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Theatre Print

             Music as Adaptation for the Stage

“The Little One”, a play based on a novel of the same name by A. and B. Strugatsky that has been put on at the Central Children’s Theatre (director A. Borodin, 1984, Moscow) constitutes a significant point as Light Graphics Studio’s ideology evolves further. Apart from being the first ever science-fiction production upon the national stage this play  was also the first to present an audio-visual stage-mounting project authored by the composer himself. This production  demonstrated M. Chekalin’s remarkable versatility as a “synthetic creative man”: a musician practising also the ambient style, concurred here with a stage director of his own Audio-Vision Theatre (M. Chekalin is a member of the Union of Theatre Workers). An interest in theatre shown by the composer wasn’t a sporadic one; it’s not only that “light projection has been substituted for painted scenery backdrop”, but as has been already mentioned “the Theatre as a mode has been revealing itself increasingly as a synthetic mode of artistic mentation, that is to say, as the Art of the XXth century. The XXth century made use of everything that has been accomplished before... now it has got no choice but to mix everything...” When M. Chekalin realized “The Little One” stage-mounting, his design  was to create a scenic space ambience as such. This artistic realization happened to be in the same vein than most progressive ideas of modern scenography defining itself as an art form in its own right; usually associated  with “designer’s” scenography trend started by English theatre designers.
However grand metropolitan theatre maîtres who hasn’t been intimidated by a slightly forbidding aura of an artist currently out of favour with Powers-That-Be, were able to afford the use of that new extraordinary and full of power potential means that was electronic music, which blasted off the commonplace and the regular by creating qualitatively altered space, a milieu for a performance to take place it, that is, its very mode.
“The Stone Age Detective Story” (stage director A. Efross, Theatre at Malaya Bronnaya) can be cited here as an example of such a collaboration; and even more so “The Archeology”, a cult event for the young generation’s counterculture. The play by A.Shepenko (featuring Irina Apeksimova in the leading part) has been realized by M. Kotchetkov at the second stage of a prudish Moscow Art Academic Theatre (season 1990 – 1991); the offer to create music for the spectacle come from A. Shepenko, a well-known playwright (now living in Germany) who consideres composer Mikhail Chekalin to be an important ideology exponent of the generation of 1970s, what with his album “Post-Pop – Non-Pop”, this generation’s badge, after a manner of speaking, or his prophetic “Russian Mystery”, however this one has been made known to the general public when some other epoch, in some other country, has come to pass.
Much about the same goes for the first ever staging of “Till the Third Cock” (1983, Moscow Theatre of Mimicry and Gesture) by Vassily Shukshin, who then wasn’t exactly among the Party favourites neither.
Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard” production was made also by the Theatre of Mimicry & Gesture; here M. Chekalin worked in close cooperation with I. Stenberg, a well-known theatre designer. This production took part in an international competition in Japan.
“Fare thee well and make good cheer!” produced at the O. Tabakov’s Theatre is one of the more recent M. Chekalin’s theatre projects.
“Faust. The XXth Century” refutes, after its own fashion, a popular prejudice about “that music’s
not for your everyman”. This is the first ballet on ice that isn’t just an ice-review which used to consist of several different numbers. Staged by Igor Bobrin, figure-skating star, “Faust. The XXth Century” is toured around the world, including USA, with “show sold out” notice every night.

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