HOME – Major Autumn Season Marks Centenary of Russian Revolution
Manchester’s HOME has announced a major Autumn season A Revolution Betrayed?, inspired by the centenary of the Russian Revolution.
From a short-lived surge of post-revolutionary optimism came tremendous intentions to change the world, an explosion of new aesthetics and a passion for artistic experimentation. A Revolution Betrayed? delves into the history, memory and powerful legacy of the Revolution – from bright new artistic futures, to disillusionment and political disturbance, to the exciting output of artist from the former Soviet region today.
Walter Meierjohann, Artistic Director: Theatre, HOME, commented: “By returning to the great Russian masterpieces of the nineteenth century with Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a newly commissioned adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground, as well as the brilliant early soviet comedy, Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide, we explore how the themes of isolation, protest, the environment and dreams of a better life connect with our world today and end the season with two nights of Protest and Revolution by Manchester’s own Pen:Chant.”
Sarah Perks, Artistic Director: Visual Art, HOME, said: “As the world continues to demonstrate new forms of fascism (at worst) and teetering uncertainty around current politics (at best), the centenary of the world’s first socialist revolution (with its direct relation to Manchester and Salford via Marx and Engels) has become perhaps the most defining yet neglected moment(s) of the 20th century. With a contested relationship to all subsequent global politics, now is the time to think about the pre-history and formation of the Russian Revolution, its influences and origins, the events of 1917 and the civil war, the rise of Stalinism, World Wars, the Cold War, decolonisation of the Soviet Union, the present state of Russia and Putin and perhaps most importantly, debate how the future will play out. The Return of Memory and our new publication Subkultura, plus our entire season of art, film and theatre, provides an innovative way to think about this centenary and formulate responses across artists and audiences together.”
Andy Willis, Reader in Film Studies at the University of Salford and HOME Senior Visiting Curator: Film, added: “Before the orthodoxy of the Stalinist-driven socialist realism took a grip in the 1930s, Soviet film and artistic endeavours more broadly offered a prime example of revolutionary experimentation. Young and youthful practitioners took political ideas and theories and worked them into their creative outputs. For a short while the ‘how’ of revolutionary artistic practice was up for grabs and, as the films in our season show, innovation and revolution came together in bold and ambitious attempts to rethink how film might make meanings.”
Dates for your Diary:
Thu 12 – Sun 15 Oct Curated by Andy Willis, Reader in Film Studies at the University of Salford and HOME Senior Visiting Curator: Film. As part of the A Revolution Betrayed? season, HOME will present a weekend of films from the early days of the Soviet Union when artists and filmmakers envisaged a bright new future to the 1930s and when the ideals of the Bolshevik Revolution were thought by some to have become compromised. The titles selected, from the likes of Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Medvedkin, reflect the optimism of the early days of the post-revolutionary period and the enthusiasm for experimenting and discovering the potential of film as a medium to communicate and encapsulate new ideas. Screenings will also reflect the shift in the 1930s and after toward the state approved style of Socialist Realism, a change that left many practitioners bereft and disillusioned with the direction that art in the Soviet Union was developing. As well as screening a range of archive titles, HOME will also welcome back Paul Robinson’s ever-popular HarmonieBand, who have an international reputation for presenting specially composed scores for silent films, to accompany one of the key films of the post-revolutionary period.
The Return of Memory Sat 21 Oct – Sun 7 Jan. Artists: The Bureau of Melodramatic Research, Declan Clarke & Sarah Perks, Stephen Coates, Phil Collins, Callum Cooper, Gluklya, Irina Korina, Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho, Victoria Lomasko, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, Yevgen Nikiforov, Marta Popivoda, Aza Shadenova, Ruslan Vashkevich Curated by Olya Borissova, Anya Harrison & Sarah Perks
HOME’s new major group exhibition seeks to redress the legacy of the Russian Revolution on its centenary by exploring how contemporary artists are responding to the state of the ‘New East’ today. Rather than a nostalgic look at the past, new commissions and existing works re-activate and repurpose key emblems and stories of this past – from the avant-garde and revolution to the collapse of the Communist system and ideology – addressing key questions around the concept of The Return of Memory. New commissions include a major multi-disciplinary project on St Petersburg’s Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry – one of the world’s largest seed banks – and the future of food security and evolution by Callum Cooper, as well as new work by contemporary artist Irina Korina who exhibited as part of the 57th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia. Ruslan Vashkevich’s video installation Victory Over the Sun, reassesses the politics of the controversial Futuristic opera first organised by Kazimir Malevich and fellow avant-garde artists in 1913, while Declan Clarke & Sarah Perks look at exactly who is betrayed by revolution, a legacy to their previous exhibition (Anguish and Enthusiasm – What do you do with your revolution once you’ve got it? (2013)). Unofficial histories, suppressed memories and strategies of resistance all converge in this new, original group show. The exhibition will see the launch of Russian writer and critic Artemy Troitsky’s SUBKULTURA: Stories of youth and resistance in Russia, 1815-2017, co-published by The New Social (Olya Borissova & Anya Harrison) & HOME, on the opening weekend. It will also include a special film and performance programme.
