‘I’d like people to ponder their lives’

Moscow V. Mayakovsky Academic Theatre premieres Love of People, staged from Belarusian Dmitry Bogoslavsky’s play
By Tatiana Khomichenko

Last year, the play exploded onto the theatre scene, making the short-list of the Eurasia International Playwrights Contest, topping the Lyubimovka Festival of Young Playwrights and winning the National Theatrical Award’s Contest of Contests online vote, as well as the Golden Mask Festival and the Acting Faces-2012 Contest. Clearly, this is a new phenomenon for Belarusian drama.

Dmitry, 27, is a shy young man who feels embarrassed by his sudden fame. “I’m not yet a wise old bird,” he smiles.

Dmitry, you are an actor with the Belarusian State Youth Theatre but have begun writing plays... 

In 2009, the theatre closed for repairs but I had no wish to leave, which inspired me to write my first play: ‘The Pawn’. It was staged at the Centre for Belarusian Drama. My second reached the finals of the international ‘Lyubimovka’ Festival. Belarus has little modern drama, so our playwrights like to get together to read their plays. Not long ago, a Studio of Alternative Drama opened, aiming to help novices become staged before real audiences. In January, we’ll start rehearsing ‘Chronicles’.

The jubilee 90th season of the Moscow V. Mayakovsky Academic Theatre opened with your Love of People, on its small stage. How did you receive an invitation from this famous, popular theatre?

I had no such aspiration but was called by director Mindaugas Karbauskis — a holder of Golden Mask awards — asking when I was planning to come to Moscow. I was surprised by his call as, at the time, I was preparing to go to the ‘Lyubimovka’ Festival. On hearing this, he said, “Meet me there.” I did, and a successful union was created; I haven’t had to re-write or change my play in any way.

Love of People tells of a modern village where much cruelty exists...

Life is not always kind. We see a lot of comedy staged but I’d rather people pondered their lives more deeply. It’s easy for us to hurt those we love. It’s as if we are on the eve of winter while waiting for summer.

What are your main genres and themes?

Trends are changing, so my play is full of revelations. It’s common to combine genres; I see nothing bad in it. A good play should explore all aspects of life.

How long does it take you to write a play?

A long time, as I need to contemplate deeply — through my soul. I have a year old badger-dog, called Veliamir, whom I hide from, on my grandfather’s balcony. With a notebook on my knees, I work winter and summer. However, it took me several years to write my last play: ‘Calm Murmur of Passing Steps’. There is file on my table entitled ‘ready’; once a play is placed there, it remains unchanged.

How many plays do you have in the file so far?

Eleven.

Who is your favourite playwright?

It’s Maeterlinck, as he has so much happening in his plays. An atmosphere of pain is also crucial.

What drew you to the theatre?

I had no plans originally, although I joined the Inventive Comedy Club at school. I wanted to enter the Acting Department but fate took me on a different path and I failed my third round of entrance exams. I entered college and, during my third year of studies, was offered a job at the Youth Theatre, which I accepted.

How do your parents view your success?

On seeing my first play, they were upset to see me billed as ‘Belarusian playwright Dmitry Bogoslavsky’, saying, “You have a Russian passport. Your grandfather is a Don Cossack and you call yourself a Belarusian playwright.” I was born in Minsk but my parents moved to Elista. Naturally, I travelled with them. After graduating from school, I returned to Belarus as I love Minsk more than Moscow. It’s quieter and has its own charm. I also met my wife, Yulia, here.
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