Rimas Tuminas: and the heavens are watching our play

Elena Ragozhina, New Style from 6 November, 2012

six months of the theater director, Rimas Tuminas are rich with anniversaries. On
November 13, 2011 the Vakhtangov Theater headed by him celebrated its 90 years
anniversary. (This was exactly the day in 1921, when the play “The Miracle
of St. Anthony” was staged for the first time), and in January of this
year, the maestro himself celebrated his sixtieth anniversary. However, in
fact, the director is just 57 years old: but after the war, to get a position
of the mobile film projector mechanic, 14-year-old Rimas added himself three
years. Tuminas joined the Vakhtangov Theater at a difficult period for the
theater, becoming, by the way, the first foreign director to head the State
Academic Theatre of Russia.
Although in 5 years the director had to go through difficult times, today, each
premier of the theater becomes event in the life of Moscow. Last year, the Vakhtangov Theater was
recognized as the most visited theater of the capital.

a high-profile and successful tour of the Moscow theater “Sovremennik”
the producer, Oksana Nemchuk could not help but notice a great interest of London
audience to the Russian theater. Having conceived the idea of regular Russian
theater seasons in London,
in November this year Oksana will bring a famous performance of the Vakhtangov
Theater, “Uncle Vanya.” Winner of the “Golden Mask”,
“Uncle Vanya” was acknowledged the best performance of Russia
in 2011. From 5th to 10th of November 2012 Noel Coward
theater stage will host the Russian theater and movie stars in the legendary
Chekhov play.

Dossier:Rimas Tuminas – is the theater
director, artistic director of the Vakhtangov Theater. He was born on January
20, 1952 in
Kelme (Lithuania).
In 1970-1974 he studied at the Theatre School of Vilnius Conservatory; then
studied directing at the Moscow GITIS (the Tumanov course). He made his debut
in the theater of the drama of the Lithuanian SSR with “January”
performance based on the play of J. Radichkov (1978). His first Moscow production was the “Melody
for Peacock” by O. Zagradnik (1979) at the Stanislavsky Theater. From 1979
to 1990 he was the director, from 1994 to 1999 – the chief director of the
State Academic Drama Theatre of Lithuania. In 1990 he founded and headed the
Maly Drama Theatre in Vilnius.
In 2007 he accepted the offer of the Federal Agency for Culture and
Cinematography and became artistic director of the Moscow Vakhtangov Theater.
Tuminas is the winner of the State Prize of Russia (1999) and a number of
theater awards: the “Golden Mask”, “Golden Nail”,
“Crystal Turandot” Stanislavsky Award. He was awarded the Order of
the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas (1998), as well as the Order of Friendship
(2010) for his contribution to the development of cultural relations with the Russian Federation,
the preservation and promotion of the Russian language and culture abroad.

Muscovites the Vakhtangov Theater on Arbat has always been an integral part of
the city, a kind of icon. How hard was it to decide to take the lead in such an
iconic theater?
That was the difficulty so I was aware of how difficult it is. And at first Irefused. Probably I wanted (and still
want!) to be a free director: came – staged – gone! And then put on the bohemian
hat draped scarf and walked along the Arbat, “Hi, Vakhtangov! Hi, ‘Sovremennik’!
To play free creator is very easy, however, it seems to me, the artist is a
person who upholds the values ​​- those that still remain. And after asking myself the
question, “Who will do it?”, – I answered myself, “Just
me.” I believe in nab, in love, in devotion, in fate, in the theater, and
therefore I have to go and win. This belief helps me, I’m not afraid of
responsibilities, challenges and management issues.

come to the theater with great actors, the established repertoire and a pile of
problems. When you enter the business, where there are more questions than
answers, do not you down the hands? With what do you start first, the
repertoire, the organization of production, household problems? Where did you
I began by taking 7 performances off the repertoire. Of course, it was a challenge,
but I had to do it. For a variety of reasons: some performances were obsolete
or purely entertaining, deceiving viewers with illusory happiness. I do not
want to deceive people, I want to show that we are in trouble, in a good light
trouble, but we are alive, and even bitter and painful, but we can be happy
that we are alive. To fly over these troubles and rise – this is the Vakhtangov
Theater. You see a bird in the sky, admiring its flight; and no one has ever
raised the question: maybe she is sick? And this is her last flight? Whether
the bird is in love or single? But no one has asked the bird about this, all are
just happy that it flies. This was the senseless joy I removed. And I attracted
attention to our illnesses. People are not to blame: they have taken the fate
of the country, its political situation so hard that they would only want to
laugh or cry of this load. The public did not have the middle: it’s either
Pugacheva or we; drama or Galkin. That’s all. This is the middle I want to fill
in, to make it clear: yes, we are sick, but not hopeless. We are just infected,
and the theater can help us to wake up, to get rid of the nightmares, to
recover. The director has no right to impose his nightmares on viewers – it is
his personal problems. He must love, sympathize, empathize.

