The dream of reason gives birth to monsters or Today I wrote nothing

  • Scene: Youth (14+)
  • Duration: 120 min (with break)
  • Premiere: 11.06.2015
  • Age: 14+
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Directed by: Vladimir Milchin
Author: After the works of: Danil Harms, Francisco de Goya, Antonio Buero Vallejo

A letter to the audience.

Of course, the painter Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) and the writer Daniil Kharms (1905-1946) could not meet in space or time. The first was born in pre-Napoleonic Spain, and died in France at a time when Spain was once again ruled by the evil autocrat Fernando VII. The second was born in tsarist Russia and died of starvation in a Leningrad prison hospital when Stalin's steel fist ruled the USSR. And yet, Goya and Harms meet in our play at the Children and Youth Theater. The forerunner of modern painting and the forerunner of the literature of the absurd.

Both long before their time. Even today, Goya's "black paintings" and engravings from several albums pose a challenge and a puzzle to art interpreters, as do Harms' verses, prose, and plays. Both fell out of favor with the almighty rulers and were persecuted by the guardians of ideology, religion, and morals. Both were labeled as tarabi. Some of these labels are still in use today in modern autocracies.

Rulers change, but times do not change when it comes to the hatred with which rulers "gift" those who take their liberty to be unhappy in "the most beautiful of all the worlds."

In addition to the bitterness caused by a bad judiciary, the severity of war and material suffering, there are other mysterious sufferings of a psychic nature that make up human life, as well as a series of Goya engravings of "whims", "accidents" and "nonsense". (...)

In Goya we have one of the ingenious ancestors of modern man. He is at the same time an anthropologist, psychiatrist, psychologist and sociologist and, above all, a great humanist, not an ironic temperament like his friends, very self-confident and convinced that others were the ones who sinned. Gojagi mocks everyone and complains about everything, and those complaints come, perhaps, from the observation of their own weaknesses and exhaustion, writes H. K. Baroha in his study "Witches and Their World".

The paintings and engravings of Francisco Goya created in the "Deaf House", in which he was supposed to take refuge from the autocrat Fernando VII, are not fantastic art, they are a horrible truth that reveals the real hell.

For the scenes from Goya's life we used excerpts from "The Dream of Reason" by Antonio Buero-Vallejo, Lorca's most eminent Spanish playwright. The play The Dream of Reason was written in 1970.

In 1931, Kharms was arrested for inciting anti-Soviet ideas in his children's literature. He served a short sentence in exile in Kursk with Alexander Vedensky, also a member of the OBERIUTs group. His first wife, Ester Rusakova, was sentenced to five years in prison in the Gulag in 1936 and later died in prison. His friend Olejnikov, a member of the Oberjuts, was shot dead in 1937. In 1939, Harms was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was discharged from the military. In August 1941 he was arrested and charged with spreading panic and anti-Soviet propaganda.

Imprisoned in a psychiatric prison hospital in Leningrad during the first and most severe winter of the German blockade, Kharms died of starvation on February 2, 1942, at the age of 36. The same winter, another OBERIUT, the painter Pavel Filonov, died of starvation. Kharms was rehabilitated in 1956, but his songs, prose and plays were not published in Russia until the second half of the 1980s..

Nadezhda Tolokonjikova from the group "Pussy Riot", in her final defense at the trial in 2012: "At the cost of their lives, the poets from the group OBERJUTI irrevocably proved that their fundamental experience of nonsense and illogicality was true. They felt the nerve of their epoch. Thus, art reached the level of history ... The poets from the group OBERJUTI are considered dead, but they are alive. "They are punished, but they do not die.".In her book "My Husband Daniil Kharms", his second wife, Marina Durnovo, writes about the call to join the women's labor squads that dug trenches to defend Leningrad in the summer of 1941. She had serious health problems and knew she could die from hard work. Kharms promised to tell her something that would save her. For days he went to his father's grave in the cemetery outside the city. He kept coming back with nothing and telling her he had to wait. He finally told her that his father had revealed two words to him: a red scarf. Walking in line in front of the recruiting center, she  kept repeating "red scarf" and was released from working duties. But Kharms could not save himself no matter how much power he might have.

One Saturday morning in August 1941, "three strange men" from the NKVD came to their apartment to take him by van. Marina begged them to take her too.

She and Kharms sat in the van in fear. Kharms and Marina were taken to the reception ward of Ljubjanka Prison where two men pushed Kharms out and left Marina alone. She never saw him again. For months she wondered where he was being held. She eventually learned that he was in a prison hospital on the banks of the Neva River and managed to get him food twice. But on the third visit, the bread she had brought for Kharms was returned to her and she was told that he died.

The absurdity and chaos of existence and the apparent absence of God in the general confusion are in themselves evidence of a transcendent God. For a fun God? For a God who might enjoy laughing at our expense, Ian Frazier points out in his essay on Kharms published in the New York Literary Review on May 7, 2015, entitled "Strangely Funny Russian Genius."

At the heart of our play are questions such as the absurdity and chaos of existence,the absence of God from the world in which we suffer, and  the dormant human mind that gives birth to monsters, human beings reduced to small antropoid personages , yet depersonalized in the human flock.

Stage design

Krste Djidrov

Costume design

Marija Papuchevska
Maja Dimovska

Music (score):

Vladimir Milchin

FaLang translation system by Faboba

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