open rehearsals in unhappiness

Read the interview in in Russian

Sonia, when you learned that you would have this trip to Yasnaya Polyana, what was your reaction?
I became very excited. I knew that sooner or later I would come here.

You finally saw Yasnaya Polyana. Did it seem the way you had imagined it?
When I came to Yasnaya Polyana, all the pictures, words, and stories which had played out in my imagination during these years in which I had become closer to Tolstoy’s world, became a reality. When I saw the house, the estate, the place where Tolstoy wanted to be buried, I felt that I had been inspired by something more than can be put into words.

How did your familiarity with Tolstoy’s art start?
I don’t remember exactly. It was many years ago, in school, I think. We studied War and Peace.

How did the idea of putting on the play “Karenina. An Open Rehearsal of Unhappiness” come about?
Up until then, I had read several works of Lev Nikolaevich, but was not yet familiar with Anna Karenina. About four years ago, after reading the novel, I was consumed with the idea of acting on stage at least an excerpt, and with the passion which Tolstoy’s language arouses.

How much time did the work on this project take?
About a year and a half. All that time, we worked very closely with Emmanuel Trevi, who is the co-author of the dramaturgy of this play. Then we invited Giuseppe Bertolucci to participate in this work. His director’s eye was very important for this production.

What difficulties did you encounter while working on the play?
From the beginning, I was sure that I would include in the play the final part, with Anna’s monologue, her trip to the station and her suicide. The course that she traverses during the last moments of the play is in fact very long, and it was hard to sense the best way of imparting that to the spectator. Emmanuel Trevi and I didn’t even think about doing another theatrical version of the novel. We wanted to get to the root of this story, and to open up what was happening “behind the scenes.”

Does interaction with the audience play a special part in this play?
Yes, the most important role! They are very close, you can even say intimate, relations. For that reason I prefer for “Karenina” small stages and don’t use a microphone during this play.

This isn’t your first time in Russia. In your opinion, what are the essential features of the Russian spectator?
Passion and a generous soul.

What will you especially remember about the festival “Garden of Geniuses?”
This festival gave me the opportunity to live through a unique experience and realize one of my dreams. To speak in the name of Anna Karenina, to live out her fate opposite Tolstoy’s house among the birches that he loved so much, for an attentive and compassionate audience, is very precious to me. This is my personal “green stick” which gives me happiness!

Marina Minakova - Yasnaya Polyana, 7 July 2013