by Vassily Sigarev
directed by Dmitry Troyanovsky

Developed in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center
October, 2008

Director’s Statement by Dmitry Troyanovsky
During the first read through of Plasticine, we roared with laughter (when we were not cringing at some horrific moment in the lives of the characters). What kind of laughter was it? Well, surely some of the play contains humor. But what mostly characterized our laughter was the disarming shock of recognition – the brutal absurdity of daily life in Russia.

Both the actors of Studio Six and I lived and studied in Russia, so the play resonated with us on some deep visceral level. We knew those grotesque old women, the bitter drunks, disaffected teenagers seemingly smoking their lives away on street corners. Yet, the same experience gave us an awareness of the hidden poetry in the lives of the very same drunks and losers. We were not likely to consider these people as merely bizarre artifacts from a foreign culture and present them in a freak show manner for the benefit of the “enlightened” Western audience. We agreed not to flinch at the Grand Guignol like ugliness and relentless violence of Plasticine. Just as importantly, we decided to bring out the lyrical imagery and transfixing strangeness that elevates Sigarev’s writing above banal reportage from the Russian provinces.

While Sigarev and other young Russian playwrights of the post-Soviet, postmodern generation found acclaim in European theatres, Americans have not had many opportunities to see these cutting edge plays. The New York International Fringe Festival provides a perfect opportunity to introduce Plasticine to the American public. We believe that our project has all the ingredients for an exciting Festival offering: the discovery of a new dramatic voice, a mixture of shocking imagery and absurdist hilarity, and the energy of a coherent, skilled ensemble.

About the playwright:
Vassily Sigarev was born in 1977 in Nizhniy Tagil, an industrial region of the Urals. He is the student of Nicolai Koliada, Russian playwright, actor and theatre director. He enrolled in the Yekaterinburg Theatre Institute in their playwright division. His work is heavily influenced by the chaotic and unforgiving situation in Russia, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Plastiline” is the play that put him on the theatrical map. Presented in 2000 in Moscow, during the Liubimovka Young Dramatist Festival. It is published as part of the “Liubimovka” anthology of contemporary Russian dramas. In 2003, Vassily Sigarev emerged on the international scene when the play, renamed “Plasticine”, was presented at London’s Royal Court Theatre. It was performed in front of sold-out audiences and unanimously greeted by the critics. It was published the same year by “Nick Hern” Books and got the “Charles Wintour” award of the most promising playwright. The play was then translated and performed in German, Polish, Serbian and Finnish. It also opened in Dutch at the Zuidpool Theater in Antwerp. In 2001 it was published in French by “Les Solitaires Intempestifs” publishers, with a translation by Masha Zonina and Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, as “La pâte à modeler”.

His play “Chornoye Moloko” which opened in the Gogol theatre in Moscow, then at the “U Nikitskikh Vorot” theatre, followed the same path. Translated in English as “Black Milk”, it was performed at London’s Royal Court in 2003. It was also performed at Berlin’s “Gorki’ Theatre” and in Washington’s “Studio Theatre”. The text is published in Russian in “Sovremennaia Dramatourguia” and by “Nick Hern” Books, in a Sasha Dugdale translation. In 2003 Vassily Sigarev received the Eureka award.

Vassily Sigarev also wrote “Fantomnye Boli”, presented during the “Premières” festival for young European theatre organized by Le-Maillon and the National Theatre of Strasbourg, and of Goupiochka, which was presented at a reading in the Pythie theatre last June with a French translation by Aline Botteman.

Now 30 years old, Vassily Sigarev is the editor of “Ural” magazine, a literary journal, and the author of fifteen or so plays.

*Taken from:
Translated from original French by Andre and Raphael Schklowsky