Six months have passed since emigrating to Israel. How do you see the change now?
— I see that it was the only right decision. I can't imagine my existence in the Russia that exists now. I did everything right and have no regrets. My parents, brothers and sisters live here, and I had a rear. As for the profession and work, there was, of course, some uncertainty, although I knew that there was a Gesher theater here. I hoped that this theater would be interested in me, which happened.
When I left, I was so shattered by this whole catastrophe that I did not see the point in my profession. I had to just leave, and what happened next - I didn't care. What are the "scene and cinema" against the backdrop of what is happening? But it so happened that the Gesher Theater offered cooperation and now I'm already playing in a play based on Anui's play Orpheus and Eurydice, which we call Don't Look Back , and this name is very suitable for me personally.
In addition, together with director Yegor Trukhin, I made the play “I'm Here”, based on poems by Russian-speaking authors written after February 24th. Since the beginning of the war, all this horror, poets have poured out a huge amount of amazing poetry. If at first it was an open bloody wound - blood and horrors, now it is already an attempt to comprehend and detach, reflection comes. I look on the Internet what Vadim Zhuk, Yuliy Gugolev, Alla Bossart, Tatyana Voltskaya and other authors write that reflect today.
Since the beginning of the war, all this horror, poets have poured out a huge amount of amazing poems
The performance was well received, I did not even expect. For me, it was a civil act - with my own weapon: on stage, with the help of poetry and prose text, which Yegor and I came up with together. It's not about me, but about a lost man, as we called him. It is about all of us and about many people on the planet today who feel a sense of confusion before a catastrophe. We tried to find the answer in this performance.
The performance is going well. Producer Marina Axelrod first suggested doing 4-5 productions in the biggest cities. And today we have requests for 15 performances, and we are expected in several other countries. This is a burning topic, and it's like therapy - people come and see the consonance of their pain, write "in a personal".
Over time, the performance changes a little. One morning I was reading and came across a poem by Lena Berson:
Mom, don't let me go to war.
Remember you didn't let me go to school
She said: enough, don't howl, oh well,
You'll miss a couple of days, but what's wrong?
She covered the lamp with a wiped blanket,
I threw a pinch of soda into the milk.
I loved you, mom, but still betrayed,
And the apartment, of course, sold.
Mom, don't let me fight.
Do you remember, Kuhl and I smashed the glass,
And you came out in the style of well-I-mother,
And she said to Akulnikov: you pissed.
I poured iodine on his cuts,
He roared and hid his hands behind his back.
Kul visited us after, although rarely,
Said you were beautiful. This is true.
Now I remember that there was comfort,
As we sit together in the kitchen, we eat like.
Mom, don't let them find me
Mom, let me become invisible.
We've got songs-marches turned on in the park,
So as not to hear those who started crying.
Mom I don't know what I believe
Because there is no more hope.
I tell Yegor: we need to insert it. And in the evening another performance, how to insert it? Egor came up with the idea that my character finds a letter dropped by someone on the stage ...
- In several interviews, I ask the same question: for example,Evgeny Kisin and Boris Grebenshchikov . Someone inadvertently said that people who watch good performances cannot do anything bad in life, because these are people involved in the "high", and if people go to the theater more, they do less evil. But practice has shown that this is not so - half the seats in Moscow theaters are now filled with a zigzag audience, led by TV presenter Dmitry Kiselev. Has art failed in this war because it has prevented nothing? Or art can change something?
“Today it has become clear again that art cannot prevent a catastrophe. The energy of absolute evil, which gave rise to the war, is very strong, and nothing can be done about it. What can resist this evil? I dont know. Wars periodically happen on the planet, people cannot live without them. There is always something (which cannot be called people) that unleashes wars. Nothing can resist this.
The energy of absolute evil that gave rise to the war is very strong, and nothing can be done about it
- So far, we see that the HIMARS and Patriot systems can be opposed to absolute evil.
But there is something deeper. People who come to a foreign land will never be calm there and will not conquer it in any way. Heels will burn all the time, so it is understandable that it will not hold, but it still happens. I don't have an answer to this.
- How do you assess the position of people who say: “I am engaged in creativity, I do nothing wrong, I keep my theater in St. Petersburg. Politics does not concern me, we have Shakespeare and Chekhov here? You played in the Moscow Art Theater and could "carry the beautiful" from the stage in Moscow.
- No, I could no longer carry anything “beautiful”. I try my best not to judge myself...
- You spoke kind words about the artistic director of the Moscow Art Theater Konstantin Khabensky. I'm not trying to provoke you into judging anyone. But there are such positions: those who sincerely continue to do something good, and those who hide behind this desire, put Shakespeare and Chekhov in the capital of the Fourth Reich.
- Frankly zigging people are crossed out for me, and they do not exist for me in life and in art. At the same time, for 70 years of Soviet power, people somehow lived, played in theaters, and I found this in my youth. When I was 16-17 years old, I could well go to the barricades against that rotten government. At that time, people were in psychiatric hospitals, were expelled from the country or killed in prisons. And at the same time, people lived and played in theaters.
Frankly zigging people are crossed out for me, and they do not exist for me in life and in art.
Now the same thing is happening - a rollback to the totalitarian system in the country, and not everyone has the opportunity to leave. People choose internal emigration - to stay in their places and do something. Maybe it's water that flows and washes, and can at least do something with people. Suddenly, these productions revive doubts, or, on the contrary, do people who know that everything is bad come and draw strength? From Chekhov and Shakespeare. Honest people who went into internal emigration in Russia are greater heroes for me than I am. I could not live in this, I would have gone crazy. But they remained and with their art they are slowly undermining this rotten propaganda machine.
