Volokolamsk Chaussee, Müller
Татарский государственный Академический театр им. Г.Камала, Kazan, Russia
"Two thousand kilometers far Berlin.
One hundered twenty kilometers Moscow."
Three questions to Andreas Merz-Raykov, the German director invited to take part in the theater laboratory in Kazan city-art-preparation, a project outside regular theater spaces.
1. Concerning the material and the place chosen: why did you suggest the play by Heiner Müller and why did you select exactly the abandonned hangar for your staging?
Oleg Lojevsky offered to me and my wife Ekaterina to take part in the laboratory in Kazan and also sent us pictures of the four non-theater-spaces, which where offered for selection. When I saw the photo of the abandoned hangar, I was immediately interested in the special character of the place – its spirit of a past, which still plays its role in our today. Also I wondered, what kind of theater such a location would require – e.g. simply because of its size and acoustics. The hangar seemed to me a perfect place to continue my work on Brecht's model of epic theater, which I have already started in Russia in Saratov and Perm.
Heiner Müller is perhaps the most important playwright of the GDR and of reunited Germany of the 1990s. In his writing he continued Brecht's work on the idea of Lehrstück (didactic play) and developed it further according to his own vision. His plays are known for their complexity and high poetic quality. In late 1980s Müller wrote Volokolamsk Chaussee, inspired by Alexander Bek's novel of the same name. In this text Müller is contemplating the history of the GDR, which soon upcoming end he already anticipated then; and for Müller the story of the GDR began in the Russian forests, in the defense of Moscow from the invading Wehrmacht in winter 1941. The first two of the five parts of Volokolamsk Chaussee reflect this moment in history. So my choice of Müller's play for the laboratory is not only a formal decision in favour of a certain theater aesthetics, but also a content-related decision to reflect this determinant point in both Russian and German history.
2. How did you react to the idea of taking part in a laboratory in Kazan? What features of this project seem particularly special for you?
We are very much looking forward to the upcoming staging in Kazan and the possibility to work with the actors of Kamal Theater in Tatar language. I already worked several times in Russia and by that I slowly got used – of course only with the help of my wife – to stage in Russian. But now, working "outside of the boundaries", to which I got used to and outside of my native language either, means to me getting back to the point of absolute beginning, experiencing and getting to know an unknown language – its melody, sound and structure. Of course this is also a risky adventure. But this is exactly the reason why our project can be such a precious experience - because noone will be able just to rely on the things we already know. On the contrary we'll have to really get to know and understand each other, developing something new.
3. What is your opinion in general about the idea of staging in a non-theater spaces?
My first productions outside Germany I did in Donetsk and Odessa. And both of these stagings did not take place under the roof of a theater building, but were performed on the streets and public places of these cities. So I already gained some experience of working outside the “protected” space of the theater. Here in Kazan our task will be a mixture between outside and regular theater: since we play inside the four solid walls of our hangar, there won't be any passersby, who suddenly could find themselves in the role of a spectator or even an actor, but it will be one of our main tasks to integrate the character of our performance space and its concrete structure into our staging, to place our story exactly here and by that enrich it with the special spirit of this place.
starring: Asgar Shakirov, Radik Bariev, Ramil Vaziev, Gulnaz Minkina, Oleg Kinzyagulov