William Shakespeare


Kolyada-Theatre, Yekaterinburg
Director Nikolai Kolyada

The playwright and director Nikolai Kolyada plays Lear from the perspective of his own experience. Kolyada’s production needs to be seen at the theatre’s home venue – an old wooden building in the centre of Yekaterinburg. The theatre inside is like a house where a large family has lived for a long time. In the industrious and faceless city this house looks like a fossilized creature. In reality the building was given to the theatre just two years ago, and its homely appearance is down to the collection of items brought by Kolyada, who tends to gather things rejected by others for being impractical.

In exactly the same way people in the state, divided among Lear’s daughters, consider impractical such points like duty, devotion, patience and unselfishness. They look like a herd of animals that Shakespeare described as “poor naked two-legged animals.” They wear underclothes and express primitive feelings by stretching their lips with fingers and pressing squeaky Chinese-made toys, which Kolyada bought at the local market.

At first King Lear played by Kolyada himself looks the same: he is a creature in underpants, the leader of the pack. Kolyada plays Lear as a barbarian who stood upright and became a human being after suffering pain and distress. But Cordelia who was born human by mistake dies young, and Lear who has finally become human is too old to pass on the family name. Kolyada contends that human beings do not stand a chance in this world.

At the end his Lear looks like our good friend in a black pullover and a skull cap – the theatre director who pays his actors out of his drama grants. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Ural magazine which exists in impossible financial conditions and a teacher who taught several generations of playwrights, although modern plays are not needed by the theatre. He is the person who through his own life proves the concept that man still exists not because of evolution but in spite of it.

Elena Kovalskaya

The performance has barely managed to start as the actors in Nikolai Kolyada’s troupe literally attack the audience. Their collective rush of energy is unbelievable. Many of his productions begin in this way with rhythmic and wordless large-scale scenes. They are not required for the plot that starts later, but are essential for the atmosphere, for that aching feeling of a small life, while not exactly happy nevertheless seeks out its day on the sidelines of a bigger life. There is desperation in the expressive dances to loud music, as well as the public loneliness, sadness and sincere joy. In general, it is something like an open theatre rehearsal. No doubt in other theatres this would be the actor’s warm up prior to the performance. <…>

Nikolai Kolyada directed King Lear about his own delusions of theatre and acting, of how he voluntary “went mad” taking responsibility for the other “crazies.” Time meanwhile passes and life does too. However the Kolyada-theatre is not seeking anyone’s compassion and after seeing King Lear you have no desire to pity it, moreover, you may want to say that life passes correctly, as it should do, in the right way and not in vain.

Roman Dolzhansky