What does it take to kill a dragon? British Ukrainian company Gamayun Theatre presents a timely new production of rarely-seen Soviet Russian political satire Dragon for two performances only at London’s Cockpit Theatre on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 December 2019.
A brave knight in shining armour, a few trusty sidekicks, and a little magic? When a young hero begins his quest to kill an evil dragon, he is unexpectedly greeted with hostility by the very people he is trying to liberate. He soon discovers it isn’t enough to slay the dragon he must also destroy its grip on the townspeople’s souls.
Written during the Second World War by celebrated Russian playwright Eugene (Evgeny) Schwartz, this brilliant reimagining of the 1944 political satire is a timely interrogation of our own complicity in tyrannical rule.
Written in a time of great hardship (1942-44), not only due to the Second World War but also the terrifying reality of Soviet oppression, Dragon is surprisingly full of love towards humanity. The story poses tough questions, confronts the worst qualities of people, yet it ends with hope that eventually all dragons inside men will be slain.
First staged in Russia in 1944, Dragon was censored immediately after the first performance. It was revived in 1962 only to be censored again a month into its run. No further performances were allowed until 1988 when it was finally permitted a full run in the then USSR.
British-Ukrainian company Gamayun Theatre have expertly translated and reworked this powerful classic for a modern audience. A stunning combination of Western and Eastern European folklore, traditional music and dance, and contemporary storytelling, this powerful fairy-tale is full of love and hope for humanity.
Dragon is directed and produced by Gamayun Theatre’s Asya Sosis, whose previous credits include Cockroaches (a reinvention of Mikhail Bulgakov’s Flight) and The Crucible. The production, performed by a ten-strong cast, has concept design by Nadezhda Pylypenko, sound design by Olesya Stefanyk, music composition by Vladimir Benenko and choreography by Maria Miasnikova. It’s co-produced by Maria Montague.
About Evgeny Schwartz
Eugene (Evgeny) Schwartz (1896-1958) was a Soviet writer and playwright, known for his unique, fairy-tale style of writing; reimagining of Western folklore plots, including Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen and The Emperor’s New Clothes; and his use of allegory for telling stories relevant to the modern world. His works include 25 stage plays and screenplays for three films. He is best known for his Dragon (which he wrote after being evacuated from Leningrad to Tashkent), and his romantic and philosophical parable play on love The Ordinary Miracle.
About Gamayun Theatre
What does ‘gamayun’ mean? In Slavic folklore, Gamayun is a mythical bird that is said to have a head of a woman. She lives with the Gods and knows everything that was, that is and that will be. Capable of complete transformation into a woman, she descends into the land of humans to impart great wisdom, if they’re willing to listen.
Gamayun likes humans and is always happy to share knowledge, tell a secret and even teach them magic. She is also a wonderful singer: her songs are told to inspire people to do great heroic acts. But although Gamayun means well, her singing can be dangerous, as it is so sweet and wonderful, people can abandon everything and follow her forever.
Inspired by this mythical fortunetelling bird that dwells in the World Tree and brings happiness to humans, Gamayun Theatre aims to create beautiful and powerful theatre pieces, relevant to the world and society today in the spirit of Eastern European theatrical tradition.
Wonderful, inspiring meeting today between our director @asya_sosis and our creative designer Nadia Pylypenko. Nadia is such a talented individual, bringing our project into fruition. #GamayunTheatre #Dragon pic.twitter.com/IiHPiTINgu
— Gamayun Theatre (@gamayuntheatre) September 10, 2019