First of all, we hope that you have had (or are still having) a good seasonal break. Here in the UK the party is nearly over, with only the excesses of New Year’s Eve and the hangovers of New Year’s Day to contend with. It’s going to get a little messy before normality (mundanity?) returns. As mentioned last week, in Russia the party is only just getting started in earnest. There’ll be two weeks of on/off celebrations before 2016 falls into routine.
The coming year is of special significance if you are interested in the creative arts of both Russia and England. It’s the UK-Russia Year of Language and Literature which I sincerely hope will provide something positive to talk about, besides the appalling world events that both Russia and the West (and the Middle East) are currently embroiled in.
The cultural exchange is not a new idea, far from it. The last such endeavour was in 2014 with the UK – Russia Cross Cultural Year featuring a programme of classical and modern art forms. It’s become something of a tradition. As a child I (just about) remember visiting a Russian cultural exhibition in London in the late 1970’s. We “have a history” as they say.
This time the programme commences on the 26th of February with a formal opening ceremony to be held at London’s Albert Hall – and with a bonus in tow: the screening of ‘Love’ starring Greta Garbo. Yes, it’s a silent Hollywood (MGM) production first released in 1927 with the focus on a Finnish actress.
A strange choice? Not really, since the film is based upon Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, thereby embodying the spirit of the year: an East/West creative hybrid. OK so that’s more USA/Russia than UK/Russia, but we’ll just gloss over that in the spirit of Glasnost, or something.
2016 is also the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, providing an especially appropriate impetus to include his works and to explore the man himself. Shakespeare Lives is billed as the “biggest ever global celebration” of the Bard and will provide opportunities to appreciate his life and work online, on screen, on stage, through museum exhibitions and through school-based events. Something for all ages and interests then (well, as long as you like Shakespeare).
There will also be an extensive series of his plays held across Russia and other cultural tie-ins that may even invade the lives of the general public. In April, several carriages on the Moscow Metro are to be themed to represent various Shakespearean characters. They may be no getting away from it (him).
Have you seen any of the NT Live screenings at various cinemas across the UK? They are very impressive: live or videoed encore performances (yes “encore” is the new “repeat”!) of National Theatre productions taken from the POV of some of the best seats in the house, or even (seemingly) on stage. Glyndebourne produce similar for their operas, but I digress.
Anyway, expect a lot more of that: screenings across 40 Russian cities plus other locations in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Perhaps even England too? That would be nice.
At any rate, the screenings will feature performances held at the Royal National Theatre, Globe and Barbican. All quality stuff. There’s so much to say about Language and Literature 2016, that we’ll just have to continue next week. For now take a look at the Shakespeare Lives site. Oh, and have a good (safe) New Year.
[Photo by esdomingos]