The Suicide Presented by Manchester School of Theatre Fri 27 Oct – Sat 4 Nov By Nikolai Erdman. Directed by David Shirley
Written in 1928, Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide is considered one of the finest plays to have emerged from the early phase of Communist Russia. When Semyon, a young unemployed man contemplates suicide following his failed attempt to learn how to play the tuba, he suddenly finds himself besieged and exploited by various sympathetic visitors pleading with him to make his own suicide a social gesture on their behalf. Acerbic, Imaginative and very humorous, the play offers a telling critique of the political machinations that characterized the years immediately following the Russian Revolution. Marking the Centenary of the year of the Russian Revolution, this production will feature graduating actors from the Manchester School of Theatre.
Uncle Vanya Presented by HOME Fri 3 – Sat 25 Nov By Anton Chekhov. In a version by Andrew Upton. Directed by Walter Meierjohann
An ageing irritable professor returns to his deceased wife’s country estate with his beautiful young wife, Yelena. The estate has been managed for years by the Professor’s daughter, Sonja and his brother-in-law Uncle Vanya. It is their self-sacrifice and toil which has maintained his extravagant life style in the city. When the politically impassioned local Doctor Astrov is called to the house and meets Yelena, tensions spiral rapidly into a desperate comedy about unrequited love. Chekhov’s characters exist on the brink of a new era; a new order is approaching. One they fear. Written 20 years before the Russian Revolution, what does Chekhov’s much-loved play tell us about the world we live in today? Taking Russia’s past as inspiration in this historic year, Walter Meierjohann‘s production, starring HOME’s Associate artist Katie West as Sonya, Nick Holder as Uncle Vanya, Jason Merrells as Astrov, David Fleeshman as Professor Serebrayakov and Hara Yannas as his wife Yelena, explores the acutely tragic and deeply comic spirit of Chekhov’s late masterpiece with a bold visual design and live music. Uncle Vanya will be designed by Steffi Wurster, who collaborated with Meierjohann on Kafka’s Monkey in 2015, with music composed by Marc Tritschler.
Presented by HOME & Babel Theatre. Commissioned by HOME
Thu 23 – Sat 25 Nov
We all, at times, want to run away. Remove ourselves from society. Where might we run to? Manchester-based Babel Theatre are an award-winning contemporary theatre company creating multidisciplinary, highly-visual theatre which integrates movement, text and music to communicate the grey areas in life where language alone is insufficient. Babel’s newest production invites the audience to experience the world of one of Dostoyevsky’s notorious characters, only really ever known as ‘The Underground Man’. As he drags the audience on an obscure journey through his own analysis of the human psyche in a tantalisingly strange landscape blitzed with stunning images, deliciously obscure text and a penchant for the ridiculous, he and audience members along with him are forced to question their places in today’s society.
Protest & Revolution Presented by Pen:Chant Fri 24 & Sat 25 Nov Pen:Chant, created by Ben Mellor and Rachel Moorhouse, provides a platform for local performing artists of any discipline to showcase their work, regularly bringing to Manchester the best acts they frequently discover on their travels touring theatres, pubs, clubs and festivals nationally and internationally. Toiling down the art mines, Pen:Chant taps the seams of spoken word, comedy, live music, contemporary performance and everything in between, unearthing gems from the region, the UK and around the world. For this protest & revolution special, HOME will present a special line-up of acts whose art is not a mirror, but a hammer.