Long-awaited holiday enchants audiences

Actors and directors from Ufa, Klaipeda, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Tallinn, Bialystok and Minsk perform at M@rt.contact Youth Theatre Forum

Actors and directors from Ufa, Klaipeda, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Tallinn, Bialystok and Minsk perform at M@rt.contact Youth Theatre Forum
Actors and directors from Ufa, Klaipeda, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Tallinn, Bialystok and Minsk perform at
M@rt.contact Youth Theatre Forum, presenting such genres as monologue, improvisation, lyrical tales, mystical comedy and modern interpretations of classics: Cries, Devilry and Love, Drive, Versailles, Shakespeare, A Colonel-Bird, and Gamers.


Scene from performances at the 10th International M@rt.contact-2015 Youth Theatre Forum, held in Mogilev

The forum celebrates its 10th jubilee this year, having gained a reputation for influencing our modern theatrical art. Among those present was the First Deputy Culture Minister, Irina Driga, who notes, “The youth forum encourages experimentation. Young people are not afraid to create and trial something new and out of the ordinary. We might initially feel surprise or bewilderment but this is later replaced by admiration and can become an example to follow. This forum has helped theatres to develop and improve, including Mogilev’s regional drama and regional puppet theatres, which have been annually nominated for the most prestigious National Theatre Award.”

The Mogilev event attracts famous critics, directors and actors. Mogilev Regional Drama Theatre’s Director, Andrey Novikov, notes that, this year, the forum is truly rich, featuring 10 countries and 19 performances — from new and ‘old’ theatres.

Alsu Galina, the Head and Artistic Leader of The TEATR from Ufa, opened the event with women’s monologues, entitled Cries. Ms. Galina was making her first trip to Mogilev, and to Belarus, telling us, “On being invited to the forum, we chose to come without hesitation. Our theatre is young, formed less than a year ago, from alumni of the Ufa State Academy’s Department of Stage Directing. Participation in festivals gives us valuable experience, allowing us to demonstrate our capabilities and become acquainted with those of others. We’ve taken part in various forums, and Cries is my diploma work: it won ‘Best Small Stage Performance’ at Orel’s International Festival of Chamber and Mono Performances. Of course, it’s interesting to see how Belarusian audiences receive us. I know that such masters as Nikolay Kolyada have worked on your stage and I’m familiar with your chief director, Saulius Varnas.”


Ms. Galina passed her internship with Nikolay Kolyada, known as Ural’s Lope de Vega or the king of black humour. “Thanks to him, our small theatre was established,” she admits. “There are five major state-run theatres in Ufa but we wanted to create something more avant-garde. Nikolay then proposed launching our own theatre.” Although Ufa Academy lacks its own premises, using a rented stage. Its performance of Cries has been praised by critics (although some monologues are deemed a little too lengthy).

Daily feedback was given, but no major awards or Grand Prix. Rather, young theatre fans and experts were asked to vote for the best youth theatre, best actor and best actress. Critic Tatiana Orlova, who has attended every Mogilev forum, asserts that she has no need to feel neglected or offended. She notes that she attends at least ten theatrical festivals across various cities and countries annually, but has tender feelings towards the Mogilev event. “It’s so alive, true and dynamic, with a warm and cosy atmosphere,” she emphasises. “It’s like an artistic laboratory, testing the professional competency of artistes and directors. Meanwhile, it’s a holiday for audiences. On coming here, I see that Mogilev residents truly love the theatre and that this art form continues to develop. Looking at previous forums, we — the professional jury — have always tended to be in unison in our opinions.”

Valery Anisenko, the Artistic Head of Vitebsk’s Yakub Kolas National Academic Drama Theatre, notes that Mogilev’s M@rt.contact Youth Theatrical Forum shapes modern Belarusian theatre development. Each year, it presents performances able to impress and stir audiences: professional critics and ordinary citizens with a love for theatre. Moreover, globally known personalities often take part. “On returning home, I usually spend time contemplating the shows I’ve seen, inspired to think of how new ideas might be implemented and how best to stay focused. With this in mind, the Mogilev forum is always in my subconscious,” Mr. Anisenko adds.

In recent years, M@rt.contact has become a landmark event for Belarusian art: a cultural feast deserving of preservation. Even if it were to be lost, those brought up on its rich theatricality would remember it and be shaped by its influence. That much is evident from the applause, praise and support of its many fans.

Mr. Anisenko underlines, “Culture develops over time, and is not born from thin air: it stands on the shoulders of what came before. The Youth Theatrical Forum continues to build on its experience and the talents of those who support it. Our modern times rely increasingly on ‘online’ entertainment, so it’s vital that we promote tangible culture and new directions for our Mogilev venue.”

By Olga Kislyakova
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