August 8, 2022

The Gogol Centre theatre, one of many final bastions of inventive freedom in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, shut its doorways Thursday night time with a defiant ultimate present known as “I Do not Take Half In Warfare”.

The emotional play protesting in opposition to the Kremlin’s army intervention in Ukraine marked a dramatic finish of an period for the Russian capital’s ever-shrinking opposition and intelligentsia circles.

Beforehand run by insurgent director Kirill Serebrennikov, who left Russia after criticising Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, the Gogol Centre staged daring performs for a decade, typically testing more and more strict legal guidelines and Moscow’s sharp conservative flip.

Exiled former director Kirill Serebrennikov vowed the theatre’s mission would reside on Photograph: AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

Thursday’s efficiency had a few of the viewers in tears when actors recited poems by Soviet poet and soldier Yuri Levitansky, a Soviet poet and soldier who was born in what’s now Ukraine.

The play’s identify was taken from considered one of Levitansky’s emblematic verses: “I do not participate in battle, it takes half in me.”

Because the present ended, the theatre’s outgoing inventive director, Alexei Agranovich introduced: “The Gogol Centre is closed. Endlessly.”

This week the Moscow authorities introduced a change of management at plenty of the capital’s prime theatres.

The Gogol Centre was one of the last bastions of artistic freedom in Vladimir Putin's Russia The Gogol Centre was one of many final bastions of inventive freedom in Vladimir Putin’s Russia Photograph: AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

They embody the Gogol Centre, which can now perform beneath new administration and its outdated identify — the Nikolai Gogol Drama Theatre.

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Serebrennikov, who remodeled the theatre firm right into a nationwide cultural beacon, accused the authorities of “murdering” the Gogol Centre.

On Thursday, he addressed the viewers by way of video hyperlink from Avignon in southeastern France.

'The Gogol Centre is closed. Forever,' said artistic director Alexei Agranovich ‘The Gogol Centre is closed. Endlessly,’ stated inventive director Alexei Agranovich Photograph: AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

“The Gogol Centre is an thought, the thought of freedom. Freedom is just not lifeless. Freedom lives on so long as we reside,” he stated.

One other distinguished Moscow theatre, the Sovremennik, will even have a change of administration, authorities stated.

These modifications are seen as a part of an rising crackdown on any dissent since President Putin despatched troops into Ukraine.

Earlier than the play, some spectators lay roses in opposition to the theatre’s white partitions.

The Gogol was a symbol of freedom The Gogol was an emblem of freedom Photograph: AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

“They’re closing every little thing, blocking every little thing,” Daria Kozhevnikova, a 36-year-old trainer who got here to see the play, instructed AFP.

She paused, earlier than smiling uneasily: “Quickly we’ll all be shackled collectively by one chain.”

Her voice trembled and he or she appeared on the verge of tears. “It was a spot the place I felt good.”

“The Gogol Centre is a spot of freedom,” stated 39-year-old advertising specialist Aliya Talibova, who additionally got here to see the play.

“Now they’re taking it away from us.”

Actor Ilya Vinogorsky, 22, stated the closure of the theatre in its present iteration was “very painful”.

“This shouldn’t be occurring. Particularly within the twenty first century, after we declare to be a civilised society and state.”

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Serebrennikov was inventive director of the Gogol Centre between 2012 and 2021.

The 52-year-old was caught up in a high-profile fraud case that his supporters say was punishment for difficult the Russian authorities. He was compelled to go away his put up in February 2021.

In his deal with, Serebrennikov vowed that regardless of the closure in Moscow, the theatre’s mission would reside on.

“There was this constructing. There shall be one other,” he stated.

“I hope some day the battle will finish and the attractive Russia of the long run will emerge.”