Inga Krasovska: “For those who have experienced Soviet times, the show will be a very interesting journey into the past.”
Photo: Ieva Leiniša/LETA
12:01 a.m. on September 20, 2023
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Tomorrow, September 22, the new 2023/2024 2018, the Liepāja theater will open the season with a performance in the small hall of the “Lielais dzintars” concert hall. The premiere will be opened by the production “Foreign Skin”, based on the popular novel “Russian Skin” by Dace Rukšana, directed by Inga Krasovska. Why such a choice for the directorial debut and why the change of accent – about that in this conversation.
Contemporary dance choreographer Inga Krasovska has worked as a choreographer and director’s assistant in theaters in Latvia and abroad for twenty years. Created many, many choreographies for productions in Daile and Liepāja theaters and elsewhere. Received the “Player’s Night” award in the “Movement Artist of the Year” category for her work in the Liepaja theater performances “Finita la comedia!”, “Onegin”, “Lucretia Borgia”, “Put, vējini!”, “Amadeus”, “The Witch” and “Shikas” wedding”, as well as several nominations for work in National and Valmiera theater productions.
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Now movement artist Inga Krasovska is making her directorial debut.
The dramatization of the play “Foreign Skin” was based on the motifs of the popular novel “Russian Skin” by Dace Rukšane. In the center of the play are the fates of two women – a mother and a daughter – in Liepāja, occupied after the war. The story is about feelings that shatter all notions. About a woman’s thirst for love, fulfillment of dreams and a happy life. Even though both women create and build their lives, being by each other’s side, their lives run parallel. Emily, chasing after a man’s love, is unable to give love to her daughter Meldra. The only thing that unites them is shared secrets and silence. And fragrances through which both women feel the world and the era in which they live in a nuanced way. Scents fade and change, but memories and feelings remain. How to love without hurting your closest person? How to get along if it is forbidden to speak?
– Inga, is “Foreign Skin” your first work as a dramatic theater director?
I. Krasovska: – No, two years ago I staged the full-length theater play “ParraDizzy” with Aija Andrejeva and Vitalija Jakovleva in the main roles at the Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theater. But, true, it was a theater performance without words. Then came a moment of reflection, whether I am interested in this profession of directing, because directing is a much more extensive work than creating choreographies. For all viewers, your contribution is obvious and clear, for example, in the dance-filled performance “Pūt, vējini!” In the theater of Liepāja, but in the productions “Svinības” or “Lion in winter” in Daile, you can ask: but what did the choreographer do there? However, every smallest movement and movement of the actors in the second and third planes of the stage is invented and created by the choreographer.
I read Dace Rukšana’s novel “Russian skin” in one breath. I was fascinated by the writer’s language, the novel’s time period, situations and characters’ relationships, as well as the fact that the action takes place in Liepāja, which is close to me.
When the director of the Liepaja theater Herberts Laukštein told me that he would like to create a play based on the novel by Dace Rukšane, I thought – why not me? It was clear that if I did not jump on this train immediately, someone else would do it very quickly. Since I have already entered the Academy of Culture several times and enrolled in the master’s degree in directing, but I have not finished it, apparently the idea and desire to direct had been brewing in me for a long time, and now I have started to fulfill it.
I am very happy that my favorite actress Inese Kučinska will play the main role of Emily in the show. By the way, this will also be a debut of sorts for her. If I’m not mistaken, the great actress will play for the first time in the Small Hall of the Liepāja Theater. The audience will have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the pearls of Inese Kučinska’s acting skills up close.
– Speaking of directing, it is interesting that you have been an assistant director abroad three times – at the Macedonian National Theater, at the Et Cetera Theater in Moscow and at the Romanian National Theater – and all three times with the Bulgarian director Alexander Morfov, whom the public remembers before covid as guest director Daile…
– Aleksandrs Morfovs is one of my main teachers in the profession and in the theater. A man of fantastic encyclopedic knowledge. Cooperation with him has been extremely developmental for me, he allowed me to do many things independently, only after he “corrected” me in the scenes I had started, I discovered a lot of production nuances, how to create the structure of a show with many characters on stage so , so that everyone is involved and no one is an extra who just stands with a glass in their hands.
– Why haven’t you staged a dramatization of Dace Rukšane’s novel “Russian skin”, but created the show based on the novel’s motifs?
– It loosens the hands to a certain extent, gives the opportunity to use the novel’s text and situations more fully, more kaleidoscopically with a transition to different times. But, of course, I did not change the language of the writer. Maybe my thinking is influenced by the fact that I am a modern dance choreographer who likes to work more with symbols and different visual associations. It’s more interesting to me than making a simple, linear story without an associative section.
