The cabaret is a collage of extracts from three different plays and “Aufsätze Uber den Faschismus” by Bertolt Brecht. Three plays that are being used in the play are in following order: “Schweyk im Zweiten Weltkrieg”, “Der Aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui” and “Die Dreigroschenoper”.
Cabaret style is chosen for the combination and direction of the play. All actors and actresses are also cabaret performers. The cabaret that consists of dance, music and “words” is like a reflection of our humorous and contradictive world.
In “Praise to a Comfortable Life! (Brecht Cabaret)” performs 7 players and a 6 instrument orchestra.
“My life has been irretrievably lost, I have no past, the present is awful because it’s so meaningless! My feeling for you is just wasted like a ray of sunlight falling into a well – and I am wasted too.” (Vanya)
“I’m dying of boredom. I don’t know what to do. It’s only in idealistic novels that people teach and doctor the peasants. How am I suddenly to start teaching and doctoring them for no earthly reason?” (Yelena)
In 1904, in a Russian village, in an old 26 room farmhouse, an intellectual (or pseudo intellectual) group of people are finding life to be quite dull. They keep questioning their own lives, accusing one another for their lost, fruitless pasts. Virtually none of them is able to see one step ahead; and some choose not to see. These characters in Chekhov's play, with its subtitle "Scenes from the Country Life", are surrounded by monotony, hopelessness, inertia, laziness and misery.
The characters, trapped in their pasts and failing to live the present, are in a state of waiting, without hope or concern for their future. Wasting their lives with their insignificant quarrels, selfishness and hopeless/desperate loves, these people are a reflection of Russia in its transitional period.
On the other hand, there is but a month left until the rebellion of 1905, "Bloody Sunday", which is considered to be a "rehearsal" for the Russian Revolution. The Russian villagers and the workers are starting to unite/form an alliance.
On January 22nd 1905, shots were fired upon citizens who had wanted to deliver a petition to the Czar. Thousands were killed, blood was shed on the streets of St. Petersburg. Bloody Sunday would be the stepping stone that lead to a new regime: the first socialist nation in history.
"Uncle Vanya", written by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov in 1896, premiered on October 26th 1899, at the Moscow Art Theater, directed by Constantin Stanislawski who also played the role of Doctor Astrov. The play was critically very well received from the first performance on. Chekhov, who at the time was living in Yalta because of his health condition, wrote in a letter dated October 30th 1899 to his soon-to-be wife Olga Knipper : "On the night of the premiere, phone calls kept me awake all night. For the first time in my life, my fame has kept me from sleeping. One cannot predict when he will succeed and when he will fail. I didn't have any big hopes for this play at all."
Maxim Gorki says in a letter to Chekhov: "Brilliant! An exceptional work of art. Behold, the new frontier of Drama! Like a hammer to the head of the empty minded public."
In the Theatre Pera interpretation, the play takes place over the course of two days. It is the beginning of autumn, the last days of august. The first act starts pianissimo, on a day that has traces of the summer heat but is starting to cool down. The act ends with an explosion of a night, a Nocturne, like rain turning into a storm.
The next day, a hot summer noon opens the second act which starts allegretto. Then it transforms into a pianissimo night again, in which everything seems to revert to the way it was, but in reality nothing will ever be the same again.
With its hidden and potentially big outbursts, “Uncle Vanya” is a pastoral symphony.
“UncleVanya” is a pastoral symphony which harbors underneath a latent force on the brink of erupting/exploding.