‘WE‘RE GOING TO eat Anna Pavlova!’
Lena Yarovaya. performer with astonishing Russian ‘anti-clown‘ group Derevo and self- styled ‘catcher of ehaos‘. laughs as she dishes up the mix of meringue. raspberries and whipped cream. It seems that the famous ballerina can rest easy. but with Derevo you really never know.
Formed in St. Petersburg in 1988. Derevo (Russian for ‘tree’) are a maelstrom of chaotic clowning. anarchic aesthetics. silence and special effects. volume and violence. Between I982 and 1986. Derevo founder. director and performer Anton Adassinsky was the pupil and colleague of Slava Polunin, whose .S'nmvslmw was last year‘s Fringe hit. Derevo and Polunin are working on a new show together — Rats. which is planned for the Fringe in 1998. Now Derevo are performing Red Zone in the midnight hour every night.
The time suits the darkly stylish show. lts hatchet-sharp tone shifts metronome-like between hilarity and menace. The group are visually stunning. Skinheads in heavy make up. when not semi-nude. wear costumes which are a firebomb in a wizard‘s wardrobe.
Kicking off with a cacophonous clown show of the fall—about-throw—stuff—around- toot-the—trumpet variety. Derevo move through
'Red Zone is an explosion of our emotions, our training, our feelings about life. We do not discuss meanings. The words just fly from your mouth and disappear.’ Anton Adassinsky
beautiful physical sculpture. choreographed violence. tricks with mirrors and lights and incredible acrobatics. Various them ‘s are touched — birth. sexuality. ageing. death — but this is not a show with a message. this is soul.
‘We want to bring an extreme soul feeling to the stage.‘ explains .‘Xdassinsky. ‘The emotional life of the 2()th century is dying. We want to re—connect the performer and audience. connect heart to heart. ‘Red Zone is an explosion ofour emotions. our training. our feelings about life. We do not discuss meanings. The words just fly from your mouth and disappear.’
To achieve their goal. Derevo have a rigorous training schedule that has more in common with the self—mortification rituals of Buddhist monks than any existing acting school. In 1988 Adassinsky gathered 50 St Petersburg performers for a year of intense training based on 2()() physical. mental and emotional exercises of his own invention.
The training concluded with an ‘cxam‘ — a twenty-minute solo performance unaccompa- nied by sound. lights. words or effects. ()f the original St) students. only twelve made it to the end of the year. the others unable to maintain the pace of sixteen—hour working days and a brown rice diet. Out of those twelve. only five made the grade and formed Derevo.
‘I didn't worry about the exam.‘ Lena notes sagely. 'l was so concentrated on the work that I lost my sense of self. The hardest exercise is to come back to reality.
Anton Adassinsky: 'We want to bring an extreme soul feeling to the stage
‘()ur training is not about learning to tap dance or whatever.‘ she sneers. ‘We are trying to create a philosophical base.‘
Adassinsky leaps on this idea of total commitment. ‘()ur work is like rock music in that they are both l()()% expression. It is not enough just to play — the best music comes from the moment when the musician is burning up. So it is with us. Action. havoc.
burn the car. knock down the buildings. You have to be prepared to kill yourself at midnight every night.‘
In a Festival of scams. stunts and hype- stuffed turkeys Derevo are the real deal. (PR)
Red lone (Fringe) Derevo, The Pleasance (Venue 33) Edinburgh, 0131 556 6550, until 27 Aug, 11.30pm, £6.50/£7.50 (£5/£6).
22—28 Aug 1997 m usr 25