The Songspiels of Chto Delat?
The Songspiels take on a mode of musical theatre developed by playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill in the early twentieth century, presenting political and social concerns through the accessible and (often funny) form of song.
Chto Delat? are a group of Russian artists, philosophers, and writers who fuse art, political theory and activism. Amongst other things (incl. newspapers, exhibitions, plays), they make incredible, formal and theatrical1 films: some of the most urgent and astounding artists films currently being made.
We’re going to show two of their Songspiels, and Dmitry Vilensky from Chto Delat? will join us by video from St Petersburg to talk about them. The Songspiels take on a mode of musical theatre developed by playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill in the early twentieth century, presenting political and social concerns through the accessible and (often funny) form of song.
Funny and urgent, often slightly/ deliberately absurd; Chto Delat?’s films turn particular examples, into typical characters in typical circumstances. They try to touch the viewer's heart without entertaining them; they persuade, seduce, and confound.
Partisan Songspiel deals with the political oppression and forced evictions of the Roma people inhabiting the settlement of Belleville, Belgrade, and a more universal political message about the oppressors and the oppressed: the city government, war profiteers and business tycoons vs. factory workers, NGO/minority activists, disabled war veterans, and ethnic minorities.
The Tower: A Songspiel looks at the conflict around the planned Okhta Centre development in St. Petersburg, (“Gazprom Tower”, designed by the Scottish architectural firm RMJM2). Despite strong local resistance, Gazprom has managed to secure all the necessary permissions and has begun construction. The Gazprom tower is promoted by the authorities as a symbol of a new, modernised Russia. The film asks how such symbols are produced and how projects like this can be pushed through, despite the resistance of ordinary citizens.
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0