The truth....beyond the arctic circle

First stage production in Bulgaria 
Teatr Replica (Sofia) 

Zapolyarnaya Pravda (The Truth… Beyond the Arctic Circle) performance based on the play by Yuriy Klavdiev (Russia).

Bulgarian translation by Vassilka Bumbarova.

Director: Georg Genoux (Germany).

Stage Design: Ksenija Peretrukhina (Russia) in collaboration with Jacov Kazhdan (Russia).

With the participation of: Ovanes Torosyan, Milko Yovchev, Ivaylo Dragiev, Blagoy Boychev, Milena Ermenkova, Boryana Peneva, Irina Andreeva, Krassimira Kuzmanova.

The play was written based on interviews with people living with HIV, collected in collaboration with the charity of “Social psychological help crisis centre “69 Parallel” (Norilsk, Russia) and was realized with the support of Cultural Policy Institute (Moscow) and Teatr.doc (Moscow). Norilsk, the city where the action takes place, is the second largest city in the world located beyond the Arctic Circle. One of the coldest, most polluted cities in the world. a high procent of boys and girls are HIV infected there. And they, like us, want to live. AIDS is a strange disease. We call it rather a phenomenon but not a disease. How else to explain that at first it does not alter the physiology but the mindset of the people?

“Zapolyarnaya Pravda” is a play about the limits of God, truth, truth, the moment when you become self-conscious as a person, about the great gift which is HIV for many persons. Believe me, it is. I’m surprised myself.”  Yuriy Klavdiev

THE MOSCOW TIMES: John Freedman about "Truth… Beyond the Arctic Circle"

“Klavdiyev, possessing a reputation as a paradoxical writer who seamlessly mixes violence and poetry in studies of young Russians, wrote “The Polar Truth” on commission after traveling to Norilsk to interview young people infected with HIV. To my knowledge, it is his first foray into the territory of documentary drama. What makes it noteworthy, however, is that in this essentially journalistic task, he never let the creative playwright in him take a back seat.

A group of young people come together in an abandoned building. They have been rejected by their families and friends because they are HIV-positive. Klavdiyev slowly zeroes in on a community that takes shape before our eyes. First there is a single person, a prostitute named Sun , who comes to this building to talk to the walls and bear her soul in privacy. She soon is joined by a young man nicknamed Tape Worm with whom she easily falls into a sexual and emotional relationship. Before long they are joined by the Kid and a mysterious girl called Nettles+Dandelions.

Most of their conversations center on the society they have left behind until Nettles+Dandelions encourages them to think about the nature of the society in which they would like to live. Curiously, it turns out that, unbeknownst to them, they have already set about establishing a kind of ideal world, one in which people care for people, accept each other for what they are and do not fear to examine their own lives.

Genoux scattered the audience members loosely throughout the performing space, thus making of them silent, close-up witnesses and occasional obstacles that the characters must navigate to move about the stage. Numerous times Genoux turns the lights out entirely, leaving everyone in pitch-black darkness. At these moments the words of the characters seem to drift in from some imagined place. In a clever twist, he ends the show by leaning on the audience to make its own contribution. To find out what that means, you’ll have to go see for yourself.

Genoux coaxed from his entire cast some of the most natural and winning performances I have seen this season. The actors’ open gazes, infectious laughter and relaxed manner of speech bring the ring of honesty to everything they do and say. Thanks to them, this tale about social outcasts balances almost entirely on a fulcrum of life-affirming twists and turns in the characters’ biographies. There are plenty of conflicts and misunderstandings, but it is the conscious choice of everyone involved in this show to examine the place where people suffering from HIV encounter life and love, rather than death and hatred.

In “The Polar Truth” Klavdiyev again demonstrated that he is one of our most capable new writers. He avoids all the cliches and pitfalls that a socially oriented play like this could fall into. The play moves forward briskly, taking sharp, dramatic turns, and it reveals the inner workings of four very different, but equally interesting people”.

Premiere 8. of february 2013

The Red House Center for Culture and Debate


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