On Jan. 6, 1997, a group of Yale School of Drama students and faculty members David Chambers and Earle Gister will head for St. Petersburg, Russia, commencing a historic collaboration between the college and the St. Petersburg Academy of Dramatic Arts, considered the finest theatre school in Russia.
The long-term goal of the project is to present a full production of Nikolai Gogol's The Inspector General ("Revizor"), done in the style of Vsevolod Meyerhold, who offered Moscow a radical interpretation of the comedy in 1926.
The Americans' five-week stint in St. Pete will be filled with workshops and rehearsals alongside a similar group of Russian students and faculty. Then, in fall 1997, the Russian group will come to Yale for a week of performances of Inspector, followed by another week for both groups in St. Petersburg. The play will be done in two versions, English and Russian, with a combined cast of 32. In the Russian version, Russians will play the leads; roles will be switched for the English version.
Professor Chambers, Associate Professor of Acting and Directing, sees the project as "an unprecedented artistic and educational co-venture between two of the foremost dramatic academies of their respective countries." Chambers and Russian director Gennady Trostianetsky will co direct.
According to Russian scholar Nikolai Pesochinsky, who, with Chambers, was instrumental in setting up the exchange, Meyerhold theatre technique "has not been fully explored in Russia since the 1920's. We are most enthusiastic about this collaboration." Meyerhold served as chief director of the Alexandranski Theatre in St. Petersburg, 1907-1917. The Inspector General first premiered at that theatre in 1836. Meyerhold, executed during the Stalinist purges, offered non-realistic stagings of plays that were radically opposed to the popular Stanislavski/Moscow Art Theatre aesthetic of the time (and, to a great extent, our time).
--By David Lefkowitz