Moving forward with the Russian Theatre Film series. Researching and writing and setting up related sites which will contain information about the progress of the films individually and the series as a whole. Two more web sites are now in preparation and will be the main focus for organising and distributing information about the whole project. There will be one site which will focus on the series as a whole and connect to the other pages and sites. To see it click here.
Some videos of the latest process and progress of the series can be found as clips and related information which is built around “Chekhov Country” This is a small on-line project which will loosely chronicle the series “Russian Theatre of the Early 20th Century” in documentary form with videos clips from some of my travels in and around places in Russia connected with the films and series, behind the scenes footage and generally related material. The first few are about last summer where I wrote most of the first draft material for the scripts. More to come soon.
Now the holiday is officially over here in Russia its time to take stock and make a few announcements. The long holiday – Christmas and New Year in Russia extends until 14th January ending officially with “old” New Years Day – gave me plenty of time to consolidate my thoughts about future projects and work. Continue reading →
Most of the day engaged in updating social media networks but the second half of the day preparing new short film for Chekhov Country series for uploading on to YouTube. Its the kind of the final bit of our stay out in the Russian countryside where I spent a few weeks working on the scripts for the Vakhtangov and Carnival documentary and Bloks Fairground Booth for the Russian theatre series. Yesterdays blog Blok,Vakhtangov, Carnival and Theatre, explains in some detail what the outlines of this project will be. Getting the carnival script lined up and gradually pulling the pieces together for this part of the project is the next step as well as checking out the location for The Fairground Booth.
Three weeks in Chekhov Country, the heart of the Russian countryside, working through the research for the new film project and trying to think of a title for the whole project. Work went well and the relaxing country air was conducive to creative endeavour. As mentioned before the entire project is a three film enterprise. Two documentary films – one about the Russian Theatre director - Vakhtangov, another about the influence of Carnival on Russian theatre of the early 20th Century and then a feature type adaptation of Blok’s play “The Fairground Booth”.
Why “The Fairground Booth” or “The Puppet Show” as it sometimes is called – “Balaganchik” in Russian. Well if you acknowledge that carnival has had an enormous influence on Russian theatre especially at the beginning of the 20th century then “The Fairground Booth” is the play which really underlined this fact. It was one of those watershed plays or theatrical events which defined the future and broke with the past. Alexander Blok’s play and his cooperation with Meyerhold in “The Fairground Booth” served as a link between the symbolism of the early twentieth century and the revolution in culture and technology and society – it was the nexus between the old and the new theatre.
From this perspective, to pair a film about Vahktangov, carnival and “The Fairground Booth” makes sense. Each film will stand on its own but each film will inform the other. Moreover it will also sit well against the two films already completed about Russian theatre: “Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde” and “Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre“. This will make up a series of five films covering an area which is less explored than say the theatre of Chekhov.
The connections will become clear over time as each film begins to develop. I will be charting the progress and development of these films here and in blogs and in a series of background video blogs across the internet. Some may claim that Blok’s Fairground Booth is just a curiosity piece or not a classic drama. In subsequent blogs I will try and argue otherwise and that it is as much of a classic as any play by Chekhov, Shakespeare or Ibsen and deserves its place in the history of world theatre. Blok’s play paved the way for a new kind of theatre which relied less on naturalism and explored other means of expression.
However the question still arises why Blok and the “Balaganchik” and why now. Russian society and culture was changing at a rapid pace, to some extent this is still true of Russia. Any attempt to hold a mirror up to nature so to speak was then doomed to failure. Naturalism was ill equipped to deal with reality at the beginning of the 20th century. Events move on a at staggering pace. How does one reflect reality of the then Russia, how does one come to terms with it. One way is through masks and masquerades, to widen the expressive possibilties of what was then a narrrowly defined view of the role of theatre and the content it should portray.
Back from Chekhov Country to Moscow after completing a full 1st draft of the Vahktangov script as well as some way through the Carnival and Russian Theatre documentary script. These updates will now be from Moscow while we start to coordinate the whole project in terms of resources and time scales. Most of the day has been spent on updating and redesgning the blog and reallocatong pages. A fuller account of the parameters of the project can be found in tomorrows update post.
Yesterday spent completing 1st draft script for the documentary film about Vahktangov for the series about early 20th century Russian Theatre. Plus the completion of a short film update for Chekhov Country part 3 on YouTube from the heart of the Russian Countryside to give a fuller view of how the project has started and where it is going. Its very early days but you have to start somewhere. I also want to give a flavour of life in Russia from my own point of view, the point of view of a film maker living here. There will probably be one more form the Russian Countryside and then I will be switching to updates from Moscow upon our return. For information about other films seewww.copernicusfilms.com or have a look on YouTube.
Just back from the UK after accomplishing several important steps in the progress of this new documentary film about Stanislavsky of his life and work. The one major accomplishment was securing the interview with Jean Benedetti, one of the foremost international authorities on Stanislavsky, which will be included as part of the film. After a period of negotiation the interview took place with Jean Benedetti at the beginning of May 2010. Instrumental to this process was the help of Paul Fryer of the Rose Bruford College of acting and Andrew Eglinton also from Rose Bruford College and who runs The London Theatre Blog. Paul Fryer is also curator of The Stanislavsky Centre which houses one of the largest Stanislavsky archives outside of Russia and is a major resource for research into Stanislavsky. Andrew made sure that the logistics side of things were in place as well as playing a main role in the recording sessions which took place at Rose Bruford College and advice about archive material. On returning to Moscow the production will continue with more filming and locations in Moscow as well as negotiations for archive footage. Post production and editing for the film is planned for the middle of June and will continue throughout the summer.
A long time has passed, or so it seems, since completeing the film "Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre" and a process of reflection has replaced the frenetic rush to finish the film in time for the premiere and get it released at roughly the same time. The […]
After a decade working in the film industry in the UK, mostly on the packaging of feature films for international prodcution companies and later in the financial and production aspects of feature films, he travelled to Moscow in 1995 to make films and write where he has lived and worked ever since. He started making his first documentary film about Alexander Rodchenko in 1998 and from this experience embarked on series of films about the Russian Avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. Three more films in the series followed:"Architecture and the Russian Avant-garde and , "Meyerhold, Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde" and "Mayakovsky" . Two further films have now been completed "David Burliuk and the Japanese Avant-garde, with locations in Moscow Tokyo and Kyoto and a 6th film "Kandinsky and the Russian House" shot in Germany and Russia. Michael Craig returned to Japan for two 3 month periods to shoot a film about Japanese culture and art. The project is called Japan Philosophical Landscapes and is being released in short episodes on the internet-Click Here to Watch for Free.In 2011 a documentary about the Russian theatre director and founder of MXAT (The Moscow Art Theatre)