05/06/2013, by CLAS

Klop: a new student production in Russian

It has been many months in the making, but the countdown is finally being marked in days. Back at the beginning of term, a small group of postgraduates in Russian and Slavonic Studies, led by Jesse Gardiner and Laura Todd, met with a group of undergraduate Russian students in the hope of recruiting them for what would become the department’s second theatrical production of recent times.

The chosen play was Maiakovskii’s Klop (The Bedbug), which was selected by Jesse because of his research interests in Russian theatre during the thaw. He had been researching one particular 1950s staging of Klop at Moscow’s Satire Theatre, which represented a watershed moment in Soviet theatre because it was the first restaging of the play since Maiakovskii’s death. Jesse and Laura also thought it would be a good production to create with the undergraduate students, as the text forms a part of the first year syllabus. The play could therefore offer a different perspective and a new means of engaging with the text for students who otherwise would not see a staging of the play.

Ever since that first meeting, for the recruited team of 8 undergraduates, 2 MA students, 1 PhD student and the production team of 3 more PhD students, Tuesday evening has been a regular Maiakovskii fixture in our diaries. In recent months there have also been additional weekends of prop making, sourcing, and long evenings of stage and lighting planning.

Klop 2

One particular Saturday saw a group of us lining a room in dustsheets, and setting to work on a number of papier maché projects. If anyone ever claims academics are limited to their field, they should see the wonders we produced. Learning a play in Russian? No problem. A papier maché ham? No problem.

There have, of course, been hurdles along the way. The script isn’t exactly an easy one to take on, and there have been a few embarrassing linguistic errors where all of us have perhaps said something that we didn’t necessarily intend to say. Luckily, our cast includes a few native speakers, who been on hand to coach us through the trickier parts of syntax.

With just days to go, it is all hands on deck. Exams are on, there are assignments to be handed in, and PhDs lurk in the background whilst we pore over the final details. The play will run for three nights, and will be staged in the Trent Building’s Performing Arts Studio. Tickets are £2 NUS/ £3 general admission; doors open at 7 and the play begins at 7.15. We begin on Wednesday 12 June, and hope to see you there.

Posted in Russian and Slavonic Studies