|Me and my good buddy Vladimir from last summer|
Acting class was also pretty great today, since it was the first time that our usual master teacher Sergei was able to join us. Sergei is currently in the process of auditioning his new class of students, so he's a little busy. (Here in Russia, acting schools are very few and very selective. And students don't work with a bunch of different acting teachers, they are recruited by one or two main teachers, and they work with their company and their teachers for the entire four years of their study. It's a very different approach to actor training.) But it was wonderful to have him in class today. First, I got another bright Russian smile when Sergei saw me, and a big hug. Even our translator Irina greeted me with a hug and a "привет." And though I've mostly been sitting in the back of the classroom, quietly observing, Sergei insisted that I scoot up and sit with him. We even chatted a little bit in Russian (mostly about the fact that my Russian isn't great, but it gets better each year). We also talked about the students. And then, while folks were doing their object etudes, Irina translated something for him and he quickly told her that he knew that word... I chuckled, and he chuckled that I understood him. It was just a really fun feeling of camaraderie. And watching Sergei talk about students' etudes is fascinating. He has such easy insight into the performances. He can see stories and details and possibilities in a way that completely opens up the bounds of your imagination... and he's just talking about a lamp or a stapler or an umbrella. His student Ilja is also wonderful, don't get me wrong, but Sergei is magic!
After dinner on our own (I'm doing a lot of granola bars and fruit for dinners - keeping it cheap), we met up with our awesome administrator Katya to head to a production of Трамвай <<Желание>> (Streetcar Named Desire). This was actually a final student production by the class who graduated last year, but they decided to re-mount it for a night at a theatre center that allows people to rent out the space. It was interesting to see it again after last year - since I hadn't particularly liked it. I would say that I liked it more this year because I was able to allow it to be what it was: a student studio piece. It wasn't attempting to be THE Streetcar, it was its own thing with its own purposes for them as a group of actors. Though I still don't particularly think their Blanche really GOT the neuroses. Other than that, I let a lot of their "inaccuracies" go - they didn't need to FEEL like a Tennessee Williams play. They didn't have to be in the right time and place with the slow Southern tempo. They were creating the essence of moments, rather than the definitive Streetcar. Interestingly, the Moscow Art Theatre is opening a new production of Streetcar later this month, which I suspect will be much more "authentic," as they had a dramaturg who taught them what life is like in New Orleans. But for this - a student show - I was much more able this year to let it be what it was. And it was cool to see in the program that they all listed the theatres where they are now working. Way to go, MXAT grads!
After the show, most of the group went out, but I stayed in the dorm (as den mothers are wont to do), and zonked out.