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Сегодня 25 May 2017 г.
26 September 2010

Genghis Khan’s Pride

Alexander Filatenko. Tuvinskaya Pravda. Translated by Heda Jindrak

Genghis Khan’s Pride Yesterday, Eduard Ondar, an actor of the theatre of music and drama flew to Kazakhstan, where he was invited for casting of the next, this time Kazakh, film about Genghis Khan. Being a superstitious person, he did not say what kind of a film it is to be, or even who is filming it. “I don’t want to jinx it”, - he smiled. But his eyes were shining with fire and gave the actor away: he was going to Astana with hope. He will be trying out for both the main role and a secondary role in this historical film.

-           After being in the film of Yakut director Andrei Borisov “By the Will of Genghis Khaan”, I always willingly agree to any proposals to act in a film. Why? To stick my head again into the profession, and to hang out with real and permanent masters of their craft. It isn’t just a course in increasing one’s qualifications, but also a powerful charge of creative energy, thanks to which you stay in form and even transmit it to other colleagues.

-          How did your life change after playing in “By the Will of Genghis Khaan”?

-          Practically not at all. But there is a feeling that everything has become more complicated both at work and in private life.

-          Star disease?

-          What do you mean? Well, I admit that I have become one, of course. Before, in my time off, just like most of my colleagues, I used to moonlight as a cab driver with my ancient “Honda”, to make a few extra kopeks. “Genghis Khaan” deprived me of this possibility. One day some elderly passenger that I was driving somewhere even complained to  my bosses – how is this possible, the Khan himself, and he has sunk to driving a riksha? That is unsuitable.

-          And that is not only cab driving, I can’t sing at weddings anymore, or be a tamada (master of ceremonies). It is like a conspiracy – these activities are inappropriate for an actor who played Genghis Khan himself. A proud, brave man. I, as a person, am also very proud, so this kind of a reproach really hurts. So I really can’t drive a taxi, or sing at weddings… I have to live, or more exactly, survive, on just my actor’s salary. There was a time that I even thought – why did I have to play that damned Genghis Khan. But, more seriously, for ordinary people I have become, let’s not say it too loud, a sort of pride.

-          Just like, Maxim Munzuk in his time after he made the film “Dersu Uzala”. After him, there was no other Tuvan actor that participated in such large-scale projects. Both “Dersu Uzala” and “By the Will of Genghis Khaan” have become cult films.

-          Possibly. I still believe that here in Tuva, we have misses a lot of opportunities during the presentation of this film, which, without any exaggeration, has become a phenomenon in the world culture. There was very little advertising, and not everybody who wanted to, managed to see the film. This event could have given an impetus to the development of culture in Tuva as the first interregional project in a long time, which was filmed in Yakutia, Tuva, Urals, Buryatia, Khakassia and Mongolia by a well-known theater director.  We have to take these things more seriously, art is an education for the nation.

-          It is not the first time that you mentioned that the theatre needs support. What form, in your opinion, should this support take?

-          What is needed is a “goszakaz” from the state. “Goszakaz” means a good show that would bring joy to the spectators’ hearts. This show should be appropriately financed – then everybody who is involved in it puts everything into it, they go, so to speak, full blast. Just like, let’s say, when they were making “Kultegin”.

-          But lately, because of the renovations of the theatre, not only there is no “goszakaz”, but there is no control at all. We are pinning our hopes on the housewarming in the renovated theatre building. I am glad that the major renovation was done, of course, but the money invested in it has to be justified, and that won’t be simple.

-          We have developed throat singing. That is great. But it also has to be developed, just like theatre art. Our throat singers are almost a separate caste. The wind instrument orchestra works independently, as well as the national orchestra. They have to be brought together. So far, the Ministry of culture and tourism works separately with the various collectives.

-          Many people here are involved in this sphere of culture. But there are only a few professionals. Those concerts are sometimes prepared on the run, scenarios are written by whoever feels like it. It is necessary to set up a self-financing production center that would be responsible for everything, starting with the preparation of the scenario and ending with designing the stage sets. The shows should also be done by professionals. It seems like the republic is not capable of paying some well-known directors to come, or theatre critics?

-          Sure, the republic is developing, Kyzyl is being built, but the level of culture of the nation stays low. When I am talking about the general level of culture, I also have the Tuvan language in mind, which is gradually being lost, and many other things.

-          Even in the theatre, there is no culture in human relations. It is terrifying. Yes, on the creative level, we are all like a family. But in private existence it is different. I do not remember that anybody ever has written any reports or memoranda about me at work. But now it is enough to have a drink after a successful show, and right away written reports to the director of the theatre show up that Ondar organized a drunken spree at the work place. What organizer, tell me?

-          I believe that an actor, because of the nature of the profession, should be free. He may be dependent only in the creative sense, and only from the director. And not from the director of the theatre, or its administrator. As Chekhov used to write, talent is formed when a person gets to know many different people. I try to associate with everybody. Including drug addicts and drunks. For me, they are all people. More than that, then I know why this person started taking drugs. And if I am next to him, maybe I will be able to help him. That is why I associate with people like that. There are no competent producers or managers who could bring together all the creative people. There are very few professional directors left.  I, for example, can think of only one – Alexei Oorzhak. There won’t be another director like him in 100 years.

-          But you did not altogether curse Genghis Khan? How did he help you?

-          In 2000, I received a departmental apartment from the Ministry of culture. I lived there for 10 years without registration. After the release of “By the Will of Genghis Khan”, I took courage to get an interview with the head of the government, Sholban Valerievich Kara-ool. Then the matter with my registration was finally solved. I registered myself with my wife and child. It turned out that until 2009 I was not registered anywhere at all. For 14 years I lived in my native Tuva without any registration. I had a stamp from Sankt-Peterburg theatrical academy in my passport, where I went to school. Now, thank god, I am registered. I even had the apartment privatized.

-          You mentioned your wife. Does she still work in your group? Somehow there has not been much heard about her lately.

-          My wife is a Chuvash by nationality. I brought her to Tuva with me in 1995. She graduated from the theatrical academy specializing in puppet theatre. I brought such a specialist, and it turned out that she was not needed. For 14 years she has been working in the theatre, and there was practically nothing for her in her specialty she is disappointed. Even though she admits that it is partially her own fault, she was not assertive enough. Art for children has always been expensive, government support is needed. And one has to know how to get that type of support.

-          A lot has been written about the renewal of the Russian troupe in the theatre…

-          It is necessary not to renew it, but to create it completely anew. It was blown away by the winds, like sand. It has to be openly admitted that there were objective reasons. Very few people remained from the original Russian population in Tuva, and those, it seems are not interested in theatre. That is the first reason. And second, it is difficult to pick up talented actors. In order to play on the stage, one needs a God’s gift. And not everybody has it. Even in Moscow theatres, which get influx from the entire Russia, there is a lack of talent. Nevertheless, our republic is multinational, and we Tuvans ourselves will lose, if we do not support and develop the culture of other nationalities, and become enriched by it.

-          We Tuvans are like this in our souls: when somebody gives us something beautiful, shiny, we sit and admire it until it breaks. And when it breaks, we again sit, mourning and waiting for them to give us more. That is very bad. We have to learn how to create beauty by ourselves.

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