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THE BEAR Set for The Proud Archivist Next Month

After the loss of her late husband, 'the best of all men', Helena Popova refuses to leave the house. In constant mourning, among pictures and ghosts, her world will be turned upside-down by the rude intrusion of the uninvited Grigori Smirnov. This unwelcome guest is desperate to receive the money that is owed to him and he is also determined to conquer much more.

Based on the Chekhov play, this 'extravaganza in one act' by William Walton takes place in Popova's drawing room, displaying the wide and wild range of perceptions about men and women, but also between rich and poor. Stereotypes, misunderstandings, challenges, and conventions are dealt in hot blood and boldness. Surprising and surreal moments are caused by the emotional explosions of the high-tempered characters. The haunting past and the uncertain future call for confrontation within the intimate space of a room full of eyes and faces.

Operaview sets the scene in the Proud Archivist Gallery, enveloped by a series of photographic portraits. Director Natalie Katsou, inspired by the "drawing room" and Popova's obsession with dead "Nikolai's photo" that Chekhov notes on the stage directions, develops the opera inside the gallery environment thus the drama is witnessed simultaneously by the exhibited portraits and the live audience. The Chekhovian names and ideas from late 19th century Russia are transposed and brought to life via the Russian people living in London today through a photographic study on characters and society.

This contemporary visual creation by Yiannis Katsaris connects this wonderful 20th century British composition with our actual reality, expanding the levels of interpretation. The two-dimensional faces in the space and ourselves are intruders in Popova's world as much as Smirnov is, and we interfere with their decisions as much as Luka, Popova's faithful servant.

Three singers, one piano, and a series of portraits bring this extravagant seductive comedy to delightful heights in The Proud Archivist Gallery on 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th July at 7.15pm.

The photo exhibition is on display from 6th to 12th July.

The production is kindly supported by St. Anne's Church, Hoxton.

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