Sarah Clovis Bishop, Associate Professor of Russian, will talk at this Friday’s Faculty Colloquium on Performing the Poet: Elena Shvarts’s “The Visible Side of Life.” Dec. 2nd @ 3 pm. in the Hatfield Room. Treats will be provided.
In 2010, director Boris Pavlovich and actress Yana Savitskaya created and staged The Visible Side of Life, a one-woman show based on the prose and poetry of Elena Shvarts (1948-2010), a central figure in late Soviet and post-Soviet Russian literature. Then based in Kirov, Russia at the “Theater on Spasskaya,” Savitskaya and Pavlovich had been exploring Shvarts’s verse for over a year, delving into her autobiographical prose to understand it more fully. Just as they were ready to approach the poet about their work, they learned of her death. They abandoned their poetic etudes and turned instead to a dramatic work in which they imagined the last hours of the poet’s life. Pavlovich has described it as a “quasi-biography”; an image of “our Elena Shvarts whom we failed to meet.”
The performance has since traveled to St. Petersburg, Shvarts’s home, and is now part of the repertory at the Bolshoi Drama Theater (BDT). Most recently, the show received its American premiere at Princeton, Harvard, and right here at Willamette. I will discuss the performance in its various incarnations, highlighting the many boundaries that it tests–between reality and fantasy; the visible and invisible; prose and poetry; performer and audience.
All are invited to attend this talk. We look forward to seeing you there.
Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators