The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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The First Participants of the Tolstoy Weekend Festival Announced


On June 9-11, 2018 the international Tolstoy Weekend Festival will take place for the third time in the setting of the Yasnaya Polyana Estate; leading Russian and foreign theaters will show their productions based on works by Tolstoy and other writers. The ticket sale will begin in mid May. The festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Rostech State Corporation.

In 2018, the program director of the Tolstoy Weekend is Pavel Rudnev, a theater critic and the assistant art director of the A.P. Chekhov Moscow Art Theater for special projects. According to him, „The appearance of the separate Tolstoy festival is a powerful incentive for theaters to do productions based on the classical author’s heritage.”

In the year of the 190th anniversary of Tolstoy‘s birth, the festival will open with the play The Forged Coupon by the Kolyada Theater (Ekaterinburg). “Our program has several aspects. First of all, long performances in the open air. Kolyada Theater, the most well-known private theater in Russia, is coming from Ekaterinburg; tickets to its plays, if they are put on in Moscow, sell out within two days. The director Nikolai Kolyada staged the story The Forged Coupon, which is rarely found in theaters’ repertoire, and whose main idea is that the chain of evil can last forever and it’s not easy to stop it. The play of the Kolyada Theater does not offer simple advice; it tells about the commonness of evil, in many ways following Leo Tolstoy’s aesthetics,” Rudnev says.  

This year, the festival will again include a children‘s and teenagers‘ program. For our young audience, the play The Responsible Child, based on Vera Polozkova‘s book, will be shown: an acquaintance with a kind magician who drives a wash basin without any wheels, and his friend – a fiery dog. The play was conceived as gratitude to children for not letting adults get used to the world, not letting them cease to like making things up, and to stop noticing magic. Another play in the program is The Giant’s Dreams, based on Eleanor Farjeon’s story about a small person, kind and industrious, who very much wanted to become a giant. An old nanny who knows all the tales in the world will tell whether his dream came true. Specially for the festival, the Storytelling Workshop, so well-loved by children, is preparing its own versions of Tolstoy’s stories for children.

For adults, we‘ll show the storytelling play Who Murdered Anna, staged by the independent Moscow theater Le Cirque De Charles La Tannes, with actors from Dmitry Brusnikin‘s Workshop. The 700-page-long novel will be told and acted out within arm’s reach of the spectators.

Every year, the festival prepares a special project that later continues to „live“ at the estate. In 2018, it will be a walk/play by the director Evgeny Malenchev, playwright Yulia Pospelova, designer Anastasia Bugaeva, and composer Grigory Polukhutenko. „The journey-play is based on the diaries, letters, and memoirs of Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sophia; fragments of the novel War and Peace will also be used in the text. In our play, there won‘t be a traditional division into the stage and audience space, there won’t even be a division into spectators and actors; there will be only participants,” says Evgeny Malenchev.

The unusual format of the project will let every participant have a unique sensual and emotional experience. The authentic space of the estate within which the action will take place will help immerse one into a story of complicated human relations. 

This year, the Tolstoy Weekend festival has a pre-program. On May 5, there will be a screening of films by participants in the School of Documentary Cinema and Theater of Marina Razbezhkina and Mikhail Ugarov at the Yasnaya Polyana Cultural Center.

„The idea of showing the latest documentary cinema in the pre-program was based on the fact that Leo Tolstoy – an advocate of the idea of simplicity – unmasked the fabrication of life, and its mawkishness, and suggested that we should love life itself rather than conceptions of life. He wrote about the common man. At present, a significant part of culture is documentary cinema with its strict ethical code: not to interfere in the life of the common man, not to try and embellish it or make it more colorful. Documentary film-making today is the highest embodiment of realism and true interest in the ordinary person,” says Pavel Rudnev.

The Tolstoy Weekend first took place in 2016. The idea of the festival belongs to the Governor of Tula Region, Aleksei Dyumin. In 2017, the festival became international. It was visited by 5,000 guests, including over 100 representatives of federal and regional media, who called the Tolstoy Weekend the main summer theater event of the year.

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