St. Ann's Warehouse Premieres Dmitry Krymov Lab's OPUS NO. 7, 1/9-19
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by BWW News Desk
Dmitry Krymov began his career as a set designer for his father, Anatoly Efros, among other leading directors in the '70s and '80s, and, disenchanted, abandoned theater to become a painter. After his father died, he returned to the theater in 2002, and has since developed a reputation as "one of the most original directorial voices of this new century" (American Theater). Soon after, he formed his design-centered theater company, the Dmitry Krymov Lab.
St. Ann's Warehouse presents the American Premiere of Opus No. 7, a visually explosive, non-narrative spectacle that exemplifies Krymov's "theater of painters" and provides what Feldman calls "a perfect introduction to contemporary Russian theater." With larger-than-life puppets, a multi-genre original score performed live-on-stage, eight cacophonous "dancing" pianos, musicians who become actors, actors who become acrobats, and a "living" wall that erupts with imagery, the two one-acts comprising Opus No. 7 pay tribute to victims of totalitarianism: Soviet Jewish life destroyed by the Nazis, and artists censored under Stalin. Together, the two parts comprise a moving meditation on human creation and destruction.
Opus No. 7 will run for just eight performances at the new St. Ann's Warehouse (29 Jay Street) January 9–19, 2013. Critics are welcome as of the January 12 performance for an official opening on January 13.
Part One, Genealogy, which features scenic design by Vera Martynova and original live music by Georgia-born composer Alexander Bakshi, is a lush visual and musical requiem for the Jews of Eastern Europe. Inspired by historical photos and old family albums and letters, the Krymov Lab has created a loving tribute to "those who came before." (Krymov). Ultimately universal and non-didactic, the work more broadly represents a history of oppressions throughout Russian history.
The main element is a huge, stark, blank wall through which all the images are created-revealed, projected, drawn and animated-by the performers. Part puppetry and part painting, the set is as much an actor in the drama as the performers-a living blank canvas from which all life springs in stunning, provocative, funny, moving tableaux, projections, scenes and moments. Bakshi's score supports Krymov's direction, drawing upon traditional Jewish song, American gospel, oratorio and contemporary classical styles. It all adds up to a surprising, deeply affecting, at times humorous, memorial.
The cast of Genealogy includes Anna Sinyakina, Maxim Maminov, Mikhail Umanets, Maria Gulik, Natalia Gorchakova, Arkady Kirichenko and Varvara Voetskova. The work features scenic movement by Andrew Schyukin, video by Alexander Shaposhnikov and Svyatoslav Zaytsev, and costumes by Irina Bakulina and Victoria Solovyeva.
In Part Two of Opus No. 7, following a reconfiguration of the theater during intermission, Krymov wreaks havoc on the life of composer Dmitry Shostakovich. Employing scenic design by Maria Tregubova and recorded music by the composer and his contemporaries, Krymov goes all out in Shostakovich, using scale, acrobatics, sound, spinning pianos, puppetry and design to capture life for artists under Stalin's reign. Objects become animate, and elements like fire are unleashed to ransack the great composer's life and work.
Inspired by Charlie Chaplin, Krymov's protagonist, inhabited by the diminutive Anna Sinyakina, is a multi-faceted genius, clown, collaborator, victim-both nurtured and cowered by Mother Russia, which is animated by a 17-foot high behemoth puppet that is by turns a loving "bubby" and a menace. The puppet, like the State equally rewarding and threatening, is capable of transforming with the change of a hat.
What emerges is a virtuosic, hijinx, heart-breaking journey of the Soviet–era composer. Shostakovich transforms from an innocent who is endlessly fascinated by music and sound of all kinds, to a survivor who is tragically diminished under the brutal compromises imposed by a totalitarian state.
In addition to Sinyakina, the cast of Shostakovich includes Maxim Maminov, Mikhail Umanets, Sergey Melkonyan, Natalia Gorchakova, Maria Gulik and Varvara Voetskova.
Conceived and directed by Krymov, the work features puppets by Victor Platonov, scenic movement by Andrew Schyukin, lighting by Olga Ravvich, Anton Morozov and Alexey Rasskazchikov, sound by Sergey Alexandrov and props by Maria Masalskaya and Natalia Urvacheva. The scenery was made in theater workshops directed by Alexander Nazarov.
