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Matt Lee | Photo: Lorenzo Bringheli | April 28, 2014
Mikhail Baryshnikov channels Chekhov at the MCA.
Rising to fame in the ’70s as the greatest ballet dancer of his generation, Mikhail Baryshnikov later became known to Gen Xers as one of Sarah Jessica Parker’s love interests on Sex and the City. The following generation, though, may remember him for his most recent artistic incarnation—that of an edgy interpreter of avant-garde theater. “I still occasionally go on stage and dance… but I’m more interested in the spoken word in relationship with theatrical experimentation,” says Baryshnikov, who visits the MCA for Man in a Case May 15-18. For the production, Baryshnikov returns to his Russian roots to perform the work of one of the world’s great dramatists, Anton Chekhov—though not in the way one would expect. The production is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, “Man in a Case” and “About Love,” with Baryshnikov starring in both pieces. “They are completely different, but both are about love,” he says. To tell the stories, directors Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar rely on much more than words, incorporating multimedia such as surveillance footage, folk dance, instructional hunting videos and interviews with the cast to create a provocative sensory experience. “That’s what all capable theater directors are looking for… to find a new language in the theater, a new approach relevant to the present day,” says Baryshnikov. “There’s video, a lot of effects; it’s highly choreographed.” As an added bonus, it’s possible that attendees will, in fact, be able to brag post-performance that they’ve seen the great Baryshnikov dance: Rumor has it that, at one point, he indulges in a little jig.
Director Bob Wilson, writer Daniil Kharms, Anton Chekhov
Long-term plans: “My plate is full with two productions— one here, one in Europe. I can’t ask for anything more.”