by Mikhail Shishkin
An adaptation of the famous contemporary Russian writer's novel Letter Book
A simple story as old as the world itself: He and She love each other, but fate has separated them, and so they write letters to each other, transmitting their love through space. A story as complex as the world itself: He's in the barracks of the Russian Army during the Russian-Chinese War, She's in a hammock at the turn of the 21st century, and they write each other letters, transmitting their love through time. Time compresses and space expands, they're near and simultaneously far, they hear each other but their eyes will never meet. They can't live without each other, but it doesn't matter who died when.
Natalia Lapina loves and knows how to stage good prose. She's keen to expand on the pages of a book and breathe new life into literary characters. In Letter Book she brings onstage those who the characters mention in their letters, lets them live and fill the lives of Sasha and Volodya with theirs, unifying all their lives into a single existence, creating a continuous world. The novel's strict framework - the start and end of the 20th century –unravels in the show, taking all of the storylines and themes outside of time.
The novel's female protagonist says at the very beginning of the story that all great novels only pretend to be about love in order to make them more interesting to read, when they are actually about death. Or about eternity. "But the eternity in them isn't real –t's a fragment, a moment, like a fly in amber. It stopped to rest its legs for a minute and it ended up lasting forever." In Letter Book the eternity is real. It's not a moment, but the flow of time full of being.
The production tries to find answers to eternal questions: what is time, what is life, what is death, what is thought, what is logos, what meaning is there in any of it if beside you there isn't that person that you can't breathe without.
Duration – 3 hours with one intermission.
Premiered 28 December 2015.
Recommended for audiences aged 16 and up.
Director and Playwright – Natalia Lapina
Production Designer – Alexander Yakunin
Musical Selection – Vladimir Bychkovsky
Light Designer – Alexander Ryazantsev
Sound Engineer – Maria Belova
Stage Manager – Alyona Parshina