Art is a Cupboard: An OBERIU Docudrama

Written by:

Melissa Major

Cast Size:
20

Roles For:

  • Men: 6
  • Women: 2

Genre:

Comedy
Documentary
Drama
Historical
Tragedy

Themes:

Russia
Soviet Union
Surrealism

Length:

115 min.

Year Written:

2004

Synopsis:

In 1927, as the Red Fist tightens its grip in Soviet Russia, OBERIU, the last group of avant-garde artists is planning its bold, absurdist farewell. But with the world becoming even stranger than their own surreal visions, and their audience literally disappearing around them, is it still worth the risk? A darkly comedic and quirky twist of fact and their own fictions about Daniil Kharms, Aleksandr Vvedensky, Nikolay Zabolotsky , Konstantin Vaginov and Igor Bakhterev.

Characters:

CHORUS – Various ages and genders. They Provide various intermittent musical entertainment and interruption. Chorus members can also appear as other characters. When they are not providing musical entertainment, they are very suspicious of each other. / INTRODUKTOR – A male or female, old or young, darkly charismatic omniscient broadcaster who documents the revolution. At first s/he is devoid of emotional characteristics, but becomes more and more expressive and human as the revolution trudges on. / Daniil Ivanovich KHARMS – Male, mid to late 20s. A pipe smoker and juggler. Good at billiards. Enjoys being naked at home. A compulsive list maker. He is an extremely eccentric dresser. He alone can hear and see INTRODUKTOR. / Aleksandr Ivanovich VVEDENSKY – Male, mid to late 20s. Has a handsome, slightly pockmarked face. Wears well-made, well-ironed suits. Unlike KHARMS, he makes no attempt to distinguish himself or astonish the public with his clothing. / ANDREY SEMYONOVICH – Male, 20s to 60s. A fictitious figment of the creative or drunken imagination. / Nikolay ZABOLOTSKY – Male, appears to be early twenties. A blonde, clean-shaven baby- face. Usually wears his army greatcoat. He does not enjoy the high-jinks of the other OBERIU members, which causes some friction between him and the rest of the group. He is a bit of a loner, and has always been this way. / Igor BAKHTEREV – Male, early 30s. A film and theatre director. Good sense of humour. A clever thinker. Well-respected, fair and creative. Has enjoyed a successful career thus far. / Konstantin VAGINOV – Male, early 30s. A professional writer who has been published since he was quite young. He is humble yet confident. A rhythmic writer who remains serious about his work. Alternates between seriousness and a crass sense of humour. / MARINA Vladimirovna Malich – Female, mid to late 20s. KHARMS’ second wife. A lovely and charming woman. / STAGEHANDS – Any age or gender / BALLERINA – Any age or gender / DOKTOR – Any age or gender / KILLER – Male, any age / VIKTIM – Any age or gender / COP 1 / MAN IN BLACK COAT
COP 2 / STALIN – A large abstract representation – i.e. a paper maché figure or large painting with moving lips

First Produced:

Factory Theatre, Toronto, 2007.

Resources:

Art is a Cupboard is available through the Canadian Play Outlet.

To view other works by this playwright, click here.

Notes:

York University’s President’s Prize for Playwriting, Finalist for Hidden River Arts Playwriting Award, Semi-Finalist for Reverie Productions Next Generation Playwriting Award

NOTE: The play is further enriched by a large cast and chorus, however by using a small chorus of three performers who double up with other roles, it is possible to cast the show with 10 actors. A sample of this casting is by using the following breakdown:
1. INTRODUKTOR
2. KHARMS
3. VVEDENSKY
4. BAKHTEREV
5. ZABOLOTSKY / COP 1
6. VAGINOV / COP 2
7. MARINA / BALLERINA
8. CHORUS / KILLER / DOKTOR
9. CHORUS / STAGEHAND / VIKTIM
10. CHORUS / ANDREY SEMYONOVICH

Gallery: