Waiting for the light. The shady trail of the play “Hey, Who is There?”

  • 20.02.2024
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– Where does love begin? Where does a person rise up and go looking for himself? – Where do awareness, determination, and perseverance come from? – And who finds it all? – The one who loses and finds in life is the person himself. The interlocutors are shadows torn out of life, who make history by living and yearning for life.

They do indeed speak through silence and movements, they live on the stage of the Student Theater of Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinema. “Hey, Who is There?” shadow play, staged with the use of expressions of contemporary theater art and modern trends, has reproduced William Saroyan’s work with new ideas in the stage setting.

Hakob Markosyan’s directorial way of thinking is ingenious. First of all, the fact that he staged the shadow play “Hey, Who is There?” is not based on Saroyan’s work, but on the impression he got from this play, already speaks of his unique creative approach. The goal, of course, is phantasmagoria on the basis of inner compulsion. Here love, strength, and kindness are the means. And the human being, with his inner strength and weakness, victories and defeats, is in the center.

The girl is a cook in the play. By actively using shadowy kitchen utensils, they become the main tools on stage and are used in various situations in the play. Body captive, body flying into the embrace, exclamations of “Hey, who is there?”, steaming souls struggling in anticipation, waiting in the struggle. Rush into the uncertainty, to the place where love waits and where no one else is. Desires, thirst for freedom, imprisoned emotions.

This play is about the inner search of the human being and the way of overcoming the self. One can find more aesthetic logic in each of the scene in this active “shadow movement” if the plastic solutions are pushed to the foreground, and in some cases the actors (actors Inessa Khachatryan, Garik Khachaturyan) did not appear with dance movements, slightly disturbing the tempo of the performance. It is worth mentioning that the work on shadow theater aesthetics fundamentally changes the imaginative process of the director’s conception. For instance, the presence of a light actress (Nare Avakyan) in the performance allows to enlarge and shrink the shadows of the acting characters, as well as the objects, simultaneously creating mood and atmosphere.

The silent characters, interacting with each other through movement, prove the absoluteness of Saroyan’s poetics and bio philosophy. Speaking of Akop’s directorial script in general, it should be noted that he likes to connect personal experiences with inner goals through various references. Thus, if you are attentive, you can find connecting points and see the whole play from a different perspective. During the play, when it seems that the characters achieve their long-awaited freedom, everything is once again relatively changed and gets the opposite effect.

The girl, closing again, concludes with an important formula: despair can sometimes be used against one’s self. We shall also speak about the music. The music by Italian composer Ludovico Ainaudi ensures the play’s internal development and completeness of meaning. It is not accidental that the director chose this composer, whose melody is attractive and not tiresome, calm and ethereal.

The shadow play “Hey, Who is There?” creates an aesthetic mood and strives for completeness by finding light in space. Maybe on the world… Maybe inside the person. Or in the eyes of a shadowed reality. A man living in the shade needs light, too… And Apollo has probably passed by this play…..

Vova Arzumanyan

P.S. The producer of the play “Hey, Who is There?” is David Jinanian. This performance will undoubtedly continue the festival journey.

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