DRAMATIST VALENTIN KRASNOGOROV AND HIS PLAYS
Krasnogorov’s name is well acclaimed by theater-goers in Russia and all over the world. His plays Let’s Have Sex!, The Dog, Small Tragedies, The Delights of Adultery, Somebody Must Leave, Now or Never, Love Medicine, Several Hours From the Lifes of a Man and a Woman, That Weak Gentle Sex, The Bride’s Room, A Cruel Lesson, etc. are well received by both critics and audience. As of today, 35 plays authored by him have been performed in more than 300 theaters. «One Passion and Four Walls», Krasnogorov’s book on the essence of drama, earned praise of notable theater figures. He is the founder and first president of the Dramatists Guild of St.-Petersburg.
The mastery of the playwright spans a wide range of unique talents and superb skills. The combination of biting satire, a keen sense of humor, the art of grotesque and absurd, tender lyricism, and a deep appreciation of the human nature makes Krasnogorov’s theater pieces so sought-after, so delightful and delicious. The conflicts in his plays are set off by his style of easy yet brilliant dialogue, lively dynamics, and intensive action. The author uses witty plots and paradoxical situations to involve readers and audiences into the world created by his imagination.
Krasnogorov’s plays have been directed by many prominent theater directors, such as Georgy Tovstonogov, Lev Dodin, and Roman Viktyuk. His plays are held in the permanent repertoire of many theaters and some have already been played several hundreds times. They are always enthusiastically received by audiences. Critics note that «Krasnogorov’s plays cross borders easily». Many of them have been translated into foreign languages and performed on stage, radio and television in the US, Great Britain, Australia, India, Germany, Poland, Romania, Montenegro, Mongolia, Cyprus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, etc. These plays have received numerous awards for the best drama and audience awards at various international theater festivals.
Apart from drama, Valentin Krasnogorov has written novellas, short stories, and essays. His biography is included in «Marquis Who’s Who in the World» (USA), «International Who’s Who of Intellectuals»(Cambridge, England), etc.
PLAYS AND SCREENPLAYS
A. THE PLAYS TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH
A CRUEL LESSON — drama about social and psychological roots of cruelty, about the invisible line dividing moral actions from immoral ones. A real psychological experiment, which has been carried out in the USA and has received world wide attention, forms the basis of the play. Under a professor’s guidance students torture a woman. All four of the participants of the strange experiments are interwoven by personal relations. Dynamic plot commands the rapt attention of the audience. 2 men ,2 women. Interior
The curtains have just closed on the long-awaited premiere of Shakespeare’s Othello and the actors remain on stage to celebrate opening night. Unfortunately, the party is marred by a mysterious death, and every of the participants of this cocktail party is the prime suspect. Black humour with ‘whodunnit’ intrigue, plot twists, and an unexpected climax; Cocktail After Premiere is riveting until the very end. The world premiere was staged in 2010 by Russia’s most famous theatre director — Roman Viktyuk — to critical acclaim and has been hailed as an enormous success. 4 men and 3 women. Interior
LET’S HAVE SEX! All of the characters in this strange, absurd play talk and think only about sex. But the frivolous title of this comedy is deceptive: the drama is complicated, tragic, and at the same time, amusing. It is difficult to define the genre of this play. It may be called a psychological drama, theatre of the absurd, a play that deals with paradox, a philosophical play; it may be defined as a comedy, but it would not be a mistake to describe it also as a tragedy. The characters come from nowhere and leave to nowhere; they are familiar to each other and yet seem to see each other for the first time. There are five characters in the play: the Husband, the Wife, the Sister, the Girl and the Professor. They are quite real and authentic yet it is difficult to know whether the Wife really is someone’s wife, the Professor a real professor, and so on. There is no plot in the traditional meaning of the word. The play is constructed on the principle of a rondo: movement goes in a circle or, more precisely, a spiral. The characters’ actions are motivated by loneliness, their yearning for love and emotional connection, their desire to escape. Or perhaps the dialogue is all simply the product of a deranged mind? This extraordinary play was first staged in Moscow in 2003 by Mr. Roman Viktyuk, arguably Russia’s most famous theatre director, where it has enjoyed enormous success, both in Russia and in subsequent productions around the world. 2 men and 3 women. Interior .
