OLGA KLEBANOVICH. ABOUT VASSA, TIME AND HERSELF
In the National Academic Drama Theatre, which we habitually call the Russian Theatre, the premier of a performance “Vassa” was staged. For the performance the first issue of a play by Gorky was taken, whose name the theatre bears. The right to choose the production director Modest Abramov gave to the people’s artist of Belarus Olga Klebanovich, who perfectly played the role of Vassa. It couldn’t be otherwise. In my opinion, this reincarnation ability has recently credited this actress to the masters of the stage. Today Olga Klebanovich is a guest of the editors office.
— Olga, of how many women did you sculpture you image of Vassa?
— I didn’t take a model of any certain woman. This is a collective variant.
— Was it difficult to master this role?
— I wouldn’t say it is easy for me now. It is insanely difficult to exist in the image of this woman. Though, in my opinion, I have found the intonation.
— Why did you want to play the first issue of Gorky’s play? The second is more advantageous and benefit.
— The first variant of a play seems to me more integral. It has an ensemble — other actors have what to play. It sounds modernly. You can guess the destiny of a woman, of course, I don’t mean an eventive line, but relations in the family.
— In what way is Vassa close to you?
— This is an amazing role. How is it in nature? A woman was created to be a home custodian. Home is the basis of everything, this is a small Motherland of a person, where he returns in his thoughts during his whole life. It depends on a woman, a mother, which this home is, however commonplace it sounds. And Vassa knows: she has to give this home to her children at any cost.
— Isn’t it too expensive? Vassa commits a crime.
— And what does she have to do? Since her youth this girl has been deprived of delight to feel herself a woman, surrounded by love and care of her husband. Each of us dreams about this. Yes, Vassa got married by love, but her female destiny is difficult. Her husband, though he was a strapper, lived his life for himself, he drank, fornicated and stroke his wife. Of nine children she gave birth to, only three survived. As she says, one son was born a fool, the second was miserable. She can’t gave estate to anybody — they will blow it off and spend. On the whole, there is such a male set in the play, that you want to scream. The husband’s brother Prokhor is a terrible reveller and boozer. Vassa has to load the charge of responsibility for the family.
— It turns out to be, that in the times of Gorky were men and men, isn’t it?
— Of course. There is one genial phrase in a play: men make us like this. It is remarkable, that the author-man told about this. That is why women become tough, imperious and strong. But I don’t in any case declare war to men, we need them for some purpose (she laughs).
— The opinion about powerful and characterful beginning of the actress Olga Klebanovich in theatrical circles formed long ago and it’s difficult to shake it. I often was a witness of your reaction to this opinion, I saw you smiling, when people talk about you as a strong woman. Why? Don’t you like this comparison?
— This is a wrong word. I am simply another one, I am not so strong and characterful. If Vassa has a stranglehold on circumstances and puts them under her supervision, I let them go in my life, I don’t go against the stream, I don’t exhaust myself with fight and run off on the shore with a wave. There were dramatic intonations in my private life, and my heroine had tragic ones. She crossed a moral barrier, and gave consent for murder.
— Did you have to extrapolate this image on your destiny and your relations with children while working at Vassa’s role (and when you build other roles of mothers)?
— No, I have never had to do it. Of course, we use our experience and there are some personal emotional moments in the actor’s work. If to approach to this superficially, each mother has a little bit of Vassa: we all wish happiness to our children. But I don’t impose my life on a role and don’t draw a parallel, otherwise I will go God knows where.
— Does a minute come on the stage, when you entirely exist in another reality, forgetting about Olga Klebanovich?
— A state of existing in illusive reality, invented by a playwright, built by a director and yourself in the image — is a strange ambivalent state. On the one hand, you seem to be plunged into another world, but on the other hand — you control yourself, being in the atmosphere of that world. And going there entirely, fortunately, doesn’t give a feeling of some finest elastic membrane, which always exists between you and the image.
— Isn’t your preparation to reincarnation on the stage the loss of your own life?
— On no account, this is simply an ability to enter the life of the character. There is also one more extremity. It happens, that actors in life assign the advantages of the image. If you played, for example, the king, he behaves kingly in life, plunging into illusion of queenly grandeur. It is funny to observe such external expressions sometimes. Fortunately, I am a healthy person, and life doesn’t permit plunging into illusion. As Vassa says, there are no wonders, we make them happen. I live in compliance with this principle.
— It was said in one of your interviews, that in the institute your fellow students christened you a “wild camomile” for openness of the character and gullibility. Did your character change?
— I am really open to the world and very trustful, and this round face with dozens of freckles on the nose and cheecks… Then, when life started to pin me in its herbarium, I felt its thorns and kept away a girl-camomile. People began calling me puma. My strong natural energetics is the reason of this. That is why it’s impossible to hurt me, I can defend myself. Besides, this character quality helps me in art: if a theatre doesn’t give me a role, I search it by myself and offer to the theatre. But I didn’t kill a wild camomile in me. Under favourable circumstances I can be myself, I blossom (she laughs).
— Vassa allows her recollecting herself in the dialogue with her daughter-in-law Liudmila, a daughter of the boss…
— Liudmila recalls Vassa in youth, that is why she wants Liudmila not to repeat her destiny. In the wife of her son Pavel she finds a spiritually close person, she believes, that to the garden, where she with Liudmila like to plant flowers each spring, her grandchildren will run. Vassa needs to believe in something.
— How would you explain today’s invasion of classics on the theatre?
— We run into debt to the city and the viewers. Now there is a still big careen in the theatre to the side of entertainment, and there should be a balance. It seems to me, that the time has come, the time of balance. What apart from classics can tell us, to what extent the person is important.
— What is the value of a person? Do you talk about the light in the end of the tunnel?
— You can’t do without light. That is why I like to work with Modest Abramov. This director always leaves a hope for the best. In any case, I can’t live without a hope for the better in me, in other people, in life. Many things are mixed in us. We behave badly, and then suffer, we grieve some harmony, ideal, which we not. But owing to our strive to honesty, nobility, to life with an open heart, the mankind doesn’t become wild. This sincere desire to live according to fundamental rules is the value of a man.
— And Vassa?
— She, too. Vassa deeply realizes, that she commited evil, understands, that she is guilty in front of her son. As if she sits up her life, grabbling a fibre, which will lead her to thought about mental affinity with her son, which she, a mother, didn’t manage to fix with him…
— How well do you remember the roles, which you don’t play anymore?
— All the roles leave a trace in me. Nice features of characters remelt and become mine. I would like to refuse some of them. On the whole, I am grateful to my destiny for diversity of images, which I created and create. They are integral, open, clever. I hope, that I have something of them.