This February, international presenter Cherry Orchard Festival brings Chicago audiences the Windy City premiere of the critically-acclaimed play Brodsky/Baryshnikov, conceived and directed by Alvis Hermanis at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (205 E. Randolph Dr.). The limited Chicago engagement caps a three-city North American tour of the production co-produced by The New Riga Theatre and Baryshnikov Productions. Additional tour stops include Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theatre (Jan. 17-21) and Toronto’s Wintergarden Theatre (Jan. 24-27).
Brodsky / Baryshnikov is a one-man show based on the poems of Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky, performed by legendary dancer/actor Mikhail Baryshnikov. It is an emotional journey deep into the poet’s visceral and complex compositions. Performed in Russian and subtitled in English, Baryshnikov recites a selection of his long-time friend’s poignant and eloquent works and his subtle physicality transports the audience into Hermanis’ reverent imagining of Brodsky’s interior world.The U.K.’s The Stage hails the work as “a deeply felt tribute…poignant,” and What’s on Stage calls it, “a gift from one great artist to another, a debt of love…you can hear a pin drop as the 90-minutes unfolds.”
Brodsky/Baryshnikov premiered at the New Riga Theatre, Riga, Latvia in October, 2015 and had its NorthAmerican premiere at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Jerome Robbins Theater, March 9, 2016. The New York Times said of Baryshnikov’s performance, “He is arguably most entrancing, and most deeply immersed in the language…It’s as if the language is a current of energy activating not just his mind but his entire body; you sense that he feels its presence inside him down to his fingertips.”
Joseph Brodsky was born in Leningrad (now St .Petersburg) in 1940 and immigrated to the United States in 1972. He began writing poetry in the 1950s, but his works were not published in his native country until the 1990s. Five books of his poetry in Russian were published abroad: “Ostanovkav pustyne”(1970; revised1989),” “Konetsprekrasnoiepokhi” (1977), “Chast'rechi” (1977), “Novye stansyk Avguste” (1983), “Uraniia”(1984) and “Peizazhsnavodneniem” (1996). As an émigré he published three books of poetry in English, and his second collection of essays, was published in 1996. His first collection of essays,“Less Than One”(1986), received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986 and three of his essays have appeared in The Best American Essays.
Latvia-born dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov is considered one of the greatest dancers of our time. After commencing a spectacular career with the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, he came to the West in1974, settling in New York City as principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT). In 1979 he joined New York City Ballet, where he worked with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. A year later he was appointed artistic directorof ABT where, for the next decade, he introduced a new generation of dancers and choreographers. From 1990-2002, Baryshnikov was director and dancer of the White Oak Dance Project, a modern dance company he co-founded with choreographer Mark Morris. As an actor he has performed widely on- and off-Broadway, as well as in television and film, receiving a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk Award for Metamorphosis and an Academy Award nomination for The Turning Point.
Conceiving and directing the production, Alvis Hermanis was recently named among the 10 most influential European theater personalities of the last decade by DU Magazine Swiss periodical for arts and culture. He currently works with major European theater companies, including Burgtheater Vienna and Schaubühne Berlin. His many accolades include the Europe Prize New Theatre Realities, the Stanislavsky Award, two Golden Mask Awards(Moscow) and Max Reinhardt Pen (Salzburger Festspiele).
Brodsky/Baryshnikov, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, will run February 2 - 4. Tickets are $45-$150. For tickets or more information visit harristheaterchicago.org or call 312.334.7777.
Legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov in Brodsky/Baryshnikov (photo by Stephanie Berger).
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts