Fairytale in XXI century

The opening night of Adventures of Little Bear and His Friends in the Country of Fairytales staged in Minsk Theatre of Young Viewer attracted the modern child and demonstrated that the world has changed, of course...
Where magic lives

Yes, the world has changed. Therefore, it seems very likely that the child of XXI century should be different from that of XX century, influenced by the new era and rhythms. Different interests and different tastes. A teddy bear and even Tetris are no longer craved for. The accelerating pace of life dictates its own rules. Today, even seven-year olds (and younger children) communicate via sms and are ecstatic when they see a computer game CD. When they start talking, sometimes it is rather hard to make out what they are saying, for they speak some gibberish language ripe with names of outlandish heroes and virtual cowboys, about which grown-ups have not the slightest idea.

At the same time, children love theatre plays, where fairytale is alive. Seeing them gasping in admiration and plunging in the world of theatrical magic, one comes to realise that a child remains a credulous dreamer, who believes in miracles.

Many puppet theatres in Minsk produce these miracles in large quantities. Certainly, fairytales are staged in "the theatres for grown-ups" as well, but the true "live" tale revives in Minsk Theatre of Young Viewer, the only professional theatre for children in Belarus.

Miracles on stage

- Actors of Minsk Theatre of Young Viewer (TYV) behave like children themselves, says Natalya Basheva, theatre´s art director and director of the play. - They believe in fairytale and magic more than the actors in "grown-up" theatres. Therefore, they have this ability to become a child for a while. And children believe them. The young viewer will never agree to accept insincere performance, while an adult can politely refrain from any comment. That is why, a play for children can be described as every child´s dream come true, when a fairytale becomes a reality. A good theatre is like a mirror. We reflect children´s desires and wishes on stage in an attempt to attract a viewer. The Pussy in Boots that brought up several generations, including myself, is now substituted by the modern-day tale Adventures of Little Bear and His Friends in the Country of Fairytales.

Through the eyes of a child

...I enter the theatre and feel some ten-twelve years younger. I start comparing myself to brisk and liberated seven-year olds. I do not remember being so self-confident at that age. Everybody has a mobile, they switch them off knowingly. Courageous eyes are focused on the stage, which features a sun-lit clearing with a red toadstool in the centre, a pretty traditional "children´s" scenograpgy without puzzles. The lights go out and the play begins.

Marylka (played by Yelena Salodkaya) donned in a bright-yellow dress appears on stage and tells the audience that no one wants to believe in miracles and for this reason she will have to travel to the dreamland alone to prove that it does exist.

Finally, the main hero Little Bear, a sizeable funny bear, comes out. Children are amazed and animated. "Wow!" whispers a little girl sitting next to me. "It´s a bear..." I recognize Vera Kavalerova, Honorary Artist of Belarus, in disguise of a bear. According to Basheva, Kavalerova has been analysing teenage behaviour during her entire acting career and no one in the theatre knows so much about all nuances of children´s character, for example, why boys scuffle and say rude things.

- Psychologists agree that Kavalerova can deliver a masterly performance of that, - the director stated.

The actress can also render good nature of the bear and children understand what the bear talks about.

The play contains a lot of songs and music (lyrics by Vasily Zhukovich, music by Yelena Atrashkevich), as any proper children´s play should. The arrangers Vladimir Sivitsky and Alexander Yatskevich have done their share of work: the rhythm and stylised computer-generated sounds strongly remind of the famous hits that are children love so much.

I notice that the spiral of action circles in very fast and captures the viewer... Mind sneaks backstage yielding the limelight to feelings and emotions. I am getting similar to my neighbours in stalls and rejoice at the spectacle.

The heroes of the play jumped down the stage and take a walk through the rows and aisles. Little Bear strokes children´s heads and shake the outstretched hands, mine among them.

I must admit, it was pleasant to feel younger and have fun together with children. Though, I did not have courage to run onstage. But I had my laugh, when I observed kids indulged in solving crossword puzzles, colouring pictures and helping actors untangle threads. They were awarded gifts and presents. It was hard for youngsters to remain sitting, when fireflies, the Good forces, were hovering across the stage with sparkling transparent wings on their backs. Honestly, I thought I would not be able to contain myself and join the "night" dance, start sharing my emotions and aahs and oh-ohs with the audience, when impressive big fluorescent eyes appeared from behind the curtain.

"Ooh, scary!" and "Mommy, mommy!" could be heard everywhere, while the others said sceptically: "I do not believe it!" Someone was shouting in English: "Cool, cool!"

The representatives of Dark forces, such as Baba Yaga, Kikimora and Kaschey Immortal, made their showing. However, the trio looked more like a family than the personages from different tales. They have grown sick and tired of each other over a many-century cohabitation. Kiki Markovna, aka Kikimora (Yelena Shabat), wearing a mini skirt looked like grown-up, but not a very diligent girl. Violetta Kostikovna, aka Baba Yaga (Larisa Gortseva) donned in a black glossy dress with a long backside slit was throwing languishing looks and wrapped in violet feathers was recognised as a saloon madam. They all were designed as caricatures and elicited the corresponding reactions like "geese." Besides, Kaschey Immortal, who introduced himself as Likhodei Albertovich, was a classy dressed old buffer constantly complaining about his radiculitis. Honorary Artist Vladimir Ulaschenko gave a convincing performance.

Good triumphs over evil
New play by TYV.

The most important thing is to find a theme that can stir child´s feelings. A modern child´s play is a symbiosis of all kinds of art. In includes video, light, colour, plastic elements and voice. Children are always the same, - Basheva confirms my point of view. - Only living conditions are changing. People are similar in their feelings and basic assumptions: the same ideas about good and evil, laughter and tears. But the modern-day life forces them to think quickly. Children are aware of that and we should offer them more. We should learn the language of children´s world perception and tell them about moral aspects in their language. Then we will be understood.

So, I guess that a story about one more good´s victory over the evil forces performed by TYV is completed.

Alisa Ignatenko
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