Evgeny Schwartz

Translation from Russian: Vladimir Milchin and Ema Markoska Milchin
Directed by: Vladimir Milchin
Scenography by: Krste C. Djidrov – Djibi
Costume design by: Marija Pupuchevska
Music composer: Marijan Nekjak
Lighting design by: Igor Micevski
Sound design by: Nikolche Terzievski
Video design by: Goce Veselinovski

Stage manager: Dimitar Mihajlovski
Hairdresser: Sasho Martinovski, Dilbera Atanasova
Prompter: Zorka Gjakovska
Video by: Dimitrij Balojani
Photography by: Aleksandar Bunevski

premiere: 20.11.2018

The Dragon: Martin Mirchevski
Lancelot: Ognen Drangovski
Charlemagne, the archivist: Petar Gorko
Elsa, his daughter: Viktorija Stepanovska-Jankulovska
The Mayor: Marjan Gjorgjievski
Heinrich, his son: Nikolche Projchevski
Cat: Julijana Stefanova
Mule: Zdravko Stojmirov
First Weaver: Petar Spirovski
Second Weaver: Aleksandar Stefanovski
Hatter: Marija Stefanovska
Luthier: Filip Mirchevski
Blacksmith: Dimitar Mihajlovski
Elsa’s First Girlfriend: Ilina Chorevska
Elsa’s Second Girlfriend: Anastazia Hristovska
Elsa’s Third Girlfriend: Katerina Anevska-Drangovska
Gardener: Elena Moshe
First Townsman: Aleksandar Dimitrovski
Second Townsman: Borche Gjakovski
First Townswoman: Sonja Oshavkova
Second Townswoman: Valentina Gramosli
Boy: Nikola Stefanov
Peddler: Sonja Mihajlova
Warden: Ivan Jercich

On Evgeny Schwarts and his Dragon

Not in vain were you sent on earth
My tender soul.

Nikolay Akimov first attempted to stage “The Dragon” with the ensemble of the Leningrad Comedy Theatre, but the play was banned only a day after the premiere on 4th August, 1944. 18 years later, the same director staged the same play, but again it was banned only after a month following the premiere. The same year 1962, the play was staged at the Student Theatre MGU, directed by Mark Zakharov, but again the play was banned after 17 performances. Even the Khruschevism was far from being “more democratic” than the Stalinism when “The Dragon” was in question, the most profound of all Schwartz’s stories. The other two are “The Naked King” (1934) and “The Shadow” (1940).

It was 1965 when “The Dragon” crossed the borders of the Soviet Union. Benno Besson, the student of Bertolt Brecht, staged the play and brought the house down in Berlin. The play was performed up till 1981, with total of 580 performances. The French premiere of “The Dragon” was in 1967, directed by Antoie Vitez, another great director from Western Europe. In 1969, the State Opera in Berlin staged the opera “Lancelot” (based on “The Dragon”) by the composer Paul Dessau (another follower and supporter of Brecht!).

Evgeny Schwartz died on 15 January 1958, unfortunately not seeing the success of his fairytale for grown-ups “The Dragon” in his native country and abroad. His memoires were first published in France in 1982, and quite later in Russia, in 1990, titled “I Live Distressfully”.

Why “The Dragon” here and now? For, even in the 21st century, in our country and the world, as well, not the strength of the Dragon, but the inner slavery, the weakness of the citizens and their willingness to put up with the evil, let the Dragon rule. The toughest task that the hero faces, the knight Lancelot, is not the one to kill the monster. Lancelot faces even harder operation: he needs to kill the Dragon in each and every citizen. Is it possible to stay humane after seeing the profound imperfection of people?

Before the end of “The Dragon”, the Gardener utters the Schwartz’s ironic formula: Please be patient, Mr. Lancelot. Build fires – warmth is conducive to growth. Pull the weeds out gently, so as not to hurt healthy roots. If you really think about it, people also, maybe, taking everything into account, after all deserve careful looking after. Schwartz was devoted to this notion. Several years later, when he wrote the script for Grigori Kozintsev’s film “Don Quixote”, again he weaved the same motive “that tough knight’s love for the people”.

Is knighthood possible nowadays? Facing the souls with no hands, souls with no legs, mute souls, deaf souls, snitch souls, damned souls, wimpish souls, devastated souls, traitorous souls, burnt souls and dead souls, the legacy left from yesterday and the day before yesterday, will the knights be forced to turn into Dragons? Is knighthood possible in the world we live in? World, where the Dragonism is the sole ideology to which the souls bow, the souls whose inability is so immense that makes them amenable, poisoned with hatred, to join the crowd that will smash the remnants of humanity and civilization.

It is our responsibility, in the theatre, to forewarn of the fatal consequences of making the Dragonism legit as an inevitable evil. Our allies in that venture are the authors whose works go beyond the limits of their lives. Undoubtedly, one of them is Evgeny Schwartz.

Vladimir Milchin