SMALL TRAGEDIES. — A triptych of short plays of a keen philosophical content, written in a very modern style with a great imaginative force. The central tenet of the plays revolves around how difficult it is for men to hear and understand each other. An unusual theatrical form arouses great audience interest. The play was first presented by the famous Big Drama Theatre in St. Petersburg and enjoyed major critical and popular success.
The stories: 1. Pelicans Of The Wilderness. Four quite independent lines of action are simultaneously developed in this short play: a girl meeting her lover, a lonely man who requests a doctor’s visit to have a human being to talk with, a blind man who is abandoned by his companion, and an old woman waiting in vain for help. All the lines form a whole, which is full of passion and meaning.
2. What Are You Thinking Of? A man and his wife are talking during dinner, but their words don’t matter. While talking the man dreams of freedom, love, fame, happiness, and his dreams materialize on the scene.
3. The Wall. A man and his wife discover one morning that an invisible wall has arisen between them. In spite of all their attempts, they cannot overcome it. This short play is a dialogue between two people who cannot hear each other. 4 men and 3 women . Interior .
THE DELIGHTS OF ADULTERY. – A trio of skillfully interconnected short plays which offer three contrasting scenes from the life of a lovers’ couple. The plays may be presented either singly (as is done in the world famous Big Drama Theatre in St. Petersburg), or as a three-act play. Easy dialogue, paradoxical plot, comical, sometimes farcical situations, and dramatic skill keep audience spellbound until the last word of the play. DELIGHTS OF ADULTERY are staged at the very popular Maly Drama Theatre, St. Petersburg. More than 400 performances have been given to date. The story. 1. The wedding is to be tomorrow. The happy bride is in the embrace of her lover, but…he is not her bridegroom. They are to decide what to do next. 2. The lovers have a rendezvous in the man’s apartment. 3. The lovers meet again, maybe for the last time. The love and happiness are gone. Why? And who is to blame? 1 man, 1 woman . Interior .
THE DOG. There are 3 characters in this drama: a man, a woman and … a dog (who is to be played by a child or by an actress). The action turns on a simple premise: the man wants to have his dog killed and leads it to a veterinary station, where the woman works. The dog hinders his lifestyle — but can love and faithfulness hinderanybody? Character of the woman — biting, and sometimes aggressive, but unselfish, ready to love and to help — determined the play’s title. This touching play is presented by many theatres with great success.
A Note From the Director Howard Fishman:
“The American Theater Company is proud to introduce itself to New York City with our production of The Dog by Valentin Krasnogorov, the first mounting of this unique and challenging play on any American stage.
My feeling for The Dog has not changed since my first encounter with it several years ago, when I read it on the advice of its translator while living in New Orleans. What I admire it most for is its nobility of spirit, and for the heart that beats so vulnerably within it. Unquestionably it is a difficult play – thorny and elusive, afraid and uncertain. But it is brave enough to admit all these things, and to display them on a stage where we all can recognize those parts of ourselves, which we try so hard to keep hidden.
There is no hero or villain here. We are them and they are us. We all have our different ideas of what life and love mean, of what is necessary to achieve “happiness”. At one time or another, we all had to lie in the dark and face the fury of our conscience. We make choices in life, and for better or worse, we turn around one day to discover that our lives may be defined by these choices. There is no right or wrong, there is simply decision and consequence. We justify, we rationalize, and, sometimes, we even believe ourselves. It the end it is we who must live and abide by those choices we make, which is perhaps the greatest judgment of all. Or the damnedest.
I hope you enjoy the play.”
B. THE PLAYS IN RUSSIAN
A CRUEL LESSON — drama about social and psychological roots of cruelty, about the invisible line dividing moral actions from immoral ones. A real psychological experiment, which has been carried out in the USA and has received world wide attention, forms the basis of the play. Under a professor’s guidance students torture a woman. All four of the participants of the strange experiments are interwoven by personal relations. Dynamic plot commands the rapt attention of the audience. 2 men ,2 women. Interior .
