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Cops on Fire: The True Story

Category: by sasha pas, guests, music, russia, theatre
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The Cops on Fire-story started more than a year ago. One evening I met my friend Sasha Kholenko (DZA) in the 16tonns cafe in Moscow, the club where DZA together with how2make-crew made concerts and gigs during the time. He told me about one of his projects, a radio play based on a detective story about cops and killers. The play included more than 30 hip-hop tracks, each track was a short episode in the play. DZA made all the beats and loops for that project called “Cops On Fire”. He asked if I want to meet the other guys in the project, and make this on stage and not only on radio.

So, why did he ask me? At that moment I was working with the theatre group  “Le Cirque de Sharles La Tannes”. In 2005 we staged The Crystal World, a short story by Victor Pelevin. The interesting thing was that all the music for The Crystal World was composed by another member of how2make-crew, the talanted electronic musician Roma Litvinov (Mujuice). It felt like a good chance to make another experiment with how2make-crew on stage. But now with hip-hop.

So we started to work…

We had however no budget. So by the time we had the idea of how it could be on stage, we started search for sponsor. We thought we needed more or less 8000$ for the whole production. (Finally it costed more than 10000$). But we failed to find any sponsor. Probably we didn’t try hard enough. Everyone was eager to start the production and rehearsals as soon as possible, and to search for sponsors are a rather boring work. So we, me and my partner, Jury Kvyatkovsky (the director of “Cops On Fire”) invested our own money. But many helped. One of our friends proposed us a studio for the rehearsals, another found some costumes, another made the decorations on credit. And in September last year we had a call from S:t Petersburg and they invited us to the Sergey Kuryokhin Festival. We agreed and had only two months to finish everything.

The premiere in St.Petersburg was very sucessful. Even though we didn’t like the technical result – the place was a cinema but we prefer a theatre. The audience loved it though. Directly after that we started to work with the Moscow premiere and tried to make it in the best possible way. After several months of working it seemed as everyone finally started to believe in what they were doing. The premiere in Moscow got only one negative comment and that was that we used to much slang and bad language in the play, and we have now cut some of those.

However, the most interesting thing with our project is that we, subconsciously, have made a very social and actual project. In Russia there were several scandals connected to the police last year. There where for instance a shooting at a supermarket by a Major Evsukov and a video message for Medvedev. Our story is opposed to real life with the most fair cop. He is a true social order keeper. He spares no effort to put his vision of what’s right and what’s wrong into practice. Still there are very few comments from theatre audience about this connection.

“Cops on Fire” gives two shows every month in Moscow at the theatre centre “Na Strastnom”. In June it will be the 10th show in Moscow. Each time the house is full. About 3000 people have seen the show so far. In May “Cops On Fire” gave a live show on “TransMusicales” festival, and in September we will take part in international theatre festival GOGOLFEST in Kiev, Ukraine. And we have also started a film project….

…to be continued…

Cops on fire at facebook

Sasha Pas is art-director of Le Cirque de Sharles La Tannes – an independent creative group of actors, directors, musicians and artisits, based in Moscow, Russia. In past recent years – editor and founder of 55 pdf magazine. Now works as a creative producer of Cops On Fire project.

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Yuriy Zmorovych: “An avantgardist should always be in opposition to the norm”

Category: art, avantgarde, by sophie engström, music, theatre, ukraine
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Read the Swedish version here.

What is avantgarde? I ask myself while sitting with avant-garde sculptor, musician, poet and theatre man Yuriy Zmorovych in his chaotic but very cozy studio in central Kyiv. Books, sculptures, self-made instruments, videotapes, DVDs and vinyl records are stacked in a very wayward regime only known by Yuriy. How should I manage to explain the greatness, humor and the presence of this man’s work, by just using some few words? I ask myself further. For many the term avant-garde have elitistic, pretentious and even obsolete conjections. But Yuriy Zmorovychs avantgarde do not fit into this description. His avantgarde expression is playful, intelligence which feels current and contemporary, without being pretentious. It must be the humor that is key to, I think, for Yuriy has no problem laughing captivating when he talks about his own creations and ideas.

ЮРИЙ ЗМОРОВИЧ / YURIY ZMOROVYCH

ЮРИЙ ЗМОРОВИЧ / YURIY ZMOROVYCH

Yuriy Zmorovych has a great production. He began his career as an improviser in early 1970s. And in the early 1980s, he met the Russian musician and avantgardist Sergei Letov. This meeting has led to several collaborations, but in the beginning it was actually mainly film-making and Yuriy made two films together with Letov, improvised on the theme of creation.

In the 1990s he started to work with international artists and one of the more memorable was when he worked with the French group improvisation ARFI. (ARFI stands for Association à la recherche d’un Folklore imaginaire.) In a few weeks in August 1991 they played on a river boat that went from Kiev to Odessa. Between their improvisations, they all sat like glued in front of the radio and listened to the reports on events from Moscow. It was the time when the Soviet Union fell apart.

