“Tick-tokers have an idol – an absolutely amazing creature”

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External softness is just an appearance, but in the work of the artistic director of the Praktika Theater Marina Brusnikina is tough and meticulously demanding. On the day of her anniversary, the actress admitted in an interview with Izvestia that the older she gets, the more she loves her age, and can only use foul language on rare occasions.

– Marina Stanislavovna, on the small stage of the Moscow Art Theater. Chekhov will host your anniversary evening …

– I don’t know anything about this at all. This is something unrealistic, because all the details and details of the evening are kept completely secret from me. They won’t even let me into the theater until six o’clock, because they are preparing a surprise there.

The theater took upon itself the entire organization of the holiday, for which I am infinitely grateful to him. I’m such a person – it’s easier for me to leave somewhere and not celebrate anything at all. But the Moscow Art Theater said: “No, you have no right. On February 9th you will be at the theater, and nothing else concerns you. ” (laughs)

– Do you blow out the candles on the cake on your birthday?

– Never … I don’t even remember when this was the last time. Only in early childhood, I guess.

– Why?

– I do not even know. You asked me this question, and I was so surprised that such a thing is possible.

– I remember how in Soviet times life was measured in five-year terms. What global changes that have occurred to you over the past five years, can you note?

– Global changes are primarily related to my personal life – I was left alone (Marina Brusnikina’s husband, director Dmitry Brusnikin, died in 2019, – Izvestia)… As for creativity, the change in the fact that now I am responsible for the Praktika Theater – I became its artistic director. This new place and new business in my life complemented everything that I had before: the Moscow Art Theater, the Studio School, performances in other theaters …

– And if we talk not about specific events, but about your attitude?

– It changes because of events, so it is very difficult to separate one from the other. Of course, I began to perceive many things differently.

– Has the perception changed also due to the pandemic? What lessons have you learned from the situation life has put us in? When it is impossible to plan anything, when you have to live exclusively for today?

– This is a completely unique experience, it brought us a lot. You have already mentioned the first lesson – we realized that we must learn to live without planning anything, that there are situations when nothing depends on you and on your plans. This is the ability to obey circumstances and exist in them, but still exist in some vector that is set by you.

In general, the feeling that you are not in charge is very important. We have not yet fully realized the experience that happened to us. Perhaps the most interesting thing about him for me is that we now know that this is possible at all. One problem will end, and quite calmly tomorrow another may begin, and again you will have to cope with it somehow. In this sense, this experience is not only unique, but also positive. What else to say about this time? It’s actually interesting. It is rare for anyone to have such events.

– You once said that you don’t belong to any of the recognized generations, because you think that a generation is a kind of community of people who are not related by age. How do you feel about the generation of tick-tokers, which many consider stupid and superficial?

– Well, you, I love them all so much, including Tiktokers. These are amazing people with a philosophy of life! It’s just something unreal! I treat young people with great enthusiasm, I do not consider them superficial for a moment. Of course, again, in different generations there are different people, including in this one … But I come across exceptionally smart, bright, energetic, talented.

The tick-tokers have an idol – Danya Milokhin. Well, this is an absolutely amazing creature. I have great respect for what he does with himself and with his life. All this is very curious to me.

– I noticed that you do not say anything at all that could humiliate, dull and belittle modern youth …

– And I will not do it. Youth is my environment, my people who always surround me. I do not consider myself an elder, I do not see this age difference. Well, maybe I only feel it sometimes, but only because I understand that many of them no longer know what I have done in my life.

My anniversary scared me very much with just one moment. When the people around me begin to count and understand how old I am, they suddenly move away from me very much, start to be afraid, because it never even occurred to anyone that I was that old. The fact that such a distance arises does not suit me at all, because I do not feel these years. But it’s impossible to feel them, because it’s not about numbers at all.

– If you try to formulate a definition of old age, what would you attribute there?

– Why should we talk about old age now? It seems to me that my age is not old age at all. So why would I define it?

– You just are friends with young people, you understand them, you absolutely do not feel your age. What has to happen for you to think: “Well, old age has come”?

– While it is difficult for me to even imagine. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I hope this will not happen, because everything is really so short … I just want to have time to live all the events to the maximum.