AN INVITATION TO A MURDER. A classic detective play. 6 members of parliament come for a week-end to a lonely remote villa to discuss a hard political situation. A series of unexpected murders takes place at this secluded home. 6 men and 3 women. Interior.
BABEL. Screenplay. A modern version of the Bible story about the Babel Tower.
HIS CASANOVA LIST. A bride and bridegroom ask a strange elderly unknown man, whom they met accidentally, to be witness of their wedding. This meeting drastically changes the fate of all the personnages of the play. 2 men and 1 woman. Exterior.
IMMODEST DESIRES. A comedy with elements of grotesque. Its personages, mainly women, dream of personal happiness, but find something other than what they expected. Realities of hasty life of business and practical XXI century force them to say goodbye to the ideals of the past.2 men, 5 (3) women (three roles can be played by one actress).
LOVE MEDICINE. The story of this ironical comedy takes place at the time of the Golden Age of Spain, with its duels, serenades etc. In reality it is a very modern play about love. This clever, hilarious, high-spirited comedy is a long-run success in many drama and musical theatres. 7 men, 3 women. Exterior .
NOT TOMORROW, BUT SOON. A grotesque distopic comedy. The protagonist finds himself in unfamiliar and strange surroundings, while seeming equaly strange to the people around. The main question is whether the maddness afflicts the protagonist himself, or the society surrounding him. 9 male roles, 2 female roles. If nessecary the male roles could be played by a smaller number of actors.
NOW OR NEVER (PROCESSION OF GNOMES). An investigation of modern marriage in the form of a brilliant comedy, bitter and very funny. The critics appreciated the «keen sense and wit of this hilarious, but clever and warning play», its «well-made construction and sparkling dialogue». The story. A man (about 30) and his wife invite their friend and girl friend to a party. The four are interconnected with complicated love relationships and each of them wants to sort out his future: tonight or never. 2 men and 2 women. Interior .
SEVERAL HOURS IN THE LIFE OF A MAN AND A WOMAN.- a sad and funny comedy. This warm and rich play, full of compassion and understanding of the human heart, was presented with great success at the prestigious Alexander Theatre in St. Petersburg — the biggest and oldest theatre of Russia. Reviewers noted that the «play offers an excellent material for actors». The story. A circus athlete, who is renting a room in a woman’s house, falls in love with her. Tired of his migratory life he wants to marry the woman, leave the circus forever and begin a new life, peaceful and happy, in a house of his own. The woman is also tired of her loneliness. Their happiness is almost at hands, but… 1 man, 1 woman .Interior .
SHOW-BOOTH. A modern play in the style of Commedia del arte, based on improvisation of actors and their direct contact with the audience. 2 men and 1 woman . Interior .
SILENT NIAGARA. A Tragicomedy. A man on the brink of breakdown, frustrated by his work, family and life, tries to find some peace and solace in the quiet nature. However, that very path leads him to various tragicomic adventures. 3 male roles, 4 female roles, crowd.
SOMEONE MUST LEAVE. A sharp satire, written in a grotesque, almost absurd manner. Quick, witty, unexpected dialogue in a «staccato» style adds a particular charm to the comedy. The story. 7 employees work at an office and all of them — except one talented shy young man — are doing nothing. But — sudden news! — one of the staff is to be discharged. After a desperate struggle and complicated intrigues it is discovered that the only man who really does his work has to be let go. 4 men, 3 women in an interior setting.
SONG OF SONGS. — A play based on the Bible story about the king Salomo. 7 men and 2 women.
THAT WEAK GENTLE GENDER. — set of two very funny short plays. These well-constructed, fast-moving farces, reminding us of the times of Rabelais and Le Sage, are staged with success by many drama and musical theatres. The story. 1. A small Night Serenade. The wife of an old doctor falls in love with a young boy. She finds a way to deceive her strict husband. 2. The Silent Wife. A man invites a doctor for his young, good but dumb wife. The man wants her to be cured. In vain the doctor tries to dissuade the husband. The man insists. The physician restores the wife’s speech. She begins talking non-stop until the husband goes mad. He asks the doctor to make his wife dumb again, but there are no ways to make her silent. 2 men, 3 women. Interior.