- Now you probably correspond with colleagues. You were at the center of theatrical and cinematic life in Russia and you know the professionals who stayed there. What do people write? Are they talking about New Years?
You will be surprised, but there are very few people left who write to me. And I don't write either. There were several people from the Moscow Art Theater who congratulated me on the New Year, but no one tells me anything about their inner life.
- You nobly defended the artistic director of the Theater of Nations, People's Artist of the Russian Federation Yevgeny Mironov, who went to Mariupol to the site of the bombed-out Drama Theater. What does it look like when a person goes to the site of the destroyed theater in Mariupol?
“It's not like I'm defending him nobly. I asked the question and assumed that there was pressure from the authorities, and Zhenya took this step because of the pressure. I guess so.
- You said that he is a decent person and it is generally surprising that this happens.
- It's a mystery to me. I guess it was pressure, because Mironov defended Kirill Serebrennikov, he was always on the side of people who oppose injustice, and for me this step was stunning. I really want to hope that there was some kind of strong pressure.
— Now delicate questions about you. In the early 2000s, you thought that the country was developing, films were being made, performances were being staged - everything is fine! But gradually you began to somehow differently assess the situation. The second point is more acute - in 2014 you almost fell for the bait of "Krymnash" and you were stopped by "senior comrades".
- Yes everything is correct. Politically, in the 2000s, I was an infantile person and did not look at the essence. I was 30 years old, art was developing in the country - there were open borders, festivals, the guys left for America and returned with skills. Everyone knew that this was a big surge in development - and Zvyagintsev appeared, and Serebrennikov. Everything was wonderful. Who came to power, we did not fully realize.
In the 2000s, there were open borders, festivals, the guys went to America and returned with skills
- Didn't Surkov bother you?
- Confused. It was a flirtation with power. Then I was an actor who got into the hands of sharp material. We did the performance “Near Zero” on the small stage of the Moscow Art Theater directed by Kirill Serebrennikov - about the formation of statehood on blood. We opened some secrets with this material.
- At the same time, he justified the formation of Putinism as an opposition to the "Yeltsin 90s" ...
- No, because the performance ended with the decomposition of the protagonist and his soul. And we talked about the fact that a person who embarks on the path of murder, even with good intentions, is moving nowhere. The character at the end of the performance decomposed and died.
- After that, Surkov himself oversaw the occupation of Donbass.
- I was apolitical, and I didn’t really understand everything that was happening. There were smart people who in 1999, when this man came to power, simply packed their bags and left. And I was perplexed because of this - "still not so bad." And over time, my eyes opened. While playing Near Zero, I didn't think about Surkov. Yes, I understood that he occupies a high position and that he moves and directs something, but this performance of ours was strong before that. Kirill suffered in part because of his involvement with Surkov. This is such a conspiracy theory that we do not need to develop and do not want to.
- What does it mean: you “almost got caught in Crimeanash”?
Yes, at some point, due to my political blindness, I almost got caught. In the same place, people voted “yes”, there are many Russians there, and they want to become part of Russia. For me it was a possible fact - a lot of people who voted to become part of Russia. Foreign military bases could be located in Crimea, and this is bad for Russia. Ksenia Larina was the first to hit me on the head with a hammer. We met and she said: “Tol, are you completely, or what, a fool? You don't understand what's going on at all?"
At some point, due to my political blindness, I almost fell for Krymnash
In my environment there were a lot of people who thought the same as me, and today these creative people are on the other side of the barricades, and they are now justifying this war.
- Then Putin succeeded in such a “bloodless entry”, but now everyone can already see how cities are being wiped off the face of the earth, where there could not even be any “referendums”.
“Now it is difficult to bring people back, because propaganda works powerfully, and this is such a weapon that greatly changes the chemical composition of the brain. It is impossible to bring people back from there. It is impossible to tell a person that something is wrong. I delete such people.
- It is interesting that such blocks as Alexander Georgievich Filippenko or Veniamin Borisovich Smekhov have not taken anything for many decades.
- Yes, they developed immunity even under Soviet rule. Propaganda is a terrible weapon that brainwashes, and a person is sure that everything is going right.
- Is it possible to imagine any circumstances, even theoretically, what should happen in order for you to want to return to Russia?
- If we talk about fantasies and dreams abstracted from reality, then, of course, the only reason for me to return to Russia would be a complete change of power and some kind of mentality. I could return to Russia if it became democratic. I understand that there is no perfect state system anywhere, and a person has not yet invented anything but money. In all countries, to a greater or lesser extent, everything moves around this, but even in Israel there are democratic foundations and freedom of expression. If such powerful democratic institutions appear in Russia, if it is possible to speak freely, if power is directed towards the people and not towards oneself, I would probably return. But this is from the realm of fantasy.
Is the defeat of Russia in the war a fantasy?
- This is reality. Russia has already lost this war spiritually, and not at the level of the seizure of territories, although this has already been partially lost. Unfortunately, I do not know how this war will end. I understand that cynically the world is ruled by some things that are not related to the freedom of peoples, but I think that there will be some kind of compromise. I would like the war to end with the complete expulsion of Russian troops from Ukraine. Spiritually, the war is already lost. After the war, Russia will not fall apart, but the screws will begin to tighten, the country may close itself off from the world even more and internal repressions will begin. The energy of power will spread inward.