To be honest, I was most attracted to the character of Emily in the novel with her thinking, not giving up and her eternally self-deprecating view of herself and fellow human beings even in the most dramatic situations of life. I think that a lot of things in our lives would turn out differently if we found and kept the ability not to lose our sense of humor in any situation. And also – do not go to extremes in any situation.
– What genre will the show be in?
– That’s exactly what I’m thinking about right now (the conversation took place ten days ago. – V.K.). Maybe an ironic drama? It is definitely a drama, but from my side – with an ironic touch about those times. Because right now we can’t seriously listen to the authentic music of the sixties and seventies, like, for example, pioneer marches, compositions of that time and songs with Latvian Soviet texts, which, of course, I have deliberately included in this musical performance. It is not possible without an ironic smile!
Since then, people’s thinking, views, perception of life have changed so much… For those who have experienced the Soviet times, it will be a very interesting journey into the past. My childhood was the seventies and eighties, which I remember very well. Now it seems so interesting to me that young actors “blink” their eyes at a lot of things and ask: could it really have been?! Was it really rude to kiss your girlfriend or show your feelings on the street back then? Well, as strange as it sounds now, back then such behavior was a great shame!
Publicity photo (Armandas Kaušelas).
– What are the highlights of your teenage years in the 1970s and 1980s?
– “Lipushki smell” – that’s what we called the stretchy substance that we used to stick in new buildings in Jelgava and make balls as children. And the second is the smell of fresh, freshly baked bread, for which people stood in long lines. Now you can no longer buy such bread.
– But how did the novel “Russian skin” become “Foreign skin” in the play?
– I think that many people today do not want to hear anything about Russian skin. Because the first association is connected with Russia and the terrible Ukrainian tragedy caused by its aggression, the pain caused to the Ukrainian people. But should it be about nationality in our perception? Is the divide ethnic? Does a nationality deserve condemnation, in this case Russian, or the system, Putin’s regime? A regime that the Russian people, unfortunately, did not want or were unable to overthrow?
– To be honest, even in those times, about which the novel tells, thanks to the huge, deliberately created immigration from the then Soviet Union with the aim of assimilating Latvians, we said Russians, but felt – foreigners…
– Yes, true. But now I think it is important to look at the concept of “foreigner” from another aspect, expanding it, and that is, by “foreigner” we also understand the other and to talk about its acceptance or non-acceptance in society. Today there are situations when friends or even close people become not only strangers, but even enemies. And people are so dramatically divided by beliefs about what is right or wrong to think, act, live… There is so much information and circumstances that make “your people” strangers.
Let’s remember how society was divided by views on how to live in covid, like a single pot, a stab in the shoulder divided even families so that they no longer talked to each other. Now – the war in Ukraine. For a logically thinking person, it seems that there are no questions here, but it turns out that there are! And a shock – a logical-thinking person close to you suddenly turns out to be in a foreign zone. Not to mention the theater environment, which is a barometer for the situation in Latvia, because the artist is generally like a litmus test for public health. Looking at the events in the environment of artists, you understand that the society is very sick. The confusion is overwhelming. A century has changed, an era has changed and values have changed, but the answer has not been really found, what is now good and what is not.
The days when actors in the theater felt like they were in one artistic family are over. There is nothing like it anymore! In the theater you have a job with a certain salary, we are all colleagues and at the same time – the absolute competitors. Right now, I am experiencing an absolute revolution in Liepāja theater and I can say that I am essentially creating a play in a “war zone”. Looking from the outside, I clearly see a huge confusion, people don’t really understand what they want. The old way is not the same anymore… But how to be the new way?
For me personally, the rebellion of the Liepāja theater actors against the theater’s long-time director and artistic director Herbert Laukshtein was an absolute surprise. I was in deep shock. Nothing like that could come to mind at any moment. I myself had created many shows and concerts in this theater, I had no idea that something like this could happen. It is no secret that there are no peaceful times and happy years in other state structures either.
– What helps you in such a situation?
– Understanding that we are all colleagues who are simultaneously fighting for their survival in the theater, for their roles and for their survival in the performing arts. Some are more sensitive, others less so. One falls, the others go on. So harsh. It just happens. It helps to understand that we are all who we are. I don’t idealize myself, I don’t say I’m perfect, and I understand that others aren’t either. I still understand that I can only trust myself. I try to understand the situation I’m in, I have to learn to find my goals in it and go for them.
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