THE BEILIS CASE. A theatrical representation of a world-famous criminal trial which took place in 1913. Beilis, a Jew from Kiev, Ukraine, was accused of murdering a Christian boy. Surging anti-Semitic forces in Russia aimed at condemning Beilis in order to provoke huge Jewish pogroms. The Beilis case attracted world wide attention. The best lawyers of the time took part in the proceedings. The play is very timely today, while national problems are severe. 19 men and 6 women . If necessary the play can be played by 12 actors.
THE BRIDE’S ROOM. — dramatic comedy. Only women (aged from 15 to 70) act. in this unusual play. The bride, her mother, sister, and girl-friends, as well as other women — relatives of the bridegroom — are gathering in the «bride’s room» of a palace for marriage registration (as it is customary in the Russia). But nobody knows where bridegroom is. Pending his arrival, the events of this play develop. There have been hundreds of performances of the play in Russian theatres. 16 characters of this comedy can be played, if necessary, by 12 actresses.
THE GATES OF HEAVEN. Several men and women are fighting to the death one with another… for what? They do not know! 5 men and 4 women . Exterior.
THE LEGS OF WOMAN #2. Screenplay. A fantasmagory story from the life of contemporary Russia.
THE LOT. — A short play based on an episode from the Jewish history — a tragic culmination of the struggle for the Mazada fortress. 2 men and 1 woman.
THE LOVE TO DISTRACTION. A comedy. A man, suffering from loss of memory, comes to a doctor. The doctor tries to find out symptoms and reasons of the disease, but unsuccessfully: the answers of the patient are so inconsistent that it is impossible to understand anything. Fortunately, the doctor manages to invite the wife of the patient. She answers all questions clearly and confidently, but from her explanations follows that the doctor himself suffers from loss of memory. The situation is even more confused when another woman comes unexpectedly and declares as well, that she is the spouse of the patient. The situation becomes completely absurd. The doctor is almost going mad. This dynamical and ridiculous comedy is developing promptly and vividly, coming to an unexpected end. 3 men, 2 women. Interior.
The Rendezvous On Wednesdays. Satirical play with a farcical plot in the style of French la piece bien faite – «well-made play». The adultery intrigue is combined with a passionate desire of the personages to make their career. The plays won a grand success in the theaters. 3 men, 3 women in an interior setting.
THE SWAN SONG. A synthesis of ironic, almost absurd comedy and melodrama. The main personages of the play are in the age of summing up. 2 men, 10 women in an interior setting.
THE WOMAN WHO DID NOT EXIST. Screenplay. There is a surprising episode in the history of the Papacy which has caused many legends and disputes. It is known that only a man can be elected as the Pope. However a legend asserts that once a woman, having given herself out to be a man, became the Pope and successfully occupied the Holy See during ten years. To be a head of the Christian world was a hard task in those years. However, the ruling of the Papesse was very successful. The history informs us only about the major results of the church and political activity of this exclusive woman. However, we know nothing about papesse’s private life, about her character, about her road to the power. Therefore, the story about her course of life, about her love and sufferings, about her dizzy ascension to the top of the world public pyramid is only a subject of the art fiction based on the realities of that time. The screenplay reflects the main steps of the heroine’s life: youth, the first love, her decision to pretend to be a man, her struggle for the Holy See, her election as the Pope and her activity in this quality, her searches for happiness. The screenplay gives a good material for an actress. She has a rare opportunity to play both the woman and the man in a serious non-standard role.
THEATRICAL COMEDY. An evening performance of a classical play of ХVШ age has already began, but the performer of one of the main roles has not yet come. He is urgently replaced by another actor, who doesn’t know the role. It results with numerous tragicomic situations. The plot is complicated with personal conflicts Love, hate, envy, jealousy and flirt of the actors give an additional colour to the comical plot. 3 men and 1 woman.
THREE-CORNERED ROLLS. — a purimspiel. 4 men and 1 woman.