By Alla Kazachenkova
“Some theatrical companies attend regularly,” notes Sergey Turban, Art Director of the Teatralny Koufar International Student Theatre Festival. “Fans eagerly await them. Actually, the Teatralny Koufar has its own audience. Tickets were on sale with the aim of regulating numbers, rather than making a profit. Sometimes, these are too many people, so we have to slightly restrain enthusiasm.”
This year, troupes from 28 theatres arrived in Minsk, from 16 countries — including remote Brazil and Morocco. Lithuania was keen to send seven theatrical companies to the forum. However, Director of the Festival, Yekaterina Solodukha tells us that some had to be rejected, to avoid the competition programme lasting a month.
As is traditional, the main award was determined by the audience, with people casting votes by secret ballot following performances. The Galerka Youth Theatre-Studio, from Russian Yekaterinburg, took the prize for Gupeshka — a comedy based on Vasily Sigarev’s play. Kaspars Kotans, from the Latvian University, won ‘Best Actor’ for his role in In the Burning Darkness, based on Spanish Antonio Buero Vallejo’s play. He was joined on stage by his teachers. The university stage is just as popular in Riga as those of professional companies and recently celebrated its 65th anniversary.
In total, eight prizes were awarded, with ‘Koufars’ given in the shape of painted small chests — created by Victoria Shidlovskaya, a student from Minsk’s Art College (named after A. Glebov).
“We desperately need student theatrical companies,” believes Vladimir Ushakov, a member of the jury, and founder and leader of Minsk’s Modern Art Theatre. “They revive and refresh stage art. I love the serious attitude of youngsters towards the stage. They boldly take on the most serious works, and present them rather well. Most vitally, they positively influence youth culture, making it more profound and interesting. Many student theatrical troupes are currently headed by professionals: the Starap National Theatre of the Belarusian National Technical University is headed by former actress Valentina Kostaltseva. It’s good that university art opens up additional opportunities for students.”
The chairman of the jury, Budapest director Peter Forgacs, praised the level of the event. Students in Hungary lack a similar festival, so Mr. Forgacs aims to use his experience of the Minsk forum to create a Hungarian version.