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'The obligation to be courageous is always with you' - Elena Gremina on the 'creativity of the masses'

6 March 2013

By Elena Gremina, director of Teatr.doc

Source: Novaya gazeta 

BerlusPutin is not only our biggest box office success, it also attracts the most bourgeois public. It's even funny in a way, the theatre has pulled off its first commercial success thanks to Putin, at last we’ve got something useful from him! 

There's been enough demonising of Putin. Why did St. Petersburg refuse to put on the show? The local directors were simply scared for themselves! In Dr. Zhivago one of the characters says to another: "Our intelligentsia is a horse that trots around the riding arena all by itself." An awful lot depends not on the authorities but on those signals we are prepared to receive and interpret. We are ready to be frightened in advance. A lot of what goes on is down to the initiative of the masses. Of course the masses react to any signal, but it's important that we don't become that horse in the riding hall. 

We are not a state theatre, we can do what we like. Take for example the two parts of “One Hour Eigh­teen Min­utes” [a play depicting the final hours of Sergei Magnitsky]. We are self-funded. Probably if we hadn’t put on that play then we’d have got state funding. 

People like those who turned up at the Sakharov Centre [to disrupt a play about the Pussy Riot trial – ed.] have never once bothered us. We would just drive them away. You have to call out the OMON riot police straight away. All people in authority have ID, they show it. And there are the performance artists from NTV who extract bits out of shows and interviews and then lie about them in any way they like. This "creativity of the masses" [the disruption - ed.] is probably being supported by some of the security services, but I'm convinced they haven't been given any directive from the Kremlin to do so. 

It's important you don't feel like an orphan or stepchild, it's your country and you are responsible for it. There's no need to let those types of people into the theatre at all, and there's no need to seat the Orthodox Cossacks in the front row so that they can see whether or not your performance insults their feelings. To hell with that! We put on a show, that’s what we founded our theatre for, and we're confident that what we are doing is important. 

The obligation to be courageous is always with you. If you take upon yourself the role of theatre manager, of director, you are obliged to be courageous and, if you will forgive the pathos, use words to set people's hearts afire. Whatever the voice that has been given you. That is the one to use.