Miss Julie is the first production on the stage of the Theater of Nations after a long reconstruction of its premises in a magnificent antique red-brick Russian-style building in the heart of Moscow. One of Russia's best actors Yevgeny Mironov has been leading the theater for a few years. With him at the helm, the theater has become one of Moscow's main newsmakers. The historic stage of the Theater of Nations opened with a spectacular production by Thomas Ostermeier with Yevgeny Mironov and the magnificent Chulpan Khamatova. The head of the Berlin Schaubühne, known for his love for updating the classics, commissioned a Russian playwright to make a modern version of Strindberg's play. In Mikhail Durnenkov's adaptation, the scene is laid in the present: she is the daughter of a military man who has grown rich, he is her driver. The emotional landscape of the performance, emphasized by the set with its snow falling endlessly onstage, is coldness and emptiness. That is also the inner landscape of the characters, with the social gap dividing and attracting them to each other by the desire for power and revenge.
Using Strindberg's drama as his point of departure, Ostermeier calls upon the well-to-do in the orchestra to take a good look at themselves, and to realize that a world where dignity is measured by the size of your bank account has no place for human emotion. For all intents and purposes, this is the Theater of Nation' first production to deal with life in today's Russia.
Marina Shimadina, openspace.ru
A new stage version of Miss Julie has been written by an extremely trendy playwright Mikhail Durnenkov, who has moved the action to 21-century Russia. The events unfold in a billionaire's estate near Moscow, where his daughter is celebrating New Year's Eve with the family's servants. There begins her romance with the chauffeur, who is engaged to marry the cook. Explains director Thomas Ostermeier: "There is at present such a social class in Russia as the aristocracy of money. It is a very isolated, enclosed social layer, which possesses great power and great wealth. The question is what remains if people are forced to live in a world where happiness is measured in material values".
What I'm trying to do with classical pieces is a Trojan-horse trick. People see the posters and think – Ah, Miss Julie, a classical play, a famous cast, a chance for a lovely evening out. But when they come to the performance, they realize it's about things related to their own experience. The playwright Mikhail Durnenkov and I had long discussions about my ideas and wishes for the new text. I think he understood me on an intuitive level. The results I got seem absolutely perfect to me.
Thomas Ostermeier in an interview to Time Out magazine