In constant opposition
For Yuriy, this was symbolic. He went on his river boat and broke new ground, or traveling in new waters, with avantgarde musicians who had similar views on the creation of his own. And in then same time Soviet Union came to an end. For him, avantgarde must constantly stands in opposition to the norm, fighting oppression and those who exercise power.

It was never easy to be improvisational in the Soviet Union, he says, adding that it is of course much easier for young people today to choose that path. Jazz was, for example, prohibited, and he tells emphatically how he, after several years of searching, found “A Drum Is a Woman” by Duke Ellington on a black market in Odessa.

– Duke Ellington had a great spontaneity and it has always been fruitful for my own creativity. But since I came into improvised jazz and avant-garde, I must admit that I abandoned him to others. Along with the Dadaism and Malevich, Ellington are my icons, Yuriy implies.

Yuriy would not want to notify other sources of inspiration, and responds that it could be anything. The rain, a cat jamar, no talking, cars driving along the street, or an internal flow.

The key to the avantgarde expression, according to Yuriy to listen to the spontaneous creative process, to dare to open the doors to the inner voice and not be afraid of what you hear, and the second cornerstone of the avantgarde expression is that always stand in opposition against the norm. This expression is found in the inner voice if you just listen, he says.

His untuned piano was a great beginning
Already in the beginning, in 1970s, his drive was to create a kind of noise generator or stream from the innermost of the soul and the body. He says that he therefor began to play on an untuned piano. An excellent choice, Yuriy implies.

– In my ears it sounded accurate, of course, he laughs.

YURIY ZMOROVYCH

YURIY ZMOROVYCH

By then he started to build his own instruments. The material was everything he found around him. Metal, plastic, cloth, paper, combined with a guitar string can make miracles.

– Like this, he says and picks up an old plastic bottle with a round hole in the middle. Through the plastic bottle, he has strained a guitar string. When he plays on the string, while screws on the cap, it sounds actually strangely surreal.

Avantgarde theater
In the 1990s Yuriy had the opportunity to become the creative leader for avantgarde theater Teatr AA. His partner was Olexandr Nesterov (link in Ukrainian), a legendary avantgarde guitarist and composer who dead in 2005. They worked with both amateur and professional actors. Important for the project was to lead the actors to learn to play instruments, and to act spontaneously, to improvise. This was not always easy, since many were trained actors. To release an already learned knowledge of how acting should be is not easy, says Yuriy.


In Memoriam Nesterov – with Kiritchenko, Коtrа, Zagaykevych, Letov, Makarov, Borisov, Yaremchuk, Tovstukha, Khmelyov, Ohrymchuk, Strelnikov, Klymenko, Zmorovych, Smetanin, Rudyi, Putyatin, Khmelyov, Makhno. NOTE! You hear Zmorovych in the second piece (if ou have any problem hearing it here, go to the website, see the link above) and not on the first, that is Yuriy Yaremchuck performing!

Teatr AAA got much attention, not only in former Soviet Union but also in Western Europe and the USA. But during the crisis years of the 1990s the sponsors fled and the theater had to be closed.

“Avantgarde should never be decorative”
Yuriy loves to to work with amateurs. He argues that the most important thing is to be creative and to be self-taught and that does not necessarily mean that you do not know how to create. He argues that many musicians or artists in avantgarde often are overly decorative in their design and not in opposition to the norm. He points a little at his compatriot Yuriy Jaremchych, he also worked with previously. But they have chosen different ways and is therefore not entirely agree on the avantgarde expression. At the same time Yuriy Zmorovych would never allow condemnation against other artists.

I ask him what he thinks about the future and he urge that he believes that a new generations will bring avantgarde further to new dimensions. The forms will of course be different, but the most incentives will stand.

– The human mind is collective, and our knowledge is shared. New influences will of course be added as our lives are changing. These are doors that the avantgardist should open. But how it will be can only the future reveal, he concludes.

And I am really feel enthusiastic by his optimism.

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“Cops on Fire” a very new Hip-hopera

Category: art, by sophie engström, music, russia, theatre
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The hip-hopera “Cops on Fire” have the first night of performance on the 4th of December in S:t Petersburg. The music is written by Alexander Holenko, also known as Sasha Dza or Dzhem, who also is the founder of the label how2make. The director is Yury Kvyatkovsky and the creative producer Sasha Pas.

The creative association Le Cirque de Sharles La Tannes stands for the performance. Some probably remember their interpretation of the Russian author Victor Pelevin’s short story “The crystal world”. You can watch a clip from that performance under the cut.

copsonfire

The press release about “Cop on Fire” tell us is an experimental project and result of creative confluence of theatre culture and contemporary youth music. The creators decided to call the genre of their creation «hip-hopera». Hip-hopera = live hip-hop arias + original decorations + tricks + choreography.

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