Posts Tagged ‘Svetlana Alexievich’

Svetlanivsk

October 18, 2017

stanislaviv

So you may well ask why Ivano-Frankivsk is named after Ivan Franko, who had nothing to do with the place, rather than Svetlana Alexievich, who was born there. Svetlanivsk would be close enough to the original name of Stanislaviv after all.

catherinei

Catherine I in Ekaterinburg

I thought the largest city to be named after a woman for achievements in fields other than getting married and giving birth must be Ekaterinburg (Catherine the Great). But it turns out to be named after the wife of Peter the Great instead…sad, that…

Otherwise for largest cities named after females, there’s Adelaide (whoever she was), Los Angeles (Queen of the Angels, a title of BVM), Chandigarh (Chandi, a goddess).

I suppose if you were to allow Los Angeles, by the same token the largest city named after a man would be São Paulo, or after that Ho Chi Minh City sounds quite convincing.

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Voices from Chernobyl, Brockley Jack 2 May

May 3, 2017

****

chernobyl

Picture from Tenere Arte Facebook page

This adaptation of the book by Svetlana Alexievich lasted 60 minutes straight through without an interval and contained a great deal of material in that time. It was presented in the devised theatre style (think Belarus Free Theatre) in both English and Russian–the Russian was normally translated by an other actor or back-projected, but the normal Russian chaos was just repeated.

It benefited from a very strong cast of both English- and Russian-speaking actors, and a previous outing at the Cockpit meant that everyone knew their lines (well, I can think of one minor exception).  The final scene delivered by Kim Christie as the newlywed wife of a firefighter dying from the effects of radiation was extremely affecting and marked by a wonderful sense of restraint…

..but…

the thing about the lies she had to think up to see her husband (two children already, certainly not pregnant) really went by very quickly if you didn’t know the source text and it’s important because it reflects the relation of the individual and the State which found its final expression in Chernobyl.  I think the devised theatre kind of thing tends to to become a documentary rather than a drama, and we could have done with seeing more of fewer characters.  I think that the points that Alexievich was trying to make about the uniqueness of the Soviet experiment, Chernobyl as a rent in the fabric of reality and even as an attack on Belarus rather went missing.

What could you do with them in 60 minutes?  Well start off with what you want to say and shape your narratives to achieve that, which I think is what Alexievich did.

Certainly well worth seeing and thinking about!