Mihhail Plutahhin, Petr Volkov


GULAG History Museum and Teatr Predmeta, Moscow
Presented in the frame of Russian Case 2020
Authors of the idea: Mihhail Plutahhin, Petr Volkov
Director: Mihhail Plutahhin
Set designer: Olga Galitskaya
“The Observers” evolved out of a sketch made during Gulag History Museum theater laboratory, in which several teams were asked to work with letters and diaries of the repressed or with investigation documents. The creators of the play work with objects brought from the Museum’s expeditions to Chukotka and Kolyma, to the places where one of the labour camps was located.
The director, Mihhail Plutahhin, has been showing interest in puppet theatre and object theatre since his years as a student of Dmitry Brusnikin’s acting workshop. “The Observers” is the first production of his theatre, the principles of which are rejection of the word, separation of audio and visual tracks, careful attention to the object used.
The performers here are at the same time puppeteers working with the museum’s belongings and museum workers and anthropologists who find themselves on stage. The audience is free to choose whether to follow the story of one day at the labour camp, with dramaturgy of human disaster, or to perceive it all abstractly, as a musical performance, created by objects touching and sliding against each other - instrument objects and reminder objects.

Elizaveta Spivakovskaya

The main characters of the production are household items and other artifacts which were brought by the scientific expeditions of the Gulag History Museum from the former camps in Chukotka and Kolyma. Through these objects, the authors of the play speculate about the era of Stalin`s terror, and through different stories, try to recreate the whole picture of that time. The spectators become purely neutral observers who no longer have power over the past, but can be more attentive to the events of the present.


The difference between a museum window with exhibits and accompanying text from a performance is that a performance, to a greater extent, is a work with metaphors. For example, a hotplate may be the sun. A kettle may be not just a kettle. This is a character which rules over mugs and can give or cannot give them something. The subject theater constantly provokes the spectator and exercises the imagination.


Basic Production Information. Click here