Island of Slaves

A production by Asya Knyazeva
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The premiere took place on 11 December 2020.

This play by Pierre Marivaux, a French playwright of the 18th century, is part of this writer's anti-utopia dedicated to freedom and the vicissitudes of fate that accompany the search for, and defense of, freedom. Two masters and two of their servants are shipwrecked and find themselves on an island inhabited by the descendants of ancient Athenian slaves who no longer wished to endure violence. The servants are invited to try on the role of masters so as to rid themselves of unnecessary pride. This transformation has unexpected consequences. Marivaux, who, on the one hand, employed the Italian comedy of masks, and on the other, stepped into a new era with its belief in human individuality, wrote a rather poignant and modern play. It does not soften, but sharpens the problems associated with hierarchies within society, and the human attempts to oppose them. The play was staged for the first time in 1725 at the Parisian Comedie Italien, then was included in the repertoire of the Comedie Francaise in 1939, and in the 2000s it was staged at Piccolo di Milano by Giorgio Strehler. This production was brought to Moscow by the Chekhov International Theatre Festival, and it was, for all intents and purposes, a political statement, not merely an old costume drama. Marivaux's play has not been staged in Russia.

This professional debut of young director Anastasia Knyazeva is based on a beautifully written, light, but serious play in which Marivaux raises the question of the essence of human existence in society, and the roles that accompany it. That turns out to be quite relevant in our time.

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