“Chippolino” play was forbidden from showing in Moscow

“We cannot allow to show this in public theatre”

Spectacle based on famous Gianni Rodari‘s novel “Adventures of Chippolino”, previously chosen for a program of international festival, was deleted from show at the last moment. The reason behind this sudden change of attitude, according to director of the theatre, was “We cannot show this in public (means – state-funded) theatre”. Meanwhile, those theatre employees, responsible for chosing it for a festival’s list are expecting some form of punishment from administration.

Frankly, the spectacle itself is quiet controversial.

This spectacle was directed by cast of Moscow Lianozovsky theatre. Previously it was picked for a XVI International amateur theatre festival “From youth – to youth”, which took place in Moscow from 5 to 10 of November 2019. But at the very last hour spectacle was removed from show list. Alexander Tattari, director of the cast, told:

“At 6th of November, during the festival, director of Arts Center “Scena”, Mrs Petrova told me that our spectacle was removed from the festival’s program. Her motives were – we cannot show a play with such radical context on stage of state-funded theatre. All of us have families, mortgages, we are in no position to risk all this, you must understand. Moreover, she said that will punish those who choose our spectacle for participation, which sounds weird, knowing the fact that she personally signed official invitation for us”.

Tattari also added, that nevertheless his cast will perform the play in their Lianozovsky theatre.
But those who already saw this play pointed its quiet controversial and overbroad interpretation. They claim that some of scenes had very portrayed in anti-soviet way. For example, during moment of demolishing house of Uncle Pumpkin, crowd shouts “Here comes nationalisation!”. This is how director of the cast is trying to add into original text his own anti-revolutionary sentiment.

“Chippolino” is a very famous children’s novel of Italian writer Gianni Rodari. It was published several times in Russian and many other languages, in 1961 “Chippolino” cartoon hit the theatres, even ballet with the same name was played. Despite it’s playful and fantasy nature, this novel posesses strong satire, revealing injustice of modern society, cleverly pointing out flaws and indicencies of ruling class, their insatiable greed and desire to impose total control over society.

It is not the first time in contemporary Russia such weird cases of political censorship taking their place. In 2014, Moscow theatre “United performers of Taganka” changed the original ending of the play due to aforementioned censorship. According to director Yekaterina Koroleva, her colleagues in theatre were afraid to show “any revolutions”, so they decided to change the ending of the play, where heroes of the novel overthrow the rule of Prince Lemon into sending delegation at prince’s court, and after receiving their complaints Lemon suddenly listens to them and abolishes all unjust laws, which he introduced in the first place!

Such political whitewashing also affected poem of most famous and respected Russian poet Alexander Pushkin “About priest and his helper named Balda (literally — dumbass)”, where cheapskate priest gets punished for being greedy by his worker in a funny way. In 2016 version of Armavir theatre’s priest was changed for a merchant.

It’s quiet interesting to watch how Russian authorities are afraid of being laughed at, especially if it involves political satire. Good old laughter is a strong weapon against dishonest and corrupt. Our own homegrown “signoros Pomidoros” are gladly willing to ban any book, plays, novels and songs that shows not enough loyalty to their rule. But these desperate attempts to preserve legitimacy only make people more susceptible and prone to such satire.

Nevertheless, we should be cautious towards criticism from liberal side, because they also represent another side of ruling establishment, that now lost it’s position of power as it was back in early 90’s, where they praised Yeltsin’s actions , who ordered shelling of democraticly elected parlaiment in ’93 and were in a forefront of privatisation of public property, caused millions of deaths of fellow citizens. They hate ordinary working people of Russia as much as their counterparts in Kremlin, and will fight to protect the order so despised and fought against by Chippolino