Anniversary of a legend: Komissarzhevskaya's "The Tempest" celebrates 20 years
After its premiere in 1998 Alexander Morfov's legendary production "The Tempest" marked its 20th anniversary on the stage of Komissarzhevskaya theatre in Saint Petersburg this 15th November.
Whatever we mean to say about this production will only be, at the very least, an uncanny attempt to involve a reader into a magician's world. Morfov's concept about the play has been developing throughout his career. Starting with his early staging at the Sofia theatre which labelled him as a promising director and continuing with the production at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre which brought him adoration by Bulgarian audience. For those, Boyka Sokolova comments:
"In those heady days, Alexander Morfov's production about an ousted monarch who was trying to stage-manage his return to power invited its audience to a theatrical world, full of uneasy recognitions. This was a new type of theatre, bursting with physical energy, irreverently rehashing the text, parodic, baring the ropes of theatrical magic. Its carnivalesque overturn of theatrical expectations and the meaning of "Shakespeare," impishly mirrored the reversal in the life of the audience. All manner of references, theatrical and cultural, were thrown into the pot with a Pythonesque sense of the absurd as an opportunity for magical change. At a time when all authorities, norms, traditions, and values were challenged, Morfov's Tempest cocked a snook at received theatrical expression through a manic outburst of playful theatricality and a delighted freedom with the text. Indeed, his choice of a play which had no "canonical" theatrical tradition gave him the freedom to approach it as a new play." (Shakespearean Bulletin, Jan 2011)
Shortly after he would tour with the title in Russia and his name would receive international recognition, hence the invitation to stage at Komissarzhevskaya. "The Tempest" has now become the ultimate go-see in Saint Petersburg.
Needless to say, the title brings numerous nominations and awards to its director and his international teams - from the Bulgarian Askeer and Icarus, to the Macedonian festival's Ohrid Summer prize, to the Russian Golden Mask. Further in time Morfov stages the play at the I. L. Caragiale National Theatre in Bucharest. With the latter he has travelled to Budapest - Madach Meetings, Bacau - Theatrestock, and Thessaloniki - Dassous Festival.
On the occasion of the anniversary, Komissarzhevskaya's actors improvised a video greeting for the theatre, the director, the company of the production and its audience:
“The Tempest” is always an excitement for me.
“The Tempest” is always pure rejoicement.
“The Tempest” is a magnificent… magnificent…
“The Tempest” is a legend for our theatre.
“The Tempest” is happiness.
“The Tempest” is a litmus paper for acting skills.
... are only a few of the actor's reactions to the experience this production offered to them.
"The Tempest" is all around us! Cats and dogs! Beware, kids! -
adds Alexander Morfov.
"The Tempest", ADT V. F. Komissarzhevskaya, St. Petersburg (1998)
A thunderous sea storm throws the the Duke of Milan's ship on the shore of a mysterious deserted island. Deserted, yet inhabited by strange creatures and sounds of unknown origin. It is the kingdom of the mighty but merciful magician Prospero who rules with the help of the airy spirit Ariel. The shipwreck was anything but an accident.
"The Tempest", Ivan Vazov National Theatre, Sofia (1996)
"To me, in the beginning staging Shakespeare was an act of hooliganism. But the further I pervade the Shakespearean territory the more demanding I become of myself - this has grown to an extent that I'm currently struggling to intentionally recover my "irresponsibility" towards the text. Self-irony and endless joy from the world is the way I know to make theatre."
~ Alexander Morfov
"The Tempest", I. L. Caragiale National Theatre - Romania (2014).
"A lively show, replete with talent, vigour, music, movement."
~ jurnalul.ro, 2014
Тhe audience's reaction to "The Tempest" - this festival pearl, was to stand on their feet, shouting 'Bravo!' The laughter and lively responses from the hall were an incontestable proof that this comedy show was accepted unconditionally. ~ Gloss Vybzeza, 11.08.1999, Poland
Bulgarian director Alexander Morfov created his own stage version of the Shakespearean play. According to his version the magical island where Prospero (in a costume of a Faulknerian tramp) and his daughter Miranda (in a charming costume of a Chinese princess) live - is a territory of dreams, reveries and theatrical playfulness. In this farce, ten glamorous actors, equally masterful in all theatre genres but also in all circus genres, rage the stage, performing almost all roles. ~ Ruskaya Mysl, 18.11.1999, Paris
More about Komissarzhevskaya's production here.
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