Marius von Mayenburg


Gogol Centre, Moscow
Award nominations 2015

Драма / спектакль большой формы
работа режиссера (Kirill Serebrennikov)
женская роль ()
мужская роль ()
роль второго плана ()

Участник программы «Russian Case» Фестиваля 2015 года

Director: Kirill Serebrennikov

Set designer: Vera Martynova, Kirill Serebrennikov

Kirill Serebrennikov’s production is based on an adapted version of the play by the German playwright Marius von Mayenburg. It projects a story of a school conflict on the state of modern Russian society.

The teenager Benjamin Ugine experiencing difficult growing up turns into a religious fanatic. With the Bible in his hands he protects himself with biting quotes from anything that scares: from the growing call of the flesh, from peers’ mockery, from lies and aggression of adults. Meeting the confusion and vanity, an outcast turns into a castigator. Neither the tortured with housekeeping mother nor indifferent school authorities nor the cunning priest is able to oppose anything substantial to the embittered neophyte. An infantile and fragmented society incapable of self-organization generates extremism. The Serebrennikov’s performance that clearly formulates public threats and diseases of today offers an alternative to the charming in its simplicity fanaticism. The second ideological pole of the show is the teacher of biology with her cult of reason and science. The Martyr is made with huge strokes, almost like a poster, sometimes grotesquely. The director's whole statement is supported by several bright actors’ works.

Anna Banasyukevich

.... “Martyr” is a rebellion against the totalitarian slave consciousness, hypocrisy, creeping fascisation of society, all manifestations of bigotry generated by the imperial post-traumatic syndrome.
Power is in the truth.
The theatre of open action professed by Serebrennikov does not tolerate nuances and ambiguities: like in Balabanov’s films, its power is in the in the truth. This truth does not taste bitter, it makes the taste unbearable. To drive out the demons Serebrennikov does not use a saucer with garlic but aspen stakes which he drives into the intended target with all his might, like a blacksmith does with his red-hot hammer...

The New Times

Kirill Serebrennikov staged “Martyr” by Marius von Mayenburg at the Gogol Centre. On the example of a school it is demonstrated how easily religious fanaticism can overmaster a conformist community. Probably in no other theatre the Bible was quoted so often as at the Gogol Centre during the rehearsals of “Martyr”. Each sentence is provided with reference to the book, chapter and verse in huge letters projected onto the white wall. It is not that Kirill Serebrennikov met the Lord and wants to share this with everyone. On the contrary, the characters utter something so shocking, so cruel, so non-corresponding to the “religion of love” that the director has to prove documentarily that everything is taken from the Scripture.... Nevertheless, conformism gives up in the face of a fanatic – this is the conclusion which Mayenburg draws in his play. In the end, Benjamin reaches his goal: the biology teacher is called ‘a disgrace of school’ to her face and gets fired. The teacher refuses to go away; instead, she nailed her gumshoes with nails to the floor, as if in response to the two-meter cross made by her ill-wisher which appeared on the school wall in the morning. And it becomes clear that the word “martyr” in the title refers only to her.


... The boy Benjamin is a religious terrorist. He terrorizes others with the Holy Scripture, pushes them to act in full compliance with the texts in the book which is always with him. The quotes from the Bible, with which he tries to instruct his mother, classmates and teachers in a stricter and more hysterical way, every now and then are displayed in large letters on the wall. Doubling the spoken with the visual, the director actually avoids discussing the religious topic as such, like he puts the letter M in brackets in the performance title (just in case to be safe from possible charges of insulting someone's fragile feelings). The Bible is the Bible, that is not the point. Martyr or not, that is not the point. The important thing is that it is all about a student, i.e. so-called normal part of society. The performance is about the sick modern Russian society which becomes (or rather, is made) less stable in the face of fanatics...

Kommersant Newspaper