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Friends' theatre in Delft

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Friends' theatre in Delft


Amateur Russian Theatre in Delft (Netherlands) seems to be the only theatre in the country, where adult actors from the country's Russian-speaking community perform. The actors themselves humbly name their theatre, which is 7 years old now, a "drama club". There is no stage director here, and this is a core principle - they decide everything together. Actor Yuliy Nazarov told about this unusual theatre.

– How did Amateur Theatre in Delft emerge?

Fragment from "Man from USSR" performance

– As far as I remember, we gathered in 2009 for the first time. We were all quite mature at the time - everyone lives quite usual lives, where there are families, jobs and friendship. And all of this gets boring at the end, at least to me. I had the feeling, that life went by, I wanted something new, maybe even unnecessary and childish. And then an idea of making a "drama club" emerged among our friends, hence comes our official name - Delft DramaClub, we don't go for a big title of a "theatre". At the beginning, we did not give too much weight to our acting and did not even think we could one day make a big performance. But it was too exciting. I think, the clinching role had the feeling of "team spirit" - we all felt the responsibility for our joint activity. 

– What plays did the club start with?

– It was Chekhov's "Jubilee". A vaudeville suited best for the atmosphere of creating something absolutely new! Relaxed atmosphere and new emotions cheered us so much, that the work on it ran easily. Great opening night was held in May 2010 in the same hall (referring to a theatre auditorium with an imitated stage and side stage in the form of a sliding door at the "De Hofstee" Centre in Delft). After the premiere night, our club stopped for a while - it seemed, we had reached our goal and it was difficult to find another play. But after a while, in late 2011 – early 2012, we performed "Jubilee" once more and added scenes from "An Ordinary Miracle" by Shvarts to our repertoire. Many people remember this play and love it, everyone in his own way. This is the greatest thing about it - when people share their perceptions and something beautiful and massive comes out of their vision.
– Why did you choose quite a complicated Nabokov's play "Man from USSR" after the first experiences in performing?

– Everyone here has had an emigration experience, so the play was interesting for us. It turned to be too complicated, we stopped rehearsing a lot of times, but restarted every time and at the end of January we finally performed.  

Everyone of us had a personal view of emigration, of the play's heroes collisions. It is complicated to accept, but as soon as a sense of affinity appears, then a simple addition of individual contributions multiplies the result, which you wouldn't get without the help of your friends.

For me, the play is much more tragic, as it may appear out of interpretation of its simple text without symbolic or absurd "dodges" of that period. A bunch of emigrants did not just leave their motherland, but it was wiped off the map, and the one, which is on its place, bears a name of "three-S-R". They do not give up, they’re active and willingly take the lowest jobs, some business, even though doing it in a strictly Russian way - with strain and complaining all the time. They try to love, live but not survive, but it does not work, as though they don't have something important for it. Nabokov's heroes are stuck fast inside the recipient country.

– You do everything voluntary - people rehearse and perform free. Where do you find money for performances? 

– Oh, yes, who is going to pay us, when professional actors of the highest rank in the Netherland receive social allowance? How do we find money for our performances? Well, acting is a pleasure for us, and one has to pay for the pleasure (smiles). We found the hall to perform with the Nabokov's play through our friends, who have already been to this cultural centre. Actually, it is not a problem to find a hall for such a kind of event in the outlands, even for a reasonable price: burthauses, schools and even the university do willingly rent halls for hourly payment and the sums are not that large.

– Have anyone of you perform in amateur theatres in the motherland?
– As far as I know, none of us, except for Svetlana Vdovina, has acted in even simple drama clubs - there are far more interesting activities, when you are young. Perhaps, this is why we do not have a stage director here, we decide on most of artistic and organizational issues together. It is complicated and therefore important that we are all good old friends, know each other for a long time and got to defuse conflicts. The club's leader, Gleb Vdovin, is rather a producer, than a director - he has a great experience of organising and achieving results in a small team, it was his idea to create the DramaClub. Who are we? We are all different: a professor, an accountant, a housemaid, a teacher, a businessman.

– Isn't it tricky acting without a director? When everyone is equal, but has different points of view, doesn't it become difficult?

– We'd take a director with pleasure, but where do we get a good one? We cannot pay him, but we do not need a bad one at the same time. Our purpose is to make art, rehearsals make us develop, we enjoy them. And suddenly, we get a miracle just out of pleasure, isn't it great?

– How does your group interact with the Russian-speaking audience?

– We have lived here for a long time, everyone of us has access to websites, where there are many Russian-speaking friends. We have invited all of them to the performance, but everyone wouldn’t fit in even three halls. Social networks, such as Facebook and Live Journal were of great help - people, who are active there, are also active in the real life as well. Perhaps, one third were familiar to me, another third I have seen or heard something about, the rest of the people were completely strangers to me or familiar from the social networks.

– Haven't you tried performing something in Dutch?

– We had this idea at rehearsals. Maybe, one day we will perform something in Dutch in order to broaden cultural ties with the Dutch.

– Do natives come to your performances?

– Not much. They have to speak Russian for it. Only spouses of their Russian husbands and wives come and watch, not even speaking the language. I do not know, whether they catch anything from the images, but they do smile while watching, faces content. Bilingual children, born in Holland come. They do understand everything, they like our performances and ask for more.


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