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Yanka Kupala Theatre answers positively the question if theatre can generate profit
By Tatiana Orlovskaya

Today’s theatres are leaning ever more towards ‘commercially popular’ performances, often featuring music, since these are most in public demand. Young actors are encouraged to be able to sing and dance, as well as appearing in TV commercials or working as TV hosts, making their faces more well-known. Some even host clubs or create pop or rock bands.

The long-term argument is that commercial popularity may not sit well with the serious nature of true acting. Of course, we are all free to make independent choices but actors are also dependent on the desires of others, since they must receive approval. Moreover, their entire vocation is centred on ‘becoming another’ through an acting role. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the younger generation is keen to supplement income through advertising contracts and ‘easy’ TV work. However, in a desire to please the public in a less formal environment, such as a nightclub, actors may find themselves with less independence than ever. You may have played Macbeth, Hamlet or Uncle Vanya but it won’t stop a tipsy patron from shouting out unseemly requests. The ultimate act may involve biting your tongue and smiling through the pain!

Pleasingly, the Yanka Kupala Theatre has only benefitted from its recent tour and its embracing of the comedic musical genre, as evident in its latest premiere: Local Cabaret. It’s a prime example of how theatre can be ‘crowd pleasing’ (and thus profitable) while also showcasing true talent. Its concert format is perfect for touring, adapting to any stage. It would even suit a corporate party, since its 16 numbers are easily reduced. Poetic Victor Shalkevich, fantastic soloist Pavel Kharlanchuk and Jewish comedy duo Victor Manaev and Sergey Zhuravl could produce a show on their own. 

The word ‘cabaret’ comes from the French word ‘pub’, featuring poets and virtuoso musicians to entertain in drinking venues; over time, ‘cabaret’ became linked to restaurants, which gave variety shows and even organised concert contests. The Kupala Theatre’s version oozes bittersweet irony, making no claims to grandeur. Its talented actors are free to improvise and the audience is welcome to sing along to Polka, Meetings in a Cafй or Gypsy Romance. 

The professionalism of the Kupala Theatre’s actors enables them to present vaudeville, operetta, rock opera or light-hearted musicals. They can compete with any domestic musical theatre, accompanied by their excellent orchestra. They can sing with a microphone or without. Some people may not like their latest offering but you can’t argue with ticket sales. Local Cabaret is already sold out.
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