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  • Writer's pictureJulia Sumzina

Ivan Nikulcha: ...It all starts with interest and curiosity!

RUS: Иван Никульча уже около 20 лет служит в театре Романа Виктюка. В его репертуаре разнообразные роли, такие как Иоканаан (Саломея) и Азазелло (Мастер и Маргарита), Вэл Зевьер (Орфей) и Фокусник-неудачник/Чудотворец (Пир), многим известен его Месье (Служанки) , в каждом из этих и многих других спектаклей Иван поражает зрителя своей энергией и полной актерской отдачей.

Мы поговорили с Иваном о профессии, работе с Романом Виктюком и источниках вдохновения.

ENG: Ivan Nikulcha has been working in the Roman Viktyuk's Theater for about 20 years. His repertoire includes various roles such as Iokanaan (Salome) and Azazello (Master and Margarita), Val Zevier (Orpheus) and Failed Magician/Wonderworker (Feast), many know his Monsieur (Les Bonnes), in each of these and many others roles, Ivan amazes the audience with his energy and full acting efficiency.

We have talked with Ivan about the profession, working with Roman Viktyuk and sources of inspiration.

About theatre directing education:

I will say that directing education has a wider range, and in terms of acting, it gives more than an acting course. On the director's course, there are more opportunities for the realization of the same actor's work. You get to know a great style of acting possibilities. So I had such a solid baggage from the director's education. But I'm not directing now. I have been acting for 18 - 20 years.

About Roman Viktyuk:

Every five years, Roman Grigoryevich changed his stylistic direction: because there was the era of the 90s, there was Madama Butterfly, I was just a child and had not even studied anywhere that time. There were Les Bonnes, then it was restored, and I had the opportunity to touch this story. Salome is again a different aesthetic, Roman Grigorievich did not return to it again. A Clockwork Orange aesthetic that I didn't take part in. But I saw it, when I was a student, he also never returned to this aesthetic. Spring awakening... He didn't go back to it. He was cyclical, he devoted five years to something, then switched to a different style. Therefore, all his performances are different.

His last work is The Poisoned Tunic. The most interesting thing, he wanted to make it for a very long time, I was still a student, and he offered me, as a director, to stage either the Poisoned Tunic or Tsvetaeva. I chose Tsvetaeva. And that's why all his performances are different. He plunged into this world, he plunged into another world, which was interesting from an artistic point of view.

His main idea was the idea of love, or rather even the impossibility of love. If we take the performances of The Master and Margarita and Les Bonnes. The Master and Margarita represents the impossibility of love in the world in which they existed during the period Bulgakov wrote about. Therefore, they had to ascend from here... "Only there I will sing for you, I will dance for you..." Margarita says. And there is something similar in Les Bonnes, Solange and Claire: "I will follow you...". There are two different authors here, Mikhail Bulgakov and Jean Genet, absolutely two different aesthetics, two different worlds. Countries are different, but the impossibility of love is common. Roman Grigoryevich was interested in this: how to live, how to love in such specific circumstances, when it is impossible for you, for someone it is impossible due to social status, and for others it is impossible because of the dictatorship.

About the hardest part of acting:

The most difficult thing is to always remain truthful in the acting profession. You must always be open. And I like the fact that in our relationship with Roman Viktyuk, as between a master and an actor, he gave me the opportunity to play opposites. For example, Iokanaan in Salome and Azazello in The Master and Margarita, they’re completely opposite roles. Roman Grigorievich did not give me a role according to the image, as they give when you are studying. For example, a lover. Of course, of course, I have it, I play some things that are characteristic of my physics. But Viktyuk loved experiments with the psyche, with what was inside. For each character, you need to choose a language, acting keys, they are different and interesting. There are shifting characters: for example, Monsieur in Les Bonnes, he is so "arrogant and handsome", and then suddenly he’s on the heels. This is what I love.

About the trainings:

Basically, the trainings I create are not really acting ones, young actors come to me, but not only they... But acting exercises help. In this case, in order to immerse a person in some other worlds or sensations. The goal of training is to get a feel, not a skill. We can feel a similar feeling on the stage, when? Well, the actors can, when we act. There is a performance, there is an aesthetics, there is an atmosphere of a performance and the specific world. But with the help of exercises, you can achieve some sensations that you cannot achieve in life. The exercises depend on what kind of people come. I understand that for example today one type of people came to the training and today it will be like this, the next day other people come. The goal is to get a feeling, to move away from the very difficult reality, to come to the artistic world within oneself. Some of the exercises are done in silence, in the dark… I love that. Such moments become more sensual and subtle...

And I use these moments without light with the help of music and atmosphere. There was an interesting activity recently. For a long time, about 10 years ago, I heard recordings where scientists recorded the sounds of different planets: Jupiter, Venus, and so on. They make interesting sounds. And as a background, these sounds fit a lot of things. I wrote in my Instagram that we will listen to the Universe. Literally. And a lot of people don't understand what that means. This is what I explained in class. And what is the most important thing in acting classes? The first thing that should be there is faith, you sink in, that you accept the conditions that you are given. The task is to come to harmony with yourself.

About free time:

I watch films and listen to music. I learned this from Roman Viktyuk, I came to his house, and he had a wall full of disks, books... I don't read as much as he did, but music and films are my everything. When people ask for advice... Lord, I have watched so much and I understand that I have not seen so much.

About cinema:

In the Elvis (2022) movie... I started watching because of Tom Hanks, but it turned out that Austin Butler was amazing as Elvis. I rewatched some moments, and it's very cool, he did a great job. I would like him to take an Oscar, the guy deserved it.

About music:

I was recently asked: if you are sent to a desert island, what kind of music would you take with you? The whole collection of classical music, for sure, jazz, from rock it’s Pink Floyd... I would take ethno music. I have discovered ethno jazz!

Now I'm very interested in Scandinavian music, it has strong roots, now a new wave of folk music has appeared... People ask me how I feel about the Internet... You can find everything you want in the Internet. For example, Scandinavian music, ethno music. I am also interested in the music of those folks who inhabited the modern territory of Iraq, there are excavations, and the musical culture that can be found is very interesting...

About photo and painting:

Earlier, when I came to this, it looked like this: there are several canvases, paints at home, let’s go! It was more of a meditation. Are you moving in harmony? Yes. You do not think about what kind of plot it has... I have no art education. Now I'm interested in art installation using all kinds of materials. Of course, I like the expressionists.

As for photography, probably, if at first it was a reportage photograph, then, now, my period of theater photography has just ended, because I took photographs of Roman Viktyuk's performances. It was also a new world for me. Therefore, I am glad that many of my works are now hanging in the theatre.

About interest:

It's all interesting, it's just interesting. That's all. Theatre is interesting, it's interesting, everything is interesting, everything starts with interest. It is very difficult for me to do what I am not interested in. Of course, you need to motivate yourself somehow. I understand that this is wrong, but you still do what interests you. It will be successful or it will have some kind of artistic significance, in the end, what you do photographs or a picture depends only on how interesting it is for you, how much it charges you. That's all. Literally anything can be of interest: I periodically go to museums, study, recharge my energy.

It’s the same with the theatre, it happens that you feel tired, but you can go, look at colleagues and recharge. Now there are so many interesting things, so many young artists, interesting things, directors, actors, musicians… So, it all starts with interest and curiosity!

Interview and photos: Julia Sumzina

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