Susan Feldman says, "Krymov shares roots with artists familiar to St. Ann's Warehouse and American audiences, from Peter Schumann, of Bread and Puppet Theatre, to Charlie Chaplin, whose little tramp's escapades masked treacherous times and staunch, heroic resistance."
Tickets are $60-80 and are available online at www.stannswarehouse.org and by phone at 718.254.8779 (Tuesday-Saturday, 1:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.) or 866.811.4111 (extended hours Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M.-9:00 P.M.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M.). They can also be purchased at the St. Ann's Warehouse Box Office at 29 Jay Street (Tuesday-Saturday, 1:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.).
Dmitry Krymov is a theater director, painter, set designer and graphic artist. He graduated from the Set Design Department of the Moscow Art Theatre Drama School, and began working as a professional set designer in 1976. He designed numerous performances produced by his father, Anatoly Efros, and many others across Russia and abroad.
In 1990, Dmitry Krymov quit theater and began painting. Among the significant solo exhibitions to his credit are shows at the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, Exhibition Hall Manege in Moscow, and Musee Historique De la Citadelle Vauban in Belle-Ile-en-Mer, France. His works are in the collections of museums such as the State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), the State Russian Museum and State Theatre Museum (Saint Petersburg), the Museum of Victoria and Albert in London, and the Museum of the Vatican, as well as in private collections around the world.
Krymov teaches at the preeminent Russian Academy of Theatre Art (RATI-GITIS) in Moscow, where he is the head of the workshop at the Department of Set Design. At the invitation of the renowned director Anatoly Vasiliev, Artistic Director of Moscow Theatre School of Dramatic Arts, Krymov formed his Lab there in 2003. The company consists of Krymov's students and recent graduates from RATI-GITIS and Shchukin Theatre Institute.
Productions to date include Nedozkasky (Not a Fairy Tale, 2003), based on a collection of Russian fairy tales; Three Sisters, his own version of King Lear (2003); Donkey Hot, a fanciful retelling of Don Quixote (2005); The Auction, based on Chekhov's plays (2005); The Demon: The View from Above, inspired by Mikhail Lermontov's poem (2006); Cow, based on the Platonov story that appears in every Russian elementary school book (2007). Krymov's students, some as young as 16, work as designers on these productions. The Opus No. 7 scenic designers Vera Martynova and Maria Tregubova, both major players in the Russian theater scene, began as Krymov's students.
Dmitry Krymov Lab has performed in festivals across Russia and in Poland, Hungary, Great Britain, Estonia, Finland and other countries, and won numerous awards, including two Russian national prizes, the Golden Mask and Crystal Turandot, and the Golden Triga, the most coveted prize at the Prague Quadrennial for world scenography.
For over 30 years, St. Ann's has commissioned, produced and presented an eclectic body of innovative theater and concert presentations that meet at the intersection of theater and rock and roll. Since 2001, the organization has helped vitalize the emerging Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood, DUMBO, where St. Ann's Warehouse has become one of New York City's most important and compelling live performance destinations. After twelve years at 38 Water Street, St. Ann's has activated a new warehouse at 29 Jay, which will be home for the next three years, while the organization designs and raises funds to adapt the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park into a thriving cultural center.
Through its signature multi-artist concerts and groundbreaking music/theater collaborations, St. Ann's Warehouse has become the artistic home for the American avant-garde, international companies of stature and award-winning emerging artists. Highly acclaimed landmark productions include Lou Reed's and John Cale's Songs for 'Drella; Marianne Faithfull's Seven Deadly Sins; Artistic Director Susan Feldman's Band in Berlin; Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers' Theater of the New Ear; The Royal Court Theater's 4:48 Psychosis; The Globe Theatre of London's Measure for Measure; Druid Company's The Walworth Farce, The New Electric Ballroom and Penelope; Enda Walsh's Misterman, featuring Cillian Murphy; Lou Reed's Berlin; the National Theater of Scotland's acclaimed Black Watch; and Kneehigh Theatre's Brief Encounter. St. Ann's has championed such artists as The Wooster Group, Jeff Buckley, Cynthia Hopkins, Enda Walsh, Emma Rice, and Daniel Kitson.
St. Ann's Warehouse has been awarded the Ross Wetzsteon OBIE Award for the development of new work. The OBIE Award Committee honored St. Ann's for "inviting artists to treat their cavernous DUMBO space as both an inspiring laboratory and a sleek venue where its super-informed audience charges the atmosphere with hip vitality."