“The Pier” play is the anniversary one; it involves all the old and
new members of the theater …
Sorry, but this performance is a reflection of my self. I did not consider the
fate of the individuals, Lanovoy, Yakovlev, Borisova. I peered into my youth – in
what I loved, things that live in my memory. The performance consists of eight
plays. I wanted to bring back the beauty of those years, when I was in love,
admired, appreciated. Through the leading actors of the theater, I appeal to
the beauty and goodness, to which we were delighted to kneel. We lost all of
these values ​​today, and I wanted to bow and say, “Thank you for having been in
my life; and if you are still there this is wonderful!” THEY made the play
– with their memory, energy, they shouted with their life, and I’m with them! I
just followed them.

to continue to work on the staged performances, make some changes, adjustments?
Yeah, I do not leave my performances: I come to the theater to see the
performance, help, give advice to actors; express some comments. Sometimes we
need to be cleansed to hear the time, the echo of our life today.

example of such longevity is your “Masquerade”, which is staged for many
years in the Vilnius Theatre …
I can not take it off… Sometimes I think: that’s enough, it’s time. But I
feel that the performance is still necessary, “it is played in
heaven,” there is life, blood, and nerve.

you plan a new performance, what underlines it: the company, actors or the
play, the topic you are interested in? What is first for you: who will play or
what to play?
Plays. My job is secondary; I recognize the primacy of the author. I go after;
I am with life, not in front of it, but near it. Therefore, initially the people,
characters, fate emerge. Then you try on: who would have played it, in which theater,
in which country? As Ronsard said: “Fate assigns the roles. And heavens are
watching our play! “

you directorial life you returned to the Uncle
Vanya for many times. How not to repeat yourself, your Uncle Vanya, staged ten years ago?
I’m not trying to. Sometimes, I like a song or a romance. It sounds in me,
accompanies by life, so I sing it again and again. Good! I can sing it for a
hundred times! Uncle Vanya is a song!
And isn’t it interesting how we will sing it this time? But it will always be a
song about how we say goodbye to a life that all of us at some point will have
to say goodbye to it, and it is necessary to learn – not to become angry,
bitter. And after two years I will stage Uncle
Vanya again, I will return to this song. Worse or better – but I will stage
it. Perhaps everyone will be fed with me, but I will do it again! We must be
honest. Whether you feel food or bad, sing this song. This is not some Vanya – this
is my father, my uncle, my dear man. And if I’ll be tied to him like to my dear
one, then, perhaps, I will not make a mistake; I will not be false.

you wanted to film Uncle Vanya?
Yes, I wanted to. I get asked this question – maybe because on stage I’m doing
installation; and my education is TV directing. But at some point I realized
that what I want to show can be expressed only in the theater. In the theater,
you can show all. The film … Now, perhaps, it’s too late, but I still want to
make a movie.

I will be ashamed to say at my age, “I made ​​a debut in filming.” (Laughs)

fact that the theater again after a long break gained popularity is pleasing.
And what about the material side of the issue? Does the theater still need public
funding or this is the thing of the past?
The fact that the state does not turn away from us helps – it’s noble and
beautiful. Without this it is impossible, but we try to earn for ourselves, to thank
the government for support. If you consider yourself smart and talented, you should
be able to make money for yourself!

year, you have already come to London
to attend the Shakespeare Festival, now you have to tour with Uncle Vanya. How did it happen that the
Vakhtangov Theatre was invited to the capital of Britain?
We are happy and proud that we have been noticed and invited to the Shakespeare
Festival. It’s very important for the theater – when people know about it, see
it, invite. Tour of Uncle Vanya is another
story. This year our performance was the best performance of the year and
Oksana invited us to bring it to London.
So, the world needs us – and not only Shakespeare, but our Chekhov too.