“Thus people--so it seems to me-- Become good friends from sheer ennui.”

I'll post soon on David Levine's marathon session at the Mellon School. But Melloners who joined New England's Russian émigré population for the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre’s almost four-hour production of Eugene Onegin now have an intense repertoire of theatrical vocabulary to which we can return in days ahead, from effusive name day celebrations to a twerking bunny rabbit. Ever present were the questions generated by our seminars and discussions. What are the advantages and disadvantages of bringing the Russian academic theatre to the Boston stage? How did the production move through spaces narrative (with its proliferation of Onegins) and physical (from provinces to Moscow)? How did the actors' distance from the ground--whether crawling on it, pistol dueling on a raised platform, or swinging high above the stage--emancipate or entrap them? Was this a work for the theater, or did it also borrow the conventions of a novel in verse (all the text came from Pushkin), film, or soap opera? Was anything lost in translation, or literally hidden behind the giant speaker partially obstructing the surtitles? And what of the performer who was too ill to fly to the USA? Is the last row of the upper balcony of the Cutler Majestic Theatre a godly or vertigo-inducing location?

Theater off the ground (courtesy of Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre)
Theater off the ground (courtesy of Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre)

Reactions to the performance among our cohort ranged from enraptured to addled--a provocative mix if ever there was one. I invite you to share further thoughts in the comments. Did you feel transported to Moscow, or were you imagining all the other locations in which you might rather be?

See also: Matthew Franks