Refugee conversations

Access Point Festival, St Petersburg
Presented in the frame of Russian Case
Based on Bertolt Brecht

Director: Konstantin Ushchitel, Vladimir Kuznetsov
Age category 18+

Two people stroll along the railway station, play chess, wander into the station bar, drink tea and eat sandwiches and sit staring at the timetable monitors. A group of people with headphones closely watches them. The dialogue between the two actors, Maxim Fomin and Sergei Volkov, refers to food, the country, politics, Germany, the USSR, England, France and, above all, the war. This is the first Russian production of the play written by Brecht in 1940–41 when the playwright fled from his home country stricken by the brown contagion. Two voices – ingenuous, narrow-minded and acrimonious, intellectual – sound in close proximity to each spectator, while their owners approach and disappear. Thus works the method of alienation, which is here fused with the experience of a refugee lost in the waiting areas of a station (Brecht’s scenes play out at the Helsinki railway station, and the production of Konstantin Uchitel and Vladimir Kuznetsov for Access Point Festival runs at the Finland Station in St Petersburg). Members of a «secret society» (about 50 people with headphones) stroll among the surprised passengers and this is one of the strongest effects of the performance. The words frighten people around, but the intimacy of the performance ensures safety: «To determine whether we need to run away today or whether it is still enough to do so tomorrow requires as much effort as was required twenty-thirty years ago to create a work of genius.»

Alyona Karas