Interview with Denis Novoseltsev

by Maria Ushakova

Denis Novoseltsev is a young producer, a successful entrepreneur and a charismatic actor. I call Denis the new Diaghilev. Firstly, because he looks like him, secondly, because I want to see someone finally promoting Russian art abroad, and thirdly because he is one of the most energetic and promising young theatrical figures in Russia. He has several very successful theatre projects.

For example, Denis surprised a lot of people when he managed to bring the musical ‘Dubrovsky’ to Moscow from Minsk, complete with a cast of 100 people, without state financing and without help from people who would take advantage of the play…

After graduating from the Shchukinskiy Institute, Denis entered the High School of Performing Arts, where he wrote a dissertation about a very interesting project, which is called ‘School Classic.’ (www.школьнаяклассика.рф). On the April 19th the project will be two years old. I met with him to talk about this successful project, and not only about that.

Denis, please tell us how was the idea of ‘School’s Classics’ was born and why did you choose this type of project?

My first degree was in acting, I graduated from the Theatrical Institute of Boris Shchukin. While I was studying, I watched a lot of performances in and observed the process of modernizing the classics. I came to the conclusion that school students need to watch original plays, rather than those modern ones, that are offered by so many theatres right now. This, and only this, will help children. The project is presented in this way: during the theatre season we watch plays in Moscow and other cities of Russia which are based on the school curriculum. After that, we put the best of them on in Moscow. So, in October for example, we put on ‘Woe from Wit’ by the Moscow Theatre at Pokrovka…

How many performances have been put on since 2014?

To date, over 100 plays, an average of two shows per week from October to April.

What age groups do the plays appeal to?

Prior to this season, we played shows in 12+ category, this year we have put a number of performances for elementary school children so the 6+ age group. So in this season, we have covered all age groups from first to 11th grade.

What schools do you work with? Only state schools, or private as well?

Both.

People say that you plan to have performances in foreign languages, and in Russian abroad?

The English language and English literature is in the first place of call for everybody who is interested in foreign cultures. I believe that it is necessary to learn the language as a child, when one has a fresh memory and a good imagination, and the language must be taught by native speakers.

We are now working on two performances and one is being planned, ‘The Catcher in the Rye, directed by the talented Daniel Romanov with a premiere at the end of January. We are also planning ‘Pygmalion’ directed by the founder of the Moscow English theatre Jonathan Salway. ‘Pygmalion’ will be premiered at the end of February. And, of course, “Chechov’s tales” in English.

Which of the classics do you like the most?

I think reading the classics such as Shakespeare, Byron, Wilde, Dickens, George Bernard Shaw and other great play writers at a young age in extremely important. I also think that people should become acquainted with the theatre when they are young, and it would be fantastic if plays could be part of the school curriculum. Even better, if children themselves perform in such shows under the direction of British actors and directors.