Sunday, February 19, 2017

Кот в сапогах -- Puss in Boots

 via Wikipedia
About a week ago, Olga invited me to join her and her two boys for a performance at the Petropavlovsk theater of

Кот в сапогах , Sunday 19 February at 11 AM.  

I happily agreed.  

Saturday was a day of intense wind and snow.  I still have no idea how much snow fell because it was rearranged so much by the wind into bare spots (old snow) and drifts -- a drift blocked the front door of my building, but someone had worked it open before I went out.  I woke up early on that Sunday morning and evaluated the scene as best I could, determining whether our theater excursion would proceed.  The wind had died down and the snow had mostly stopped falling.  My windows and eaves were impressively drifted.

My ktichen window Sunday AM
The eave of my balcony Sunday AM

We had a rendezvous spot at "6 km", near a large flower shop. Petropavlovsk is arranged in mostly linear fashion along the shore of Avachinskaya Guba (gulf or bay), and the locations along the main road are identified by their distance from the central post office.  The Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, as well as my flat, are located at "9 km" -- the bus terminal is at "10 km" which is also the location of the big Shamsa supermarket.  My other go-to shopping area is "8 km."

I determined to walk to our rendezvous -- that is, about three kilometers.  The main street was clear, and buses and traffic were running fine.  I tried to balance dressing for the theater with negotiating pedestrian walkways that went from cleared, to half-cleared to narrow steps to non-existent.  I wore snow boots and pants that would shed the snow.  Sometimes the walk is near the street and sometimes "inland" a bit, closer to shops.  I wished I had my walking poles, but managed not to fall, it's generally easier, in any case, to walk on snow than on the old ice that lay under it in many spots.  I arrived just about right on time, and we went to catch a bus.

Olga and her boys in front of the grand
"Kamchatka Theater of Drama and Comedy"
The boys were well dressed for snow, as were all the children I saw entering the theater.  I watched in fascination as all the snowsuits were shed and children transformed into little princes and princesses.  I did not get good pictures of those transformations before or after the performance. There is a huge coat/clothes check, clearly needed in this season. Once we left that area, though, I could hardly believe that it was a winter wonderland outside, children and parents--especially girls--dressed in flouncy, light outfits.

We were there in plenty of time to look around the theater, and we considered getting some second breakfast at the buffet, but decided to wait till after.  We looked in on the pre-theater scene, where groups of children were enjoying treats. Then we went up another level, where boys and girls were racing back and forth in a grand, wooden-floored lobby.  Good to get some physical energy out before the performance! 
groups of children enjoying a pre-performance treat at the
Kamchatka Theater of Drama and Comedy
It fascinates me to watch kids in settings like this theater, or the zoo, or a playground.  I am reminded of Lily Tomlin's character explaining to her space chums the difference between "soup" and "art", that is, the difference between a can of Campbell's soup and Andy Warhol's depiction of said can.  She later takes them to a theater performance, where her space chums decide that the audience is "art" and the performance "soup."  That is, they love watching the audience.  You must read this book. Wagner/Tomlin The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Of course the performance was in Russian...  As I watched, and enjoyed the performance as well as the audience, I realized that I should have "read the libretto" before coming to the theater.  This morning I read a short summary of the original story, which comes from the Italian "Master Cat, or The Booted Cat" (ItalianIl gatto con gli stivaliFrenchLe Maître chat ou le Chat botté) (from WIkipedia).  The English translation "Puss" seems a bit... feminine, whereas this cat is a swashbuckler -- ok, let's not get into feminist issues here....  In Russian, a male cat is "kot" and that is the word used for the Russian version "Kot v sapogakh"   A dinimutive used for female cats is "koshka" -- more like "puss" to me.  I guess I should try to find out the history of translation... later.  
After the performance, groups of children were brought up on
stage to receive gifts for their participation

The performance was very energetic, of course, geared for kids.  They were most engaged when there was physical comedy, including early on, Kot's acquisition of his boots by someone throwing them, one at a time, from offstage, where Kot had clearly annoyed someone.  There was singing (taped and lip-synched) and lots of dancing.  The Kot was of course the star of the show.  At the point where Kot is trying to convince the King that his (impoverished) master is the lord of a large estate (which Kot has tricked away from an ogre), he enjoins the children to yell out his name as the owner of all the lands they are passing through.  The kids did a great job.

In previous visits, I have been to this theater for performances by a Russian men's choir, by indigenous groups of Kamchatka, and by singers of the "bard" tradition.  Now that I have been with Olga and her boys, I think I will make more of an effort to go again.  But Olga says the St. Petersburg ballet performance is already sold out.  You have to know what's going on and how to plan ahead; clearly music and dance are easier for me to appreciate than drama and comedy.  But next time, I'll "read the libretto."

After the performance we went for a walk in Petropavlovsk center.  All the fresh snow was beautiful.  The center has many historical buildings and monuments.  More on them another time.

Costumes on display in the theater.

Here I am in my semi-practical theater outfit.
Besides this, I had only a rain-type parka,
hat and gloves (checked at the theater),
It was snowy but not cold out.

Here are Olga and her boys at the theater.  

This is the entry lobby, with huge coat check to the right.
 Not a great shot, but you can see some of the various levels of kids outside and inside dress.

This is the February 2017 schedule for the
Kamchatka Theater of Drama and Comedy

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