‘We know what Putin’s Russia is. But there is also Russia of Turgenev and Shenderovich’

Playwright Vasil Dranko-Maisyuk won over the Russian theatrical community with a grand performance of Pyasnyar (Singer), dedicated to Uladzimir Mulyavin. Then the performance moved to the native Minsk, and Vasil decided to go back to the roots. In the Belsat studio the playwright talks about a new play with flights to Saturn and love out of this world and tells the story of how the Belarusian performance was received in Moscow.

When you have lived at home for a while, you worked in a beautiful Belarusian Drama Theater, staged there an award-winning performance, worked as an assistant director with the magnificent Valer Anisenka and his “Wheat ears under your sickle”, then you know that it is time already to somehow move somewhere further and you decide to make a crucial step. For example, you want to leave everything – theater productions, performances – and go somewhere, everyones goes to the West, and I will go to the East.

Go to gain some experience from others or to show something of your own?

To learn. Working in Moscow, I started to do what I had not actually engaged in Belarus. For example, I began to stage plays for children, teach theater to children, work in two children’s theaters. I discovered new themes, new and interesting creative people. It helped me a lot. And having gained this, having worked there for three years, it is natural that I wanted to go home.

Vasil, what is now Russia, in particular, Moscow? It is a menacing monster feared also by Belarusians during the war in Ukraine, or is it an absolutely diverse country, where there is room for everyone?

Moscow, like any mega-city is very different. You can meet there with the manifestations of chauvinism, misunderstanding. However, you can see the subtle, intelligent, interesting people, and I worked and was friends with only such. So my Moscow was intelligent and interesting. It was a Moscow of the Pyotr Fomenko theater with the best performances in the world. I tried to see this Moscow. But it is a place for a lot of people: Uzbeks, Kyrgyz and others. And I really liked it. The Moscow-born citizens are very hard to find, and in this cocktail you feel comfortable enough.

Having lived in Russia, in Moscow, I realized that there are certain stereotypes. And they should be avoided, as Russia and Moscow are very different. We know what Putin’s Russia is. But there are also Russia of Turgenev and Shenderovich. So whenever people begin to say that Russia is generally something bad, I say: wait, what about this and that Russia. And it is the same with other countries.

Over the last year, year of the war against Ukraine, has “this other” Russia changed?

The people who are easily hypnotized by television think that it is necessary to destroy these “Banderaactivists”. But I was lucky. I worked with people who did not respond to this hypnosis.

But your Pyasnyar performance was attended by various people. How did the audience perceive it? Did they realize the Belarusian soul? After all, if you look at the performance, apart from Muliavin there were also Kupala and Kolas. More Belarusian play is hard to remember.

When the play was staged by Valyantsina Yarynkova, it was very lively in terms of energy. She had a different view of it, put some other accents. And when the thing is energetically alive – it touches you. When Pinigin once brought “Tuteyshyya” in Moscow, people there also exclaimed “Wow, what a performance by Belarusians!” So there is a stereotype – if it’s not in your language, you will not be interested. It will be interesting! The same thing is true about Muliavin, because he sang in Belarusian and created beautiful music, from Kamchatka to Brest people learned Belarusian.

In addition to the Moscow projects, are there creative ideas that you want to implement at home?

Yes, there is a new piece dedicated to the artist. There is also Drazdovich, flights to Saturn, love with a mysterious female from the Saturn. The play is already written and now the master plan is to stage it using the theaters and companies.

See the full version of the interview – in the video.

Interviewed by Valer Ruselik

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