GRACE AND GRITPraktika Theatre, Moscow
Director – Ivan Vyrypaev
Author – Ken Wilber
Sound producer – Alexander Chubenko
Lighting designer – Sergei Vasiliev
Costume designer – Rezeda Provkina
Video artist – Vsevolod Taran
Duration – 2 h, 30 min
Age restriction – 16+
Based on a book by Ken Wilber, an American who decided to publish the intimate testimony of his and his wife’s personal struggle with cancer. It lasted for 5 years and ended when the 40-year-old woman died. Treya Killam Wilber had a diary where she kept a thorough record of all the agonizing stages she underwent to fight her painful disease. Complicated changes in her relationship with her husband were another important part of this struggle. They didn’t always stand the test of her illness. But those changes were profoundly essential. Having passed them, Treya managed to treat her inevitable death in a different way, not the way she used to take it at the beginning.
Grace and Grit was an important test for Vyrypaev’s Polish actors, Karolina Gruszka and Cazimir Liske, too. It probably helps to answer the question: how should one live? If it’s impossible to make life better, how can one treat it in a different – the right, the wise – way? The text, sometimes presented in a detached and sometimes in a participant observer’s way, changes the audience in a way too, even in spite of themselves.
The stage sets are very ascetic: the plywood walls and the white floor. The sets actually consist of video projections (stripes of television snow and multicolored flaming auroras). Actors Karolina Grushka and Kazimir Liske are sitting on chairs center stage and a bit hastily reading a text in English: “And then I hit her. Then again. And again. ‘Get out!’ I was yelling, ‘Get out of here!’ I was hitting her again and again and she was screaming: ‘Don’t you dare hit me!’ At last we both collapsed on the sofa. Never in my life had I hit a woman. And we both knew it”. The audience hears simultaneous translation in the earphones. But in fact Ivan Vyrypaev’s production of “Grace and Grit” is not about family violence but about love, illness and death.
Sergei Petrov, Vedomosti
Vyrypaev addressed himself to a very complex and dubious story. The complexity stems from the fact that the audience would definitely comprise not only the neutral viewers but also those who would be frightened and strung up by it (those need to be treated with special care and mustn’t be pressured). They are the people who have had the experience of losing relatives or of having been ill themselves. In this case Vyrypaev’s trademark technique of minimalism seems to come in very handy.
Vera Kopylova, RIA Novosti
“The book begins like this: ‘I’m writing these lines 10 years after Teyna’s death”. So the initiating event is Ken’s decision to let the book come out in print. He didn’t have to do it. It gave him agonies to write it. But he decided to make the private story public. For the theatre the initiating event is the accessibility of this story: the audience has a chance to learn it. It is very important that this is a true story. And it works. We can’t imagine how it feels when they say you’ve got three tumors in the brain, twelve in the lungs plus you have problems with eyesight. And you write in your diary: “I must open my heart”. You try and write this…