"Theatrical Spring" of Olga Klebanovich

Age is no threat to a woman if a women has vivid personality
Lady Here, Laundress There

Too talented, too energetic, too... Most of her colleagues are saying that. They are right; it is difficult not to use a superlative degree, when describing her. She consists of all those "toos and mosts." When she was a student of the Department of Acting at Minsk Art and Theatre Institute (the now Academy of Arts), she prepared thoroughly for all exams. She brought a frozen haddock to the final exam. In the closing scene of a little play she was to slap her partner on the cheek and she did it with the fish that began to thaw. The commission was amazed.

Her unconstrained and limitless energy became a legend then. Those who saw that final scene still burst out laughing when they remember it. Funny episodes are frequent in her life. She tells about most of them. For example, she once joked that sour crout and Alain Delon are her favourites. As a result, at the end of the opening night she was presented a bucketful of sour crout and a portrait of Alain Delon.

She speaks with admiration and delight about the partners she played on screen or on stage, thus reversing the myth about the obligatory envy that actors ostensibly feel for each other. She said, "Alexander Tkachenok (Popular Artist of Belarus, colleague and a friend) is a magnificent actor, Oleg Yankovsky is a clever man, Lidiya Fedoseyeva-Shukshina - personification of kindness and talent, this one is a miracle, that one is a star..."

As for Olga Klebanovich herself, she is a laureate of the State Prize of Belarus and a bright theatre star.

Crowds are attracted to Russian Drama Theatre in Minsk to see Klebanovich´s acting whichever play she is in, because she´s doing something incredible with each of her roles. In Aide-de-camp-ress of His Majesty by Gubach Klebanovich transcends such an intensity of noble feelings into

Josefina, a common girl, that the character seems to be a real queen. Take another example. A hobnailed nurse Nadya being far from a heroic personage is fighting the drinking habits of her husband. Olga performs the role (Lie Detector by Sigarev) with the mastery that sends the audience roaring with laughter. She manages it with a couple of lines thrown as if by chance or gestures, which reveal the real emotions under the stage make-up.

Her temperament is brimming with intensity. Her feelings are open and strong. She is the owner of flexible mind, ironic and feminine at the same time. This "gentleman-like" set of human qualities and outstanding artistic talent allow her to perform the roles of a lady and a commoner with a virtuoso lightness.

One of Klebanovich´s favourite sayings (the theatre staff knows it well): let´s have a more plastic communication. Probably, she has come to understand that abruptness and straightforwardness are prerequisites of brinkmanship; that it is time to grow mature and stop wanting people to do what she wants them to and feel offended when nobody listens to hers or hear her. And as soon as she realised that actual state of things, she has acquired the desirable balance and a feeling of internal harmony, best serving to artistic creativity.

Test for Master-Class

Age is no threat to a woman if the woman has a vivid personality. Olga has it. She realises it is impossible to become a strong personality once and forever, as constant development is vital. That is why she is not afraid of growing older. She says:

- Many actresses are scared of the age, wrinkles, etc. The roles of younger heroines are assigned to younger performers. But it is only normal for the theatre profession. If you are a true actress, the external beauty is just an appearance. If you want to play well, you should think about the appearance of the character, not about your own wig and make-up. My favourite Annie Girardeau, whose face is often referred to as "the map of Paris," is magnificent and marvellously beautiful, because she has a talent.

For her benefit performance she chose the role of Maria Alexandrovna Moskaleva in "Uncle´s Sleep" directed by Modest Abramov. By the way, Klebanovich has grown to the level of professionalism, when she can afford choosing a play, a role and a director. Why has she decided on Dostoevsky and not Shakespeare? Why the role of a provincial girlie, whose yearning is to get out of the godforsaken town of Mordasov and arrange a cosy marriage for her daughter and not Queen Maria Stuart?

- Dostoevsky is a top-class literature imbued with the beauty of the language, controversial inner world of the characters housing turpitude and nobility, personal gain and unselfishness, the storm of feelings is either hiding behind the mask of cold impermeability or erupts sweeping off all the barriers on the way to the goal. "Uncle´s Sleep" is a peculiar test for master-class.

- The hoop-skirts were flickering and ladies wore lilac and pink, pale green and gold costumes at the benefit play. Laces and frills, lorgnettes and bow-ties, frocks and dress coats... The elegance of manners... This all made a swirl of jazzy spectacle flowing in sync with the theatre score by Vladimir Kandrusevich. I do not know whether Olga could choose a composer, but the option couldn´t have been better. It is a long time since the Minsk audience has not been treated to the provincial atmosphere of XIX century of Dostoevsky, the climate of eternal passions of "little" people, a mixture of love, hate, intrigue and an acute need of repeating the abundant life of the higher and celebrated society. The viewer is mesmerised by the fine physical presence of Olga Klebanovich-Moskaleva. Like a red flower against a dim background, her venturous protagonist was prominent as against dull and sour attempts to live by "small" people.

Few personal things

Olga is reluctant to talk about the personal territory, but it is like heart - without it the whole thing seems artificial. Therefore, she allowed me to lift a curtain over her private life a little bit.

Her private life cannot but elicit sympathy. Fourteen years ago a great actor of Kupala Theatre, Honoured Artist of Belarus and laureate of the USSR State Prize, who became known to the general public through numerous film was forced to go to the United States of America, leaving his wife and son in Minsk. His and Olga´s daughter Dasha was struck by a serious disease. The parents went an extra mile for their daughter to be admitted to a group of children going for a recovery trip to the USA. The arrival of the Soviet artist was made public (the Belarusian Diaspora lent a hand) and a fund has been created. Soon, Dasha was included in the experimental group of children diagnosed as having a similar ailment. The medicine to cure the rare disease was just being developed at the time. The drug was ready and successfully tested. Dasha felt better, she was showing signs of recovery. The problem seemed to be over. Nobody could predict that the father and daughter would have to stay there for long. For the disease not to resume its damaging effect, expensive medicine was needed, which meant a lot of money for treatment, a living and Dasha´s studies. She has graduated from a university in Itaka.

- Not everyone can do what Sasha has done. He performed a feat and saved the life of our daughter, sacrificing his profession, career and our relationship. Being a born artist, he had to become a jack of all trades: he worked in a pizzeria, an ambulance man, etc. When I learned that Dasha is getting better, I told him: "I am ready to pave the bridge over the ocean with my heart and thousands of "thank yous"..."

- Does New York know about your benefit performance? - I am asking gingerly.

- Yes, I told Dasha all about it. We usually talk for half an hour each Sunday night with her.

So, what´s next?

Further was a week of "Theatrical Spring of Olga Klebanovich," when a spectator had a chance to meet all her characters. At the end of our conversation, Olga added with a faint smile:

- If there is a theatrical spring, there will be a summer...

Valentina Zhdanovich
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