Previously from St.Petersburg, currently based in Drezden, the ‘Derevo’ Theatre last visited Moscow in the Spring of 2007 to receive a Golden Mask award. Despite their worldwide travels and participation in dozens of festivals and art-events, Derevo could recently be found in the rather unexpected surroundings of the Moscow Estrada Theatre, in itself already a statement of some kind.
Anton Adasinskiy, ‘Derevo’ ideolog and solo performer, started his career in the 1980’s with the St.Petersburg clown-troupe Lycidee, and went on to create a theatre which he refuses to call a theatre, holding that the word Derevo (Wood) in this context more actual.
DE I: In one of your interviews you pointed out that in the West journalists are most interested in the professional aspects of what you do, while in Russia often there is more interest in your private life. How is a journalist supposed to solve this dilemma – after all, the private life of an artist is part of his profession?
In my case this is more the case than for other artists. We ourselves are our ‘profession’, the profession of being ‘Adasinskiy’. For a play such as ‘Ketsal’ I have to reshape my body in such a way that means I have to go to the zoo and watch how the animals move, study my bones, my muscles, develop my joints so that I can move differently, and then alter my human conception of time, the rhythm of time, the rhythm of how you interpret things - the structure of preparation is very complicated.
DE I: Have you not gone mad leading that kind of lifestyle for over 20 years?
Let me put it this way, it varies from day to day. There are days when it’s not so nice to see me or talk to me. That’s the result it seems. Because it’s impossible to live for long under such pressure and with such a heightened sense of things and not lose your mind a bit. Of course you lose it. That’s why for many years we don’t watch TV, we don’t listen to the radio, and we don’t read newspapers (on our website we write our own news which exists only in our imaginations.) We have to protect ourselves from problematic streams of information which we don’t add anything to our work. I do what I do. If I was to start getting involved in revolutions and slogans and billboards, I would probably also be quite successful at it. Because I’m talented in many different ways. For example, I’ve always felt that I’d make a great thief.
DE I: Do you sense this empirically?
Empirically too, during my school days. For my mind to get a bit of a rest, nowadays I look for various ways to deceive certain organizations. For example, there is the State system of Drama Theatres where there are a lot of people employed, and lot of money is involved, there is the systems of directors, actors, choreographers…but the end product from this system is already obsolete as it is being formed in the system.
DE I: Can talent become obsolete?
Yes. Something that was once considered genius, now is hardly considered at all. And you need some kind of massive turn like a sinusoid so that the material once again becomes unexpectedly relevant…
DE I: At what stage in your life did you really discover a sense of direction?
It came from a memory of the past. From the time I was in the mad house avoiding national service. I ran around the entire USSR, was committed three times, the third time was in Kostiuzhana in Moldova. At some point I was caught and sent to St.Petersburg for a month. The biggest problem was how to be a convincing lunatic. The doctors there didn’t miss a thing, there was no way of pulling a fast one on them. So for a month I pretended I was nuts (and then three months was in care to forget about it) and all around me were crazy people who I studied all the time. I observed them and absorbed them. One guy believed he was Mayak radio station all the time. He was sure he could really hear it and broadcast it. He would sit in the centre of the ward and broadcast the news with a newscaster’s voice. He was ‘plugged in’ for real. Another guy recited poetry eight hours a day. Magnificent poetry. It usually hit him after the third dose of aminazin (god, why didn’t I have something to record all this with?). Another guy only walked in a straight line, never turning. He’d bump into the wall if it got in his way, but he wouldn’t change direction. A fourth guy could scream in such a way that would make you wet yourself. When we sat down to lunch, and he sat at the head of the table, nobody could start to eat because we all knew that he’d scream and we’d drop our cutlery. He screamed once a day, before we ate. It wasn’t that loud, but the energy he gave out was enormous. When he screamed, everyone would try to be sure they weren’t chewing so we wouldn’t choke. The scream came from his entire body, from his diaphragm, up from the soles of his feet, pure Grotovskiy! Later on, when I studied movement, dance, I met Grotovskiy and remembered all this. He taught exactly what this screaming man already knew. Schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses can’t and shouldn’t be cured. Psychiatric problems aren’t problems, but discoveries. We force ourselves to be mentally ill in our performances. Rehearsals are very risky games where you play with your minds and your feelings, and we’re – all of us – people who are a little bit strange.
© DE I / DESILLUSIONIST ¹-1. "DECODER"