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Interview: Evgeny Pisarev of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre

Evgeny Pisarev's office is eclectic but organized. Photos from past productions hang on the walls; they reflect his twenty-plus years as a fixture of Moscow's theatre scene. In 2010, when Evgeny was named artistic director of the Pushkin Drama Theatre, he became the youngest person in Moscow to hold that title. At our meeting to discuss the Russian premiere of Shakespeare in Love, he still had a youthful, mischievous glint in his eyes.

Interview: Evgeny Pisarev of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre
Evgeny Pisarev

Louis Train: Why should people be excited about Shakespeare in Love?

Evgeny Pisarev: Ah, how American - straight to the point. Because people need something to support their belief in faith, in love, in creativity, in happy endings. Russians just don't get to see enough nice, beautiful things.

Russians have this strange love for Shakespeare, kind of like how Americans feel about Chekhov. Shakespeare isn't one of ours, but for some reason, we just don't love Chekhov as much as Shakespeare.

LT: I'm glad you mentioned that, because I think you can find more Shakespeare in Moscow than in New York. Why do you think that is?

EV: It's a strange situation, isn't it? Difficult to say. It's a paradox, but that's how it is. Chekhov here is kind of played out. We are so aware of ourselves. But Shakespeare opens the door to something that might be missing.

Plus, he was the greatest playwright. Everything that people wrote after him can be traced back to different Shakespeare plays. It seems to me that in Shakespeare, you can find everything.

LT: So many people love the film Shakespeare in Love. What might surprise them in your production?

EP: Of course, it'll be a bit of a Russian Shakespeare. Even by translating the text into Russian, it becomes more Russian, more heartfelt. For example, for the music, our composer, who's from the Baltic states, wrote some very Russian music to go with Shakespeare's poems.

And also, we've had the chance to play around a bit. When the show was produced in England, of course, it was important to be historically accurate with the costumes and set, and the music was authentic. We, in this sense, are free. We can tell this story any way we want. We can take off the period costumes and play around, we're a bit more modern. Likewise, our actors are saying "I'm not Shakespeare, I'm just playing Shakespeare." I'm not going to ask them to pretend to be English, to adopt any of their national characteristics.

LT: One last, quick question. If someone is 50/50, thinking 'To go or not to go,' what would convince him to buy tickets?

EP: The sensuality, the sexuality, the youth, the sensuality, the sexuality, and the sexuality again. I think sexuality and creativity are one and the same thing. Or there's a relationship between them. Creativity isn't here (gestures to head) - it's here (gestures below his desk).

LT: Perfect. Thank you for your time.

This interview was conducted in English and Russian. It has been edited for clarity and length.

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Louis Train is a writer, editor, and researcher from Toronto, Canada. He has written for Broadwayworld in three countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, and his home country, Canada.

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