What exactly does “Tararabumbia” mean?
The word itself has no meaning. This is a part of some old hit song, a variety piece, that is hummed by Dr. Chebutykin in the Chekhov’s Three Sisters. But the thing is, at the moment he hums this lightweight tune, the most dramatic events happen in the play, so during these 150 years that has passed since the time the play was written, this word has become a synonym of something hopeless, that is even impossible to explain. Like the Euronews channel’s ‘No Comments’ section. But also with a humorous air to it.
Your works always reflect an interest in Russian history. In “Tararabumbia“, this is explicitly thematised by bringing 400 years of Russian history to the stage. How did this come about?
Chekhov’s works have one wonderful feature: being very ‘modest’ themselves, they have drawn, have magnetized to them people, theatres, different countries and now they look like the ship’s bottom with thousands of shells stuck to it. There is some magnetizing secret about these plays. And it’s this heap of the magnetized shells, that we have told about, keeping a hope that the very ship’s fabulous construction itself will be seen through it all.
“Tararabumbia” amazes with its sheer scope: 80 performers, 500 costumes, continuously shifting sets. How can such a project be organised?
It’s very hard. During the rehearsals I felt as if I was a sergeant who commands the new recruits, bawling and squalling on the training ground.
You are both a visual and a theatre artist. What fascinates you most about the theatre?
I am fascinated by the possibility of merging these two. And also the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixths, the sevenths…
You often quote key texts of Russian literature. In what way do authors like Pushkin and Chekhov speak to the people of today?
Both Pushkin and Chekhov understood something about human nature very well. And they both – each in his own way – found the form in the literature that turned out to be a very good way of expressing this understanding. And although, in my understanding, theatre is literature in the least, I am still more interested to transform to the stage their individualities, finding an interesting theatrical language for that. And the quotes are simply a humorous waving of hand as a way of giving regards to them.
Wiener Festwochen 25.05.2014