The Censorship of Interpretation

Half-way through its journey, the Dimitria Festival gives the floor to Kostas Filippoglou’s Black Snow – A Dead Man’s Memoir, a ravishing and quixotic interpretation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s unfinished novel of the same name. Seven actors run, walk, fall and lie on the Theatre Aneton’s stage, ripping off the written page a dream-like world for us to muse and enjoy, proving that great comedy does indeed stand the test of time.



Giunti al giro di boa, il Festival Dimitria lascia la parola a Kostas Filippoglou e al suo Neve Nera – Memoriale di un uomo morto, un’interpretazione affascinante e visionaria dell’omonimo romanzo mai terminato di Mikhail Bulgakov. Sette attori corrono, camminano, cadono e rimangono al suolo del teatro Aneton, strappando dalla pagina scritta un mondo onirico e mettendocelo davanti agli occhi per riflettere e sorridere, dimostrando così che le grandi commedie resistono alle ingiurie del tempo.




Στο ήμισυ της διαδρομής του, το Φεστιβάλ Δημητρίων δίνει το λόγο στο Μαύρο Χιόνι Το Ημερολόγιο ενός Μακαρίτη του Κώστα Φιλίππογλου, μια εκπληκτική και δονκιχωτική ερμηνεία του ημιτελούς μυθιστορήματος του Μιχαήλ Μπουλγκάκοφ. Επτά ηθοποιοί τρέχουν, περπατούν, πέφτουν και κείτονται στη σκηνή του Θεάτρου Άνετον, αφαιρώντας από τη γραπτή σελίδα έναν ονειρικό κόσμο για να το συλλογιζόμαστε και να το απολαύσουμε κι αποδεικνύοντας ότι οι μεγάλες κωμωδίες πραγματικά αντέχουν στο χρόνο.




Written in the 30s and published only in 1967, Black Snow – A Dead Man’s Memoir is a roman-à-clef/autobiography/theatre play by Kyiv-born and Moscow-bred Mikhail Bulgakov, a now-famous then-miserable Russian (as in Russian Empire) writer who as most Russian novelists of the previous Century, was more modern than it had any right to. Indeed, most of his satirical works were harshly criticized by the revolutionary politburo of the time –despite being protected by the great leader himself– leading to his raging frustration and his overt fury with regimes and censorship.

Incapable, or unwilling, to soften his bladed tongue, Bulgakov kept on writing uncomplimentary novels and plays about Moscow’s literary and cultural who’s who, treading on as many toes as he possibly could all the while escaping State and self-appointed censors’ crossing-outs. As brilliantly depicted in this unfinished novel, the Artist had to avoid not only the propaganda-led bullets, but also those inflated by the egos of those «characters from theatre and the letters, grotesquely highlighted in an increasingly suffocating dance around the lonely, desperate figure of the author, who is searching for a way to make a living from his work, while at the same time remaining faithful to his literary vision and himself».

Drawing from physical theatre and cinema, Kostas Filippoglou manages to take up the bones of a book never finished and to breathe new life into it, finally giving it the body it deserves. Thanks to a simple yet smart use of the lights and of the objects on stage, we are catapulted into the life of a wretched journalist who dreams to become a writer, and make a living out of it. Everything around him smells of time and radiates solitude, and as lengthily seen in most Russian novels, he too has to deal with the same middle-class incompetence of Chekhov, where no one seems able to aim a shot and just get it over with.

Through the neurotic and measured movements of Tassos Dimitropoulos (who plays the main character, Sergei Maxudov), splendidly harmonized within a whirling carousel of facts and faces that gaily liven up the scene, relying on the flawless skills of both actors and director, this stage adaptation of Bulgakov’s rant proves to be a true masterpiece of its genre; a play that confidently picks up a text and uses it without leaning on it. A play that takes the written word and uses it to build a living world with it, and not simply surrounding the hard work of the author with frills and shills, hoping to get by on someone else’s sweat.

Ultimately, it would be interesting to take this meta-theatrical piece one step further, perhaps by involving the audience a bit more, thus cutting them in in the vicious circle of the censorship of interpretation. As a matter of fact, any creative process can give shape to whatever is imaginable, but when it comes to communicate it, as Bulgakov himself tries so hard to point out, the receiver changes the message, turning the snow from black to white, and then to rain. As good ol’ despotic Ivan Vasilievich says (Stanislavski’s alter ego in the play): «the play belongs to the theatre now».

The show was played at
Theatre Aneton
Paraskevopoulou 42 – Thessaloniki
Friday 13 October 2017

The 52nd Festival Dimitria presents
Black Snow – A Dead Man’s Memoir
directed by Kostas Filippoglou

adaptation Dimitra Kondylaki and Kostas Filippoglou
set design Olga Bruma
costumes Margarita Dasoula
associate stage designer Michailla Ploplia
stage construction Panagiotis Blanas
lighting design Sakis Birbilis
music Lost Bodies
assistant director Yiota Seremeti
second assistant director Silia Koi
production GoodHeart Productions
cast Eva Angelopoulou, Yiannis Yiannoulis, Tassos Dimitropoulos, Dimitris Droso, Eva Economou Vamvakas, Yiannis Stefopoulos and Kostas Filippoglou


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