They may look like they'd give you a good kicking down a dark alley, but skinhead anti- clowns DEREVO are from Russia with love.

Words: Peter Ross


FEAR OF COMMITMENT IS SUPPOSEDLY THE MARK OF THE 905 MALE. One man proving the women‘s mags wrong is Anton Adassinski. leader of self-styled anti-clowns Derevo. The close-cropped troupe stormed last year‘s Fringe with Red Zone. a kaleidoscope of dance. mime. clowning. acrobatics and inspired lunacy which required a considerable emotional investment by performer and audience alike. Derevo put their very soul into each performance.

‘We are fanatics.‘ admits Adassinski. ‘We believe in this thing till the end. without any doubt. We live outside normal real life. make very hard sacrifices and work for eight or ten hours every day. We get results.‘

The result in this case is Once. which portrays the troubled relationship between a beautiful woman and a sickly old man 300 years ago. It is the five-strong troupe‘s attempt to inject contemporary performance with deep emotion.

‘There is something missing in theatre.‘ says Adassinski. ‘Fairy tale performances are good for both adults and children. but nobody does

this anymore. nobody believes that you can

'We are still create things like Chaplin movies with a fanatics. we happy end. We believe it. so Once is simply . . about love. I'm not ashamed to repeat it or say I've OUtS'de it out loud: it‘s a fairy tale about LOVE.‘

normal real Once upon a time there was a giant called

- communism who ke ta ver ti ht vri on the l'fe'_n?ake hard artists in his kingdgm. Buyt wghenétlfe giant sacrifices BHd grew frail. his grip slackened and the artists work for eight rejoiced and formed wonderful gangs. One gang was called Derevo. 0" ten hours Derevo (Russian for ‘tree’) formed out of every We communism‘s melt water in 1988. Adassinski , had been the pupil and colleague of Slava get results' Polunin. whose Snows/10w was a Fringe hit in Anmn Adassinski 1996. Keen to explore his own ideas. Adassinski gathered 50 like-minded St Petersburgers for a year of intensive training based on 200 exhausting physical. mental and emotional exercises. The gruelling regime of sixteen-hour working days. brown rice diet and occasional rolling around in the Russian snow saw off the less committed students until only five remained.

Now Derevo are recruiting again. Putting down roots in Dresden, they have opened a school with the modest ambition of changing the face of theatre. Pupils are picked from those showing interest at performances. with around 100 people brought into the fold at Edinburgh last year.

For those up to the challenge. Derevo are currently enjoying a burst of creativity. Among many projects. including the development of a joint performance with Slava Polunin. they are making a film based on works by the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.

‘1 want to put the Derevo style on the screen.‘ says Adassinski. ‘I like the movies very much. but I last went was fifteen years ago. I mostly admire people who aren‘t working now, so I decided to do it myself.‘

The film is being made in Italy with Adassinski performing and directing and. surprisingly for such a free-form bunch. there is a script. But. unsurprisingly. they don't use it. The clown prince is having such a great time that he might hang up the red nose and big shoes before too long.

‘This is only my first movie and I'm liking it so much. I'm worried that I‘ll stop theatre and go to make films.’

Catch Derevo while you still can. Make time to see Once and live happily ever after.

Once (Fringe) Derevo, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, Thu 13-Mon 31 Aug (not Tue) 11.15pm, USO/£8.50 (£6.SOI£7.50).

2o rams! 6—13 Aug 1998

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