The Eighth International Platonov Arts Festival started in Voronezh on Wednesday, June 6. The festival opened with “100% Voronezh” performance created by European theater company Rimini Protokoll together with the festival directorate especially for the opening of the forum.

Before the performance, Alexander Gusev, Acting Governor of the Voronezh Region, addressed the audience gathered in the hall of the Opera and Ballet Theater. The head of the region noted that for the eight years of its existence Platonovfest had become the face of the region.

- The festival is loved by guests and residents of Voronezh. This is proved by the figures: in 2017, more than 85 thousand people visited the Platonov Festival events, and, according to the most conservative estimates, more than half a million people –for the entire period of the festival existence. I can assure you that the festival will survive many Voronezh Region Government Cabinets, Alexander Gusev said.

After the opening ceremony, the audience watched the performance “100% Voronezh.” Even before the beginning of the forum, it became known that 102% of the tickets for the premiere were sold – the Voronezh residents were so interested in the production about them. Exactly one hundred townspeople of different age, sex, social status, representatives of different professions, nationalities and faiths came on stage. The creators deliberately selected the participants of the project to show a certain sociological snapshot of the citizens on the stage. As a result, the youngest participant was five years old, and the oldest – 85.

First, the participants of the performance introduced themselves and briefly told about themselves. Then the performance began to develop on “online survey” principle. The participants asked questions and lined up on the stage depending on the answers to them. To demonstrate the stage action concept, the participants first answered simple questions – they divided into groups by sex, city districts, nationality. Then the questions began to concern positions and opinions on various problems. For example, whether it is necessary to return trams to Voronezh; whether there should be direct elections of the city mayor; whether I support a friend of mine if I find out that he or she is of nonstandard sexual orientation.

The creators of the production, directors of Rimini Protokoll Helgard Haug and Stefan Kaegi told that they carried out the project “100% city” in 30 megacities of different countries. Despite the fact that many questions repeat from play to play, the portrait of each city turns out to be unique.

- The residents of Voronezh, who participated in the project, were very focused. For example, when we were doing the project in Australia, nobody listened to us, everyone was talking, chatting, and the Voronezh residents took the matter very seriously. We also got the impression that the Voronezh people are rather reserved. It will take time to stop being embarrassed and to be able to express all their emotions, Helgard Haug said.

After the performance, the participants confessed that during the work on the production they learned a lot about Voronezh residents and about themselves.

- I live in the city center and constantly watch a crowd of people. When I listened to the short stories of the project participants about themselves and their destinies, leaving my house, I began to catch myself on peering at people. I began to understand that there is a story behind every person, whether it is 400 thousand km, covered in search of love, an orange scarf around your neck as a keepsake or something else. I started to be attentive to people, the performance participant, Voronezh local historian, guide Olga Rudeva said.

Some topics that the creators of the play wanted to raise did not pass the inner self-censorship of the participants and were not announced from the stage, since they were deemed inappropriate. For example, the topic of abortion or the attitude to the president of the country. However, many acute questions were raised. For example, have you taken bribes? Have you cheated on your partner? Have you voted? And those who answered the last question “no”, went to the back of the stage, “so that everything was decided without them.”

- Until now, I have never voted in elections. When today I was seated on the back and they started to take decisions without me, I realized for the first time in my life that I was wrong. I am very grateful for this to the creators of the play. I can say that I have become a politically active citizen, Alexander Maslennikov, participant of the performance, a photographer said.

After the premiere, “100% Voronezh” will be shown at the festival two more times, but tickets for the performances have already been sold out.

The context

The Eighth Platonovfest will be held in Voronezh until Sunday, June 17. Its program includes theater, music, literary events, as well as exhibitions, one-day open-air “World Music in Bely Kolodets”, the city’s first concert on the Chernavsky Bridge dam, a large street performance based on Alexander Pushkin’s works and a traditional book fair. More than 20 festival events can be visited free of charge. 

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