Chow Down

Andrei Stadnikov’s new play explores the relationship between food and political power. The starting point of this surreal staging that straddles the boundary between theater and contemporary art is a macabre episode in recent history when Russia introduced so-called countersanctions on produce from the EU. Using ready-made text fragments, Stadnikov’s play allows the audience to witness a cabinet meeting during which the decision was made to destroy EU produce that had illegally entered the country, a resolution widely perceived as verging on sacrilegious in light of Russia’s long history of famine. Stadnikov then imagines the same at the country's recently deceased leader’s wake, where pathos-laden funeral speeches accompany ritualized gluttony and are interrupted by ghostly lists of banned produce confiscated and destroyed at the border. A musical score based on lamentation—an integral element of mourning in many cultures—accentuates the narrative along with an arrangement of a workers’ funeral march, an excerpt from the famous Symphony of Factory Sirens (1922) by the Russian avant-garde composer Arseny Avraamov. Performed in the evocative location of a Brutalist old factory Stadnikov’s play highlights the ritualistic, quasi-religious side of the politics of food, representing both the glory of the powerful and the desires of the hungry.

Cast and crew
Concept, text, director: Andrei Stadnikov
Concept, stage: Shifra Kazhdan
Concept, music: Dmitry Vlasik
Costumes: Vanya Bowden
Performance: Anton Kukushkin, Gladstone Makhib, Anastasia Pronina, Leonid Samorukov, and Anastasia Velikorodnaya
Production: Evgeniya Petrovskaya, Darya Verner
Light: Anton Astakhov
Script translation from Russian to English: Thomas Campbell

Co-production: Theater Company «Второе действие» (Moscow), Contemporary art festival steirischerherbst (Austria).

To attend the festival, in addition to the theatre ticket, a valid covid health certificate must be presented, i.e., one of three:

a) vaccination passport (the last dose must have been administered according to the time specified by the manufacturer);

b) certificate of recovery from Covid-19 (up to 6 months from recovery);

c) negative test result ( PCR-test 72 hours before or a rapid antigen test 48 hours before).

Read more: The festival does not offer on-site testing and will not offer a refund if a valid health certificate is not presented.

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