Based on Nikolai Gogol’s poem “Dead souls” is the first Gogol Center large-scale project on Russian classics. In Kirill Serebrennikov's show the Nikolai Gogol's poem about the costumer of "dead souls" Pavel Chichikov isn't transfered to nowadays literary but it gets completely new and relevant voice. Different ages meet each other in everlasting Russian timelessness, where absurd and trouble have broken loose. Serebrennikov creates the full image of Russian life where nothing ever changes.
Gogol’s characters move in the cramped space among the plywood walls — in the box without a possibility of escape. There are 10 male actors on stage. Masterly fictional theatre meets detailed theatre of psychological school. Every actor plays multiple roles, so Gogol’s landlords are flawlessly turning into old women, children, rustic drunks, ladies, horses or dog pack. Chichikov becomes a victim of this world without any way out.
The songs for the show were specially written by a well-known Russian contemporary composer Alexander Manotskov. They are based on Gogol’s “lyrical digressions” — philosophical texts about Russia from the poem. They are performed by the whole choir of actors and suddenly become to bear a resemblance to the songs of Bertolt Brecht, but the question „Russia, what do you want from me?“ stays without an answer.
"This story is a projection of the “Dead Souls” into another of Gogol’s texts, “The Gamblers”. That’s to say a situation, where one cheat wants to swindle everyone but in the end gets swindled by other cheats. The show already exists as a score; the composer, Alexander Manotskov wrote music for the production and I made the adaptation. In the previous version Gogol‘s text was in Latvian and I am eager to finally hear it in Russian. This kind of literature is worth being staged. This work of Gogol is a key to understanding Russian life.
All characters and personality types of Russian people are expressed in traits of Korobochka, Nozdrev, Sobakevich, Manilov and others. One of the surprises of the production is who will play whom. The cast is quite unexpected. For example one of the leading actors of our theatre, Honoured artist of Russia, Oleg Gutshin will play Korobochka and Chichikov’s role will be performed by a young American, Odin Biron and a theatre actor from Moscow, Semen Steinberg".
Kirill Serebrennikov, director
The show represents songs by Alexander Manotskov based on the texts by N.V.Gogol.