Act­ing roles keep Barysh­nikov on his toes

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODTHEATRE -

NEW YORK: Grow­ing up in Riga, Latvia, lit­tle Misha was in­tro­duced to the world of drama by his mom, Alexan­dra. “When I was five or six, my mother used to drag me around to the the­atre,” the world’s most cel­e­brated liv­ing male bal­let dancer says.

At the Len­ingrad bal­let school at which he trained, “we were forced to read Rus­sian plays: Tur­genev and Go­gol”, he ex­plains. The­atre tick­ets were dis­pensed to the stu­dents, “and I went ev­ery night when I was free”.

If the bal­let was where he made his in­deli­ble mark, the world of plays is where 65-year-old Mikhail Barysh­nikov is in­creas­ingly find­ing an artis­tic home. He was off re­cently to An­twerp and Paris to per­form in The Old Woman, a stage adap­ta­tion of a novella by Rus­sian sur­re­al­ist Daniil Kharms co-star­ring Willem Dafoe.

And now he ar­rives in Wash­ing­ton with Man in a Case, a mixed­me­dia per­for­mance piece.

His act­ing roles on film have some­times been in highly com­mer­cial ven­tures: he was the con­trol­ling ego­ma­niac in Sex and the City.

Barysh­nikov made his stage de­but in 1989 as Gre­gor Samsa in The Meta­mor­pho­sis.

The Broad­way adap­ta­tion di­rected by Steven Berkoff was skew­ered in The New York Times by Frank Rich, who de­scribed Berkoff ’s take on Kafka as “Marx­ist kitsch” and ob­served that Barysh­nikov’s per­for­mance, “how­ever dig­ni­fied, amounts to lit­tle more than a sideshow to the loud cir­cus sur­round­ing him”.

“You gam­ble on­stage,” Barysh­nikov says now, re­flect­ing on that ex­pe­ri­ence. “I have been in suc­cess­ful pro­duc­tions some­times. And I’ve sucked many times, too.”

Th­ese days, he prefers to suc­ceed or fail with col­lab­o­ra­tors, like Wil­son or Par­son, whose own ac­com­plish­ments pro­vide a base­line con­fi­dence in the strength of the project and for him, en­joy­ment in the process of mak­ing it work.

“It’s too late in my life for un­pleas­ant sur­prises,” he says. – Wash­ing­ton Post

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.