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Season's Summary ¹ 47

Every winter’s end or the early spring Moscow is the venue of an event eagerly awaited by both the theatre professionals and ordinary theatre-goers. The event is stage designers’ display Season’s Summary.

Its very name is a clue to understanding its reference marks and professional orientation the exhibition pursues. It is a demonstration of what Moscow stage designers accomplished in another theatre season.

The display is democratic, lively, and full of energy. The works of well-known Russian scenography grands sit there side by side with debutantes’ work, and different theatres are represented in a widest possible ranges starting from large well-funded companies all the way down to under-financed projects and small theatre groups.

“Every time I watch Season’s Summary I think how good it is that Russia has an annual exhibition where theatre people can have full information about the state of Russia’s scenography.” Lauding the exhibition, Béatrice Picon-Vallin, French theatre historian who often visits Russia and authors a number of publications about Meyerhold, says: “We do not have this sort of an exhibition in France.” She thinks that this display demonstrates the school of the Russian scenography, “which does exist. It feels that younger scenographers took their lessons from your Big Masters. In France we teach general fine arts (painting, graphics and sculpture), but not aimed at application in theatre. We have a theatre acting school in Strasbourg with classes in stage techniques and scenography. But they train just two scenographers once in three years, which is very little…”

Demonstration of the Russian scenography school and featuring the premieres of the last theatre season is but one of the merits of Season’s Summary. One of its other important features is its history and age. The display was conceived way back in 1964 and regardless of all political and economic cataclysms the country faced when neither artists nor theatres appeared to mean anything; it had survived without missing a single season.

“Could the people who founded Season’s Summary (scenographers Vadim Ryndin, Aleksandr Lushin, Boris Knoblok and theatre historian Militza Pozharskay) even think that their brainchild would live such a long and uninterrupted life? – Inna Mirzoyan, chair of the Scenography Department of the RF Theatre Union, wonders after being the display’s curator for the last 20 years. “They hardly did, but Season’s Summary has withstood all the troubles and apparently is now the longest living part of the exhibition. Why? It may be possibly the concept of its regularity. Another reason may be its nature of a working mechanism, even modestly poising itself as “a report display” rather than “a display of accomplishments.”

The display gathers stage designers, arts students, museum workers, theatre technologists and actors. Directors also come here with their own “secret” ideas. The “Summary” may account for quite a few “happy reunions” of a stage designer and a theatre director… Nowhere but here some directors found their “second egos”, and it was not accidental that one of them once referred to as: Season’s Summary as “The Bridal Fair.”

In 2011 it was the display’s 47th year. (It will only take a few years until it celebrates its 50th anniversary, and speculations say the this annual scenography exhibition should be nominated for “The Guinness Book of Records”.

The latest display in Moscow downtown’s New Manage hall focused on the premieres of the 2009-2010 theatre season. The participants were 93 Moscow stage designers putting up more than 200 of their sketches, installations and theatre costumes at the floor space of 600 square meters.

Season’s Summary ¹47 caught the eye with their bright colours. As one of its peculiarities specialists and designers stressed the trend of an active invasion of colour into the Russian scenography. According to Inna Mirzoyan, curator of the display, “previous exhibitions were “drier” done in black-and-white graphics with an occasional delicate colour inroads. This time around the exhibition was totally different, with the prevailing dynamics of the colour.”

The display organizers summed up Season’s Summary ¹47 on a CD. Disk’s English version is planned, and excerpts are available on the RTLB website.

SEASON’S SUMMARY ¹ 47: Selected Works

All images of artworks are published with permission from the Set Design Commission of the Russian Theatre Union, the publisher of the official catalogue of the Season’s Summary.

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