1 Narodnaya Ulitsa,
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Administrative Director
Mikhail Barsegov
Deputy Director
Alexander Ryazantsev
The St. Petersburg Masterskaya Theatre Repertoire


Mikhail Roshchin. A tragic tale

Mikhail Roshchin's play "Echelon" formally refers to war plays, although in essence it is much deeper and broader. Combining lyrical and epic beginnings, it simultaneously tells the stories of a dozen families, and creates a picture of one of the most terrible epochs in Russian history, and reveals the conflict "man and war" – the conflict in which the personality is formed and preserved in the conditions of catastrophe.
The plot covers a few days of the second half of 1941. The factory is on its way to evacuation. Men – almost all at the front, who is conscripted, who volunteered. In the freight cars – machines, on the empty seats of women and children, in a heap, as they have to. The train takes them away into the unknown. Alien and alien to each other, they are forced to coexist in a tight confined space, painfully adapting to their new temporary existence, every moment, every step, every breath can be their last: the train is bombed.

Director Natalia Lapina raises the play above everyday life. The teplushka becomes a purgatory, in which a man reveals himself to the utmost, exposing his essence. The fates of people torn out of their usual lives and thrown into the abyss of war are sharply and clearly outlined. Starting with small bright characteristic touches, the actors gradually emerge in generalized monumental images. The director is not interested in a plot story, but in a tall tale, a poem, a legend. This war has a female face, as life and death have a female face. The echelon is an echelon of fate itself, a unified world created by the population of the train, merging into a whole, sounding the voice of the nation, the voice of the people.

Author's remarks – lyrical digressions, poeticized descriptions – occupy a special place in Roshchin's play. The director uses a technique that goes back to the structure of ancient Greek tragedy: the chorus, a group character personifying the people, acts on stage alongside the characters. The chorus sets the rhythm, atmosphere and mood of each scene, each character exists in two hypostases, then joining the scene, then returning to the unified chorus of fate.

The floorboard in the black space of the stage becomes either the floor of a teplushka, or a wagon wall – and the viewer can read on it half-erased inscriptions about the permissible number of people and livestock to be transported, or a map on which passengers, having heard the news at the station, mark the movement of troops. A bright spot in the darkness, it is like a raft on which accidentally met people move through the darkness and chaos, and at any moment they, as well as many others, can be swallowed up by the raging elements beyond human control. Their way does not lie in the future – they do not even wonder about tomorrow, but they move through their present, living every minute fully and frantically. The carriage is caught out of the gloom by the flashing streetlights on the road, either as blinding searchlights, or as guiding stars, or as distant beacons, and there is no other light for these people, trying not to get lost in the darkness, to save themselves and those around them, to save not only their bodies.

Premiere – April 16, 2022
Duration – 1 hour and 40 minutes without intermission
For audiences 16 years and older


  • Director – Natalia Lapina
  • Artist – Nikolai Slobodyanik
  • Costume Designer – Stefania Graurogkaite
  • Lighting Designer – Evgeny Ganzburg
  • Musical director – Evgenia Natanova
  • Musical design – Vladimir Bychkovsky
  • Plastics – Maxim Pakhomov
  • Assistant Director – Alexandra Gayevaya