A theater performance competition, A New Year Tale at Artek, has crowned the session at the International Children’s Centre. Children presented performances based on famous Christmas stories on the stage of the renovated Suuk-Su Palace concert hall.
The palace has not had a full house for a long time: 600 Crimean students visiting Artek were the first to see the performances. The actors and the audiences alike appreciated the new stage equipped with modern lighting and audio gear, while the new stage machinery has significantly boosted the capability of staging more diverse performances. This allowed the children to put a host of interesting ideas into practice as they were able to set their imagination free.
Groups from all of the Artek youth camps took part in the New Year Tale at Artek contest. Children from Camp Morskoi presented their version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and those from Camp Yantarny staged their interpretation of The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen. Camp Rechnoi treated the audience to The Nutсracker and Camp Lazurny staged Leonid Andreyev’s story The Little Angel. The performance by Artek’s Camp Kiparisny was based on Alexander Ostrovsky’s tale The Snow Maiden, while Camp Khrustalny plunged the audience into the mystical atmosphere of Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka by Nikolai Gogol. Fascinating stories, splendid costumes and excellent acting by children of the same age held the audiences so captivated that nobody seemed to remember that this was a competition and cheered “Bravo!” and loudly applauded the young actors when they were leaving the stage.
The contest was organized by children from Camp Lazurny. They thought up prologue scenes, which were staged by the camp’s drama group. A member of the group, Sergei Biryukov from Voronezh said that this was a piece of good luck for him. “At home, I attend a drama school at Creativity Palace,” he says. “Today, I played as many as four roles in different sketches. Most of all I liked the role of blacksmith Vakula in the prologue to Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka as playing this type of character was absolutely new for me. Organizing the event requires responsibility and in some way is more difficult than acting. It is a valuable experience and it will certainly stand me in good stead.”
The performances were judged by the jury, which included state prize winner Valery Karpov, a theater expert and vocalist with the Crimean Academic Musical Theater. Speaking about the performances, the guest of honor said: “In terms of devotion, children from Artek are second to none. The atmosphere that reigns here was first created by Konstantin Stanislavsky, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and other gurus of Russian theater – an atmosphere of free creative work, which, however, has an important educational function.”
According to Artek’s chief stage director Levon Agasayan, all miniature performances proved to be up to high standards. He said: “The children did extremely well by showing off their creative skills. Camp Kiparisny came up best: we were unanimous in that their approach was the most successful, as far as the dramatic concept of their performance is concerned. I would especially like to mention the good casting in this camp, the well-balanced plot and the expressive culmination, which is likely to be remembered for a long time.”
The jury unanimously awarded the first place to Kiparisny. The runners up were young actors from Yantarny and the Rechnoi drama group finished in third place.
The jury also named the best actors in various categories: David Shestakov from Camp Khrustalny and Artyom Shvedkov from Camp Morskoi were named the best actors for their respective roles as the Devil from Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka and Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Yegor Grinin (Kiparisny) and Arina Shumkina (Rechnoi) were rewarded for the best supporting roles. Victoria Zagritsina (Yantarny), who performed the title role in The Little Match Girl, and Nina Taranenko (Kiparisny), whose talent manifested itself in the part of the Snow Maiden, were named as the best actresses. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard my name,” said Nina, who has been performing in amateur theater productions for two years now. “When I was invited to come on stage and given a certificate I felt overwhelmingly happy. I feel comfortable appearing before an audience and I believe that public performances are what I am really good at. My experience at Artek helped me realize this and made me more confident. Since we worked with professionals throughout the session, I will bring home lots of new ideas for future performances.”