Project and theater performance
'Ne zrya' is a phrase in Russian having two very different meanings: 'not seeing' and 'not in vain'. This is the title of the PRO ARTE’s project, that involves participants with visual disabilities. The PRO ARTE Foundation has been working with people with visual disabilities for 10 years. We have created different projects in partnership with them – exhibitions, concerts and theater performances. The main goal of these projects is to provide our friends with disabilities with new professional skills involving them in different contemporary art projects. In 2017-2018, with the support of the Presidential grant, the PRO ARTE Foundation has arranged a series of workshops focused on acting skills for a team uniting people with visual disabilities and young professional actors, recent graduates of the St Petersburg Theater Academy. Along with the workshops, we organized visits to the Hermitage museum where we discussed Rembrandt’s works. As a result, a theater performance was created, in cooperation with the St Petersburg theater director Boris Pavlovich. This performance is based on the stories told us by our disabled friends about their life experiences, and is investigating a phenomenon of vision. What it really means ‘to see'? Is the one who can see – is seeing everything? Is the one who cannot see does not really see anything? Literature sources and references include Goethe’s Zur Farbenlehre, works by Kandinsky and Wittgenstein, Olga Sedakova’s essay about Rembrandt. The premiere of the play took place on the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theater in St Petersburg in November, 2018. In 2019, this very unusual and philosophical theater piece was performed several times at the Hermitage Theater and on the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theater.