“Until recently, cinema was not allowed into our theater, but now that’s changed,” says stage/costume designer Paulina Adamova, referring to a new production at the Malenky Theater (Russian for “little”), arguably one of this country’s best fringe companies. Starting from April 11th, Malenky will present Orpheus in Metro, a stage version of Julio Cortazar’s short story “Manuscript Found in a Pocket,” in the framework of the annual Teatronetto one-man-show festival.
Adamova immigrated in Israel in 2001 from her native Moscow, where she graduated from one of the best local applied art high schools; she immediately delved into Israeli artistic life. She is in demand in both of her specializations: stage and book design. She worked for the Cameri, Hasimta and Tzavta theaters, to name a few, and she participated in many projects for the award-winning Malenky – a true amalgam of immigrants and veteran Israelis.
Adamova’s sets and costumes have never been just historic and illustrative; in her vision, the designer’s job is not to simplify the things, but rather to make them integral and as such more profound, more beautiful. “And the beauty is easily comprehended,” she adds.
Yet until now, she has never worked with such media as cinema or video.
Adamova explains: “I love theater and I am far from fond of cinema. Everything is conditional in theater, but as soon as emotions and thoughts are true, the audience forgets about it and you can speak about most important things. But cinema, which more often than not pretends to imitate real life, is in my eyes just a lie and an empty illusion.”
Yet this time it was totally different.
Cortazar’s highly metaphoric four-page piece is the story of a man who tries to find love in the Paris Metro. The subway, with its endless crowds and human streams, is the epitome of solitude and alienation, which the character hopes to break down, inventing a special game of chance. If the glances of the hero and the girl sitting in front of him cross, this is a sign that this is the girl for him.
Orpheus in Metro, in its turn, is a complicated theater production with a casually clad actor telling the character’s life story from the empty stage with a sequence of video images projected on the wall behind him. A Rubik’s Cube serves as a symbol of chance and of destiny, as does the colored chalk with which the hero hectically draws the map of the Paris subway on the floor; they complete the set.
“STAGE DIRECTOR Igor Berezin, together with documentarian Ido Har and actor Oren Yadgar, spent four days in Paris Metro shooting the footage,” says Adamova, who together with film editor Katia Shepeliavaya compressed it into a few expressive fragments.
“The important thing is that the movie is not an illustrative background here, but rather the actor’s full partner, which is as active and as emotional as the man onstage. It tells the story, it complements the acting, it anticipates and sometimes argues with what the character says,” explains Adamova, adding that fitting one to another was hard and long trial-and-error work.
“We cater to a modern spectator, with his video-clip mentality and ability to grasp several messages simultaneously and their fast-changing sequences.”
Adamova also designed the character’s costume and the entire space in which the story evolves.
The overall concept of the stage adaptation of Cortazar’s story in which the Metro is also an obvious metaphor for the underground world “brings us to the myth of Orpheus, who descends to hell in search of his beloved,” explains Berezin. “Out of lack of faith, Orpheus turns back and loses his Eurydice. And so does Cortazar’s character, who does not believe that he has already found the woman of his dreams. Being carried away by his own game, he challenges destiny and as a result loses his Marie-Claude.”
As usual at Malenky, probably due to Berezin’s special gift of attracting talented people, the new production is a result of mutual efforts by a mixed team. Roee Chen has adapted the text for stage, the lighting was designed by Michael Tcherniavsky and Inna Malkin, the soundtrack was composed by Evgeny Levitas, Dima Svetoff was responsible for the multimedia and Yirad Matzliah for the stage movement.
MAXIM REIDER , THE JERUSALEM POST