Good news “About the Bad”: Ilya Kolmanovsky Brings His Shows to London

Author Rina Ilina
Category Culture, Education, Events, Lifestyle, People, Town
Date March 5 2024
Reading Time 3 min.

Good news “About the Bad”: Ilya Kolmanovsky Brings His Shows to London

In May (18-19th), London’s Tabernacle Theatre, Alexandrina Markvo and her theatre company Bird and Carrot will present a unique theatrical weekend featuring Ilya Kolmanovsky, who promises to provoke, engage in discussions, entertain, and enlighten with his performances “About the Bad,” “The Origin of Man,” and “The (Not So) Friendly Ape.” Playwright and director Ivan Vyrypaev praises Kolmanovsky as a shining example of new documentary theatre, blending acting, directing, and genuine storytelling with a vast theatrical toolkit without compromising the actor-audience trust.

Ilya Kolmanovsky, photo provided by the author

Kolmanovsky, a self-described nomadic observer, engages deeply with scientists, from Nobel laureates to local researchers, to gather insights and messages to share through his theatre, using the stage as a platform to spark important conversations among both adults and children. He believes that visual art, interactivity, and immersive discussions that stimulate imaginative thinking are key to understanding complex issues collectively.

Ilya Kolmanovsky / ©Tania Naiden

Before the pandemic, Londoners may remember his monodrama Homo mutabilis a collaboration with Bird and Carrot theatre production company, produced by Alexandrina Markvo, director Konstantin Kamensky known by his other London spectacles, and video artist Oleg Mikhailov (who did video art for most of Maxim Didanko’s shows, including Kremulator, Girl and Death and others). This show has explored genetic modification of humans through an interactive, multi-layered narrative. 

Ilya Kolmanovsky / ©Tania Naiden

Last fall, in the historic amphitheatre of the Royal Institution, where Faraday once lectured, the show “Monstrous Whales, Horned Mice” transformed the space into a dynamic theatre. As Kolmanovsky took the stage, the audience was instantly part of a theatrical scenery, transitioning from passive listeners to active participants and actors. Real scientific experiments were not demonstrated but re-enacted, performed, creating a spectacle that blurred the lines between science and theatre. Children assumed roles such as “Nature journal editor,” “laboratory head,” and “reviewer,” immersing the audience in an interactive journey of discovery and truth-seeking.

Ilya Kolmanovsky, photo provided by the author

Ilya Kolmanovsky’s 2024 world tour showcases “About the Bad,” a captivating performance that transports its audience through the eyes of a caveman navigating the overwhelming aisles of a modern supermarket. This narrative cleverly uses a doppelganger named “Elvis” to explore the intricate webs of consumerism, addiction, and the seductive traps of our contemporary lifestyle. Rather than preaching, it unfolds a narrative that encourages self-reflection, offering a beacon of hope and the empowering reminder that we always have a choice in how we engage with the world around us.

Ilya Kolmanovsky, photo provided by the author

In a similar vein, “The Origin of Man” delves into the essence of human evolution with a refreshing and innovative lens, emphasising the often-overlooked significance of romantic love and the advantages of gradual evolutionary progress. Through the collective creation of a vast family tree, the audience is invited to participate in a visually interactive experience that traces the remarkable journey of human success. This performance not only educates but inspires, painting a vivid picture of our ancestral roots and the pivotal moments that have shaped the course of humanity.

Ilya Kolmanovsky, photo provided by the author

Another show due to be presented in May is the stand-up “Designer Babies.” This dialogue plunges us into the abyss of moral contradictions arising today with new technologies. Synthetic embryos, human-pig chimaeras, the rights of mini-brains, and the new eugenics: all these topics are utterly fascinating on one hand and demand a stance from everyone on the other. A bonus: a real legal case proposing the division of embryos during divorce using 19th-century laws.

This kind of theatre attempts to engage analysis through emotion. In London, it has proven effective for both children and adults, a testament to the nine years of experience Ilya has brought with his performances here.

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