“Farewell, Gulsary!”, a play based on the novel by Chingiz Aitmatov “Farewell, Gulsary, or the Pacer’s Run”, has premiered on the stage of the Kazakh State Academic Theater for Children and Youth. The State Republican Academic Korean Theater of Musical Comedy presented a bold work about the fate of a single person in the context of events and human relationships in a controversial history. The theater staff and the full hall of the audience burst into applause when Asanali Ashimov, the People’s Artist of the USSR, laureate of the USSR State Prize, Hero of Labor of Kazakhstan, walked to the first row of the hall, and, without exaggeration, was both the main guest of the theater and the main critic of the performance the evening it premiered. Although, it should be noted that the incredible performance was first of all appreciated by the audience, who gave a standing ovation and did not let the actors leave the stage long after the performance ended.
The director Dina Zhumabayeva, who was specially invited to stage the play, looked into the very essence of human hopes, aspirations, passions. The result is a completely unique dramatic story, filled with lofty dreams of the perfection of the imperfect world of human relations: sure, party careerists who decide the fate of both people and the country interfere; sure, a system in which it is difficult to remain unbroken does not allow one to escape from a difficult life. But after all, in such a life, the rebellion of a single ordinary person is also an action that makes one think, doubt the correctness of life and realize that a person deserves a better life and that others cannot rudely interfere in their fate, depriving them of personal happiness.
What was it all about today? What did the story of “Farewell, Gulsary” tell us, the hero of which is a wayward pacer of extraordinary beauty, who even got his owner to match his temper. The plot of the story, which has already been staged many times on the stages of various theaters across the former CIS, including Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, seems to be simple in its essence, and it would be possible to interpret this story literally. And retelling it is quite simple. Tanabai is a patriot of his country, a communist, who as they say “was always where it was difficult”, where the party sent the best sons of the fatherland, eventually became a victim of the system he served. Tanabai took part in collectivization, fought and believed that very soon life will be better and the people will finally become happier. But the harsh reality remains the reality, and there is no light in the life of a simple working person. Moreover, the more he works and worries about the public good, the more he is punished by the leadership. An important role in the story is given to the image of the pacer Gulsary, who accompanied Tananbai for many years.
The image of Gyulsara is a metaphor for the essence of human life, in which the suppression of the individual is inevitable. In other words, in a society built for the sake of man, a man has no right to personal happiness. Those who live next to him, his wife and his children, also do not receive joy from communicating with him. The system destroys even Tanabai’s tribal pacer Gyulsary, whose purpose, of course, is not to be harnessed to a cart. However, the chairman liked the horse, and he just wanted to ride it himself – he is a boss after all. This is how Tanabai loses his proud horse. The stallion Gyulsary also rebels, endlessly running into the herd from the new owner. As a result, he is emasculated and subsequently returned to the owner already aged and broken. So they grow old together. Gulsary dies on the road, and the helpless Tanabai laments: “Farewell, Gulsary! You were a great horse, Gyulsary. You were my friend, Gyulsary. You take away my best years with you, Gyulsary.”
Actors of the Korean Theater revealed the theme using all of their creative powers. They appeared before the audience half-naked smeared in clay. This gray mass, very unhappy in its hopelessness and despair, and played by Timur Liang, Bekmurat Anarbaev, Marina Zhumasheva, accompanies the action on stage throughout the entire performance, reacting to what is happening in the life of the main characters: Tanabai, whose role was brilliantly played by Boris Yugay, the role of the narrator by Alisher Makhpirov, Umaibabyujan (Natalia Lee), Jaidar (Maya Lee) and Choro (Elena Kim).
”We have given the stage at the mercy of the young forces yet again. And today you will see what came out of it from a brand new perspective.” With these words, the director of the Korean Theater Lyubov Avgustovna Ni, who has always been glad to support new ideas, though sometimes extraordinary and unusual, but always bright, invited guests and spectators to the hall somewhat embarrassed. Half-gray tones of the stage, the simplicity of its scenery, dust under bare feet and half-naked people… Poverty and broken spirit, and in the background: a party meeting, attempts to appeal to conscience, passion, Tanabai’s love relationship and his joy from meeting with the woman he loves, who he views as an image of a faint light shining through the window, which also has no right to exist. It is pathetic and, alas, it is not allowed to shine somewhere in the background when the fact of Tanabai’s family’s deep misery remains true. So to have personal happiness, even a short one in its length, is a shameful thing, for it may cost you not only your place in the party, but sometimes even your life.
The theater proved to be capable of implementing Dina Zhumabayeva’s ideas, who last year successfully staged the epic play “Poem of Love” (Kozy-Korpesh and Bayan-Sulu) based on the play by Gabit Musrepov on the stage of the Korean Theater. So her style is memorable to the viewer, her works are distinguished by a certain straightforwardness, the ability to get to the bottom of the very essence of the human gut. Dina admitted in an interview to our newspaper that a person, with a natural desire to be loved and be happy, is always at the center of her work. This very production was highly appreciated by the famous Kazakh actor Asanali Ashimov.
– An unexpected decision, a fresh look. The production is certainly close to the concept of European theater.
– The performance, I would say, was brought onto the human plane. The only thing that remains is the image of the horse, surrounded by human problems and relationships, – said Oleg Safronovich Lee, Honored Art Worker of the Republic of Kazakhstan. – This made the production interesting for Asanali Ashimov, who also appreciated the work of our actors and said that he was very impressed with such an interpretation. – Bold, modern, in demand among the younger generation.
The unique style of Dina Zhumabayeva is a bit harsh. But this is her signature, her trait of an already established creative personality. She stages all the performances at this level and is not afraid of naturalism. I was also personally struck by the fact that the song “Группа Крови На Рукаве” by Viktor Tsoi, which was performed in Korean twice, sounded so organically in this performance. I asked the team and Dina whose idea it was. They unanimously answer that this song came by itself, which became almost a motto, an epigraph to “Farewell, Gulsary!”. It turned out to be an organic interweaving of the thoughts of authors of different directions, representing different generations and countries. Viktor Tsoi and Chingiz Aitmatov met in this performance for the sake of revealing an overarching theme. They coincided and even fell into the single rhythm of the director. This discovery made the performance surprisingly organic and complete.
– Oleg Safronovich, you are one of the most experienced actors, spectators, and critics. Perhaps the works, like books that you can read all over again over the years, are rethought by directors of new generations and mature theaters?
– Of course they are, when it comes to classical works that are timeless, such as “Farewell, Gulsary!”. I saw this story on the stage of the Kyrgyz theater, there were many different adaptations. The view of Dina Zhumabayeva is fundamentally different. She opened another facet of the story, illuminated it and focused on those details, thanks to which the viewer could think about the meaning of being and time, which is fleeting. The younger generation, I’m sure, accepted such a statement. Gravitating towards the classic transmission of the original, older viewers – mostly not. But time goes on, it does not stand still and it requires a new understanding. -It seems that the red-haired Gulsary has remained on the sidelines, but his image seems to be in the air.
– This is the director’s talent – to leave something in the shadows so that the main thing could be heard …
I really hope that the performance will see the light of day on the stage of the Korean Theater more than once. Moreover, the premiere, although it turned out to be symbolic, was shown at a party. When the reconstruction in the new home is completed (the new address of the Korean Theater: Bogenbaybatyr St, 158), I think that it will see the light of day there, slike a premiere again, as many, I’m sure, will want to watch the unique performance again. And not only to see, but to feel and listen to it.