpushina once stops the action to encourage an audience reaction following a moving speech by People’s Artist of Russia Igor Yasulovich. She reads texts from history books, and slips into sublime excerpts from Brodsky’s poem Portrait of Tragedy.”
John Freedman, The Moscow Times
directed by Kama Ginkas
set design: Sergey Barkhin
music: Theodosy Spasov, Anna-Kaisa Liedes
cast: Médea: Jekaterina Karpušina, Iáson: Igor Gordin, Kreón: Igor Jasulovič, Pestúnka: Galina Moracheva, Chlapec: Váňa Druček
Kama Ginkas (1941), born in Lithuania, graduated from the study of direction at St. Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy. As a director he had his dèbut in Riga and, after a short spell in Krasnoyarsk, returned to Petersburg. Since 1981 he has been active in Moscow. In the Moscow Young Generation Theatre he has staged many works by Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Chekhov, but also Wilde and Koltès since 1988, many of which have been hosted by the festivals in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Bosnia, Brasil, USA, Poland, Croatia, the Netherlands, and France...
The most interesting foreign stage productions are: Kobekin’s opera N.F.B. (Germany), Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog (Turkey and the USA), Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Finland), productions of Chekhov’s work The Seagull, Life is Beautiful and Pavilion № 6, Dostoyevsky’s works Idiot, Crime and Punishment and others. Kama Ginkas is a professor at the Swedish Academy in Helsinki and the Studio of MAT in Moscow. He ran workshops at many drama schools and universities in Great Britain, the USA, Canada, France, Norway and Finland.
He is a laureate of many prizes: The State Prize of the Russian Federation, K. S. Stanislavsky‘ Prize, M. Tumanishvili’s Prize For Perfection in Art, The Triumph Prize, The Golden Mask, The Seagull, Crystal Turandot and others. In 2003 he was awarded the title of The National Artist of Russia.