– Apparently, it’s also a matter of attitude? In contrast to you, I think of those young guys who are often called “young old men.” In some of their 20-30 years, they have already become disillusioned with everything, they are not interested in anything, life has become disgusted.

– Yes, probably. It seems to me that age, in principle, is such a strange concept. Very strange. I don’t understand anything about him, I don’t understand yet what will happen next. We will see.

I caught myself thinking that the older I get, the more and more I like this particular age. And I am absolutely not dissembling. Everything about him suits me. Maybe only besides health – I would like it to last for a long time. By the way, perhaps the only thing that can somehow determine age is health. Otherwise, I have a wonderful age, very harmonious for me.

– Do you divide your life into professional activity and life as such?

– I have a wonderful family, but, of course, work is what consumes all my time. I donate little to my family. We can say that work is my life.

– You seem to me to be a very gentle person, which is at odds with your director’s profession, which requires a certain rigidity and rigor.

– My softness is only an appearance. I am a very tough person. I think those who know me well understand this. I am also very demanding, in some ways pedantically demanding. I try to act differently depending on the situation, but my gentleness is deceiving. Those who came across me at work know.

– We once talked about swear words on stage and in literature. You said you were calm about her. Can you afford a strong word?

– Of course, just very rarely. Sometimes mate is the most capacious language that can express emotions in a way that no other language can. Even if you try to control yourself, take care of yourself (it is clear that we are all intelligent, well-mannered people), emotions still sometimes go off scale. I swear not often, but sometimes it happens.

– In your interviews you said that it is important for you to change people’s ideas about what theater is. What did you mean?

– I said that there are some traditional ideas about the theater, for which it is now pointless to hold on. Theater is no longer only when we are sitting in the hall in red velvet chairs, there is a curtain on the stage, and the actors are playing in costumes. The theater has changed a lot, acquired many forms, became extremely diverse. Now and so, and so, and so – and all this is theater. He became immersive, documentary, mobile. It is necessary to take all its modern forms, which are developing in all possible directions. It is clear that there was also a theater in Ancient Greece, but now there is no such theater. And we are not crying about this, we are not saying that the theater is dead.

– How do you perceive online theater, which developed during self-isolation?

– I think that this is an absolutely wonderful experience of our time. There is a very good point here: we need to understand that we already have the ability to capture something and translate it into some other format. When we couldn’t see something live, we could watch a lot of interesting things online.

What is happening in online theater is also one of its forms, which will develop. This is the creation of new theatrical products. It is not necessary to replace everything with everyone – they say, no, this is the only way, but the live theater will be killed, there will be no live theater. What for? It will be so, and so, and so. If other circumstances develop in our life, another form of theater will arise. Theater is such a thing that you cannot forbid it to arise in one form or another. And that’s great.

– What are your goals for the near future?

– First of all, there are specific things that need to be done. There is a theater “Praktika” – I would like it to continue to be an important point on the map of theatrical Moscow, interesting to the viewer. I would like to keep this bar, to release premieres that are relevant and in demand. There are plans to expand the theater’s capabilities. Most likely, all the energy will now be directed towards allowing oneself to do more in the “Practice”.

Of course, I would like to continue to exist in the Moscow Art Theater, because this is absolutely my home, this is my family, this is an incredible number of people whom I love, who love me. The projects that are taking place there, I would also very much like to continue. Probably, I would still like to stage as a director … See how many plans I have! I would also very much like to publish Brusnikin’s workshop – now the children are in their second year so that they can be successfully distributed among the theaters. I have many specific cases.

– Can you name the top 3 contemporary works that you would really like to stage on stage?

– While I can name one thing, this is the next premiere in “Practice” – “Unhappy Moscow” by Evgenia Nekrasova. An author who is very interesting to me. I won’t talk about the rest of my ideas yet.

– So as not to be stolen?

– No, it’s just too early.

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Marina Brusnikina graduated from the Moscow Art Theater School in 1982 (course of Oleg Efremov). In 1985 she was admitted to the troupe of the Moscow Art Theater. Since 2009 – Assistant Artistic Director of the Moscow Art Theater. Since October 2018 – artistic director of the Praktika Theater. Teaches at the Moscow Art Theater School. Stages performances in leading Russian theaters. Honored Artist of Russia. State Prize Laureate.

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