Архив рубрики: Eng

Talking Across Borders: An Interview with Russian Playwright Rodion Beletsky

by Robert Kerr

rodin_1.jpg__282x1000_q85_subsampling-2Playwright Robert Kerr talks with Rodion Beletsky (pictured left) about his play, NOISE FOLLOWING THE PLANE OR A CONVERSATION THAT NEVER HAPPENED. An English translation of the play will receive a staged reading at The Lark on November 5th, at 7pm as part of the Russia/US Translation Exchange.
Reserve your seat now, all tickets are free!

Robert: Let’s start at the beginning: What got you started writing plays? What is it about theater that attracts you as a writer?

Rodion: The high school I went to was very unusual; it was the first one in Moscow to offer a theater class to the students. It was there, at age 15, that I wrote my first play. The play was silly, an absurdist play which was called A Nightmare or Corn-flowers. Quite unexpectedly for me, it became a success with my class-mates, and for a while my two best friends even undertook to pay me one ruble a day to have me write something on a daily basis. I know theater from the inside, and have a rather extensive experience as an actor. But acting on stage is not my thing at all. Much more than being directly involved in theatrical action, I enjoy standing a little bit to the side and inventing things to happen on stage.

Robert: What was the genesis of Noise Following the Plane? (That’s a great title, by the way, and I love how you work the image into the play). If you don’t mind my asking, what is the play about for you?

Rodion: I lost a close friend. And it felt terrible, it was a very hard blow. I started writing the play a few days after his death. That was a way to talk to a person I’ll never talk to again. The stories I tell in the play are based on real events, except that, of course, as a professional author, I added some things, highlighted others, and “drove in” some points. Unlike my other plays, that one was written very fast. It took less than a month.

Robert: Have you ever had your plays translated into another language before? If so, what was your involvement in the process?

Rodion: Yes, my plays have been translated before. Into Spanish, English (by Graham Schmidt), Ukrainian, and staged in those languages. I was not involved in the process of translation, just answering questions the translators had. I have a dream of having my comedy, Polyglots, translated into English. The point is that the entire play unfolds in an English club for language learners in Moscow. All characters use heavily Russianized English. I think reproducing this hybrid lingo would be an interesting challenge for a translator.

Robert: What are your goals or expectations for your residency at the Lark, and for the translation of Noise Following the Plane? How concerned are you about conveying anything that is specifically “Russian” to an American or English-speaking audience?

Rodion: I believe that by combining the efforts of the translator, director, and actors, we will be able to make the specifically “Russian” parts of the play clear and accessible. These parts are very few. I think any audience will be able to relate to the play the way anyone can relate to a dialogue on life and death, close friendship and all those things that people never have time or daring to say to each other while still alive. I want people to laugh and cry. My most important expectation is a lively emotional response on the part of the American audience.

Playwrights’ Corner


Written by Rodion Beletsky



A small, dimly lit bar with low ceilings. Some soft music is playing. There’s a tape-recorder at the bar counter. Behind the counter we see Father (63). He is busy calculating revenues on a calculator.

Veronica is standing next to him, with her back to Father. She is washing the glasses and putting them on a tray. Her eyes are wide open, but her look is empty. Veronica puts the last glass at the tray, grabs a towel without even looking and wipes her hands.

Dad, what time is it?

Father turns off the tape-recorder.

Veronica puts the towel aside, turns around, and picks up her guitar, which was standing somewhere under the bar-counter.

Father shakes his head in disapproval.

Veronica walks past the counter and heads towards a small stage, making her way past the tables. She is holding the guitar in her right hand, and stretching her left hand a bit forward, to avoid bumping into things. Now we understand, Veronica is blind.

Veronica accidentally rubs the guitar against a chair. A dull sound breaks the silence.

A Drunk wakes up at one of the tables, and opens his blear eyes.

At one of the other tables we see a young couple, staring at the iPhone, and sharing the headphones.

Veronica settles at the stage, takes the guitar in her hands and finds the mike.

Good evening, dear guests.

Neither the Drunk nor the couple pays any attention to her.

Father looks down. He feels shame.

Today I’m going to sing my favorite song for you.
“You are not alone”.

