All tickets sold out a month in advance

Mogilev is wrapped in Melpomene’s arms, hosting 7th International М@rt.contact Youth Theatre Forum

By Konstantin Mishin

Never before has the festival enjoyed such a diverse programme, boasting performances by 17 theatrical companies: from Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Israel, Germany, Slovenia and Belarus. The repertoire included classical works, such as Chekhov’s Three Sisters — staged by the Theatre-Studio from St. Petersburg, and contemporary works — many of which have been written by famous authors. The Maxim Gorky National Academic Drama Theatre (Minsk) staged Mikhail Zadornov’s Notes of a Tired Dreamer.

As you might expect, young playwrights distinguished themselves via various genres, giving unexpected interpretations. The first evening saw well-known Scarlet Sails staged as a musical by the Svobodnoe Prostranstvo State Theatre for Children and Young People from Orlov (Russia). Meanwhile, the Mystorin Theatre from Jerusalem also prepared a surprise, staging Dreams of Moses as a plastic performance.

The Slovenian KUD LJUD Theatre also made a bright name for itself, seeking out new theatrical forms while cultivating interaction from its audience. The troupe ‘shocked’ the public with their amusing ‘devilry’ — for which it’s difficult to pin down a title. Ugly characters, painted in pink shades, crowded the hall and began to kiss ladies’ hands, grasp young girls’ legs and jump on chair backs. All these antics aroused surprise and cheerful laughter, showing that the young actors had certainly achieved their goal.

The festival included not only performances but numerous press conferences, round table discussions and meetings with theatre figures, critics, art experts and spectators. Many famous theatre personalities gave master classes — such as Honoured Figure of Arts of Russia Yuri Vasiliev, and Vyacheslav Inozemtsev, who heads Minsk’s Inzhest Physical Theatre.
Belarus’ Culture Minister, Pavel Latushko, highly praised Mogilev residents for their efforts at developing the festival movement. The М@rt.contact Festival has a distinct identity which is gaining in popularity. In past years, the performances at the youth forum have enjoyed audiences of almost 30,000, showing the success of this cultural event.

The Grand Prix of the International М@rt.contact Youth Theatre Forum has been awarded to Three Sisters (based on Chekhov’s play of the same title), staged by the Small Drama Theatre from St. Petersburg. According to the festival’s jury, despite its contemporary interpretation, the performance retains ‘Chekhov’s atmosphere’ and is being called a theatrical ‘discovery’. Konstantin Shelestun, an actor with the Small Drama Theatre, has won ‘best male role’ while his colleague, Maria Semenova, has taken the prize for ‘best young actress’.

Cazimir Liske and Odin Lund Biron, of the Independent Theatre Project (Moscow), were named ‘best young actors’ at the festival for their roles in a fairytale-parable for adults and children, based on Shel Silverstein’s Lafcadio. The performance also won the People’s Choice Award.

The junior jury gave a special prize — ‘For Courageous Stage Directing’ — to director Yekaterina Averkova, for her Owner of a Coffee-Shop monologue, staged by the Mogilev Regional Drama Theatre.

Theatregoers had bought every available ticket for this year’s performances a whole month before the artistes arrived.

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