Veronica starts playing the Michael Jackson song, accompanying herself on guitar. She’s not a very good guitar player, but her singing is quite impressive. She is obviously confused.

Father buries his face in his hands.

The Drunk gets to his feet and heads to the exit, loudly bumping into some chairs as he goes.

The couple cracks up. They react to what they are watching on the iPhone.

Thank you so much. You are wonderful.

Father looks at the empty hall, then at the couple and starts applauding loudly.

Thank you, dad.

Veronica takes the guitar strap off her shoulder and walks back to the counter, stretching her hand a bit forward to avoid bumping into things.



Father is standing there with the Extras Coordinator. Father gives him a thick envelope.

Extras Coordinator takes the envelope, opens it and finds a wad of money there. He counts it.

They shouldn’t leave before she finishes singing. They should stay some time after as well.

Don’t worry. They’ll do what they should. It will be just like in movies.

Father and Extras Coordinator shake hands.



The tape-recorder is playing. Father is behind the bar counter. He is tense. He looks around.

The bar is full. There are 30 people there. People of different age and background.

Extras Coordinator is seated at the table, closest to the stage. He stands up upon seeing that Father is looking at him. But Father gives him a sign – it’s too early.

Father looks at Veronica, she finishes washing the last glass, grabs the towel, and wipes her hands.

Dad, what time is it?

Your time has come, sweetheart!

That sounds fake, and Veronica notices it. She picks up the guitar and heads to the stage.

Full house tonight!

Father turns off the tape-recorder and shakes his head – it’s a sign for the Extras Coordinator that it’s still too early.

Veronica gets onto the stage, right in the spotlight. She finds the mike.

Good evening, friends.

Under this everyone turns to the Extras Coordinator, but he shakes his head in the negative.

Tonight I will sing my favorite song for you. It’s called “You are not alone”…

Veronica starts singing.

People at the tables are not moved at all, occasionally they look at the Extras Coordinator.

Veronica finishes singing.

Father nods to the Extras Coordinator.

Extras Coordinator swiftly pulls out a sign that reads “Applause” from under the table.

Suddenly everyone starts applauding really loud.


The extras stand up, still applauding.

Veronica is happy and confused, she doesn’t know what to do. She bows awkwardly. Tears appear in her eyes. The extras keep applauding. Veronica bows again.

Thank you, thank you so much! Thank you…

Father smiles. He is proud of himself. But his smile fades away when he sees that suddenly people stop applauding and start leaving the bar. He sees the Extras Coordinator as well, he is on his way out too.

Father hurries out of the bar counter to catch him, but happy Veronica approaches him.

Dad, have you heard?!

I have! Your time has come!

Father hugs Veronica, watching the Extras Coordinator leave. Everyone else has gone too. Father and Veronica are the only two people at the bar. Father и Veronica stop hugging.

I’ve started learning a new song.

What song?

It’s going to be a surprise. For you.

Under this the door opens and the Bald Guy enters. He quickly comes up to Father.

Excuse me, when is the movie going to be aired?

What movie?

I just wanted to know when I could see myself on the TV.

Veronica figures it all out, turns around and heads to the exit, grabbing her stick, leaning against the counter.

Veronica, please wait!

The door shuts. Veronica has gone.



Father is behind the bar counter, calculating on the calculator.

Veronica is with his back to him, washing the glasses. The tape recorder is playing.

Father looks at the watch and turns off the tape recorder.

Veronica, it’s time.

I’m not going anywhere.

I’m so sorry, sweetheart.

It’s not about you.

Beat. Father looks at the empty stage. He looks resolute — so he gets on the stage and approaches the mike.

At the bar we see the Drunk, a Woman and a Man. All three are occupying different tables.

I am going to sing now. This is a song… for my daughter. (SINGS) You are not alone…

The Drunk wakes up and looks at Father with his bleary eyes.

Father goes on singing. He is really bad at it, he blushes, yet trying to do his best.

From the bar counter to the stage, from darkness to light, Veronica is making her way with the guitar in her hand. She climbs up the stage, next to her father and starts singing along, accompanying on guitar.

You are not alone. I am here with you. Though
we’re far apart, you’re always in my heart but
you are not alone…

O/S: We hear a crowd of thousands applaud.



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