Who-Is-She: Aline Katran

It's always exciting to meet people relevant to art. The world of cinema, theatre and painting is an absolutely different dimension, co-existing with our reality. Still, the people of art are just like us: they speak our language, face the same problems and have the same feelings and emotions we do. An interview with Aline Katran, the actress of the KADART theatre in Saint-Petersburg was truly extrairdinary for us.No one will deny that the venue for talk plays its role in creating the special atmosphere for it. The House of Actor in the Nevsky Prospect - is there a more convenient place for interviewing an actor? Empty hall. Old stage. The artist's room where Marlene Dietrich used to tidy her hair before the performance and snow outside, covering the legendarry Nevsky Prospect...

 Is theatre currently your professional activity or just a hobby?
— To my mind, the verge is relative in this case. We have loads of blockheads with employment record books and ladies snatching large sums of money by selling watering cans with decoupage. My life has always been like a patchwork blanket: there was never a typical scheme like ‘school — university — career’ but some kind of higgledy-piggledy. At the moment 3 things make my occupation: radio, theatre and studies.

 It means theatre helps you make your living? Or is it non-profitable activity for you?
— If we’re lucky — I earn something. As actors we have no roof over our heads — we always have to rent a stage to perform there. If the rent is repaid we rejoice and share our gain. Certainly, it cheers all of us up, for we always put our own money into different kinds of preparations: costumes, decorations, provisions and assistance, that’s why it’s always double pleasure to walk out of the theatre with asters in hands and piasters in pockets.
—  How is your theatre called?
— The KADART theatre. The troupe of free troubadours. It has a backbone formed in 2009 with new people joining in regularly. We have gathered in order to do what we like, but KADART gave us more knowledge. The principal one is that there will always be people who move in the same direction as you, and it is wonderful! We found ourselves in hopeless situations from time to time but kept on moving and were rewarded for our stubbornness. I admire people we’ve met on our way — they were ready to draw decorations on end, to go to the flea market in order to get an oil stove or a pince-nez, ready to give up their job for rehearsals, to lug an old iron pre-revolutionary bed on their backs after the performance. The main thing here is to love and believe in what you’re doing, even if you don’t earn a single penny for it. There’s something real and free in it. Yes, we have no governmental status, no grants and stability. On the other hand, it gives us freedom to choose any play we want to set and to work on it the way we want to. We can always come and say: ‘Hey, guys, what if we TRY THIS?’ And we try this. And out trial will be fresh and innovative. For me, not the result but the process is more important.
 Who is responsible for organization issues in your theatre? We mean the one who looks for stages to rent, who makes playbills etc.
— Now that’s a sore point for us! We share duties like these. For instance, I’m responsible for playbills. Once I rummaged among six big boxes with postcards in an antique shop to find an ideal old lady for the‘Furious Oldies’ playbill. At the same time the director of the performance cut and sewed the dress of out Frau Wirtz played by Rustam Slaschinin, and Rustam, in his turn, went into  the Nevsky Prospect wearing it and invited people to the premiere of our performance. Our shows are the result of our collective work. Unfortunately we’re still unlucky with administrators, though we really need such people — enthusiasm is a good and devoted friend who, nevertheless, misses many important things.

 Do you set every performance on a different stage?
— That’s too luxurious! The performance is being rehearsed where we have an opportunity to do it and then we look for a stage to rent. For example, our performance ‘Wertiler’ with many decorations was set in 2 theatres — Baltiysky Dom and Ostrov; a more space-saving ‘Furious Oldies’ were brought to Moscow Maly Drama Theatre, while ‘SEXTETT’ was shown on the stage of Stanislavsky House of Actor and Erarta Museum of Modern Art. I think it’s great to change stages. It’s like landing on a desert island, where you can explore, discover and master something new.
 How did theatre come into your life? What was your life like before it?
— Before theatre I was full of tears and hang-ups. Still, it always attracted me. We used to set naïve performances at school — gouache on whatman paper, grandfather’s hats, school performance halls — that’s where it all began for me. I learned everything I could, little by little, from different places and people, but I don’t have a diploma in acting. Nevertheless, I think it’s not the reason to fly the track, is it? We live once, so if you like to do something — do it! Sweat, bend over backwards, study to death — but do it! No one can teach you a skill but yourself.
 Which actors, playwrights or movie directors inspire you?
— It’s people in general who inspire me. You may come across such characters in the streets — terrific! I’m inspired by my friend who’s bringing her son alone without complaining, and he’s growing into a real man! I’m inspired by my mom who managed to return to Lenfilm after a great 20-year pause and to occupy her place there. My friends who daily master the art of being themselves are my big inspiration. My husband, who teaches me to live not only on holidays inspires me. Even my cat Luca, despite being 10 times smaller than me, never retreats in a household battle.
I also get my inspiration when watching Oleg Menschikov’s performance ‘The Players’ which is lively and joyful as champagne splashes. I’ve been to the premiere of the ‘MKAD’ performance — it’s not an academic theatre, but a very sincere and real one. I get my inspiration in sympathizing the characters.
But Maly Drama Theatre is the place I come to most often for this purpose. And to the Planetarium also — strictly recommend this venue!

 Many theatre actors dream of playing a part in a film. Do you have such ambitions?
— Sure, it’d be wonderful! The cinema is a very interesting, complex and massive sphere of art. But I wouldn’t make a radical cinema-or-theatre choice — they are too different. The cinema is instant mobilization, it concerns the shot, the 30-times repetition of a cue for close- or long-distance takes. For me it feels like a big mess and dependence on wires, trucks and kilowatts. Theatre is lively and real, you can touch it, it is always changing like mercury. It is momentary — you cannot record or fix it but see it here and now. All this makes theatre magical and powerful. That’s why you should certainly master the art of acting in theatric walls and ‘mount amusement rides’ — as Eisenstein said — in the cinema. There you’ll jump with the parachute, dive into the slime and leave your trace in the history for ever.

 What interests you besides theatre?
— French and, lately, history. I study at the French University College. There I gain lots of knowledge at every lecture, that’s why afterwards, at home, I print packs of paper with information about revolutions, William the Conqueror, church reforms, trying to take it all in. I like that ‘Wikipedia principle’ when you catch on a fact or a name when reading about something, you dive into it and read on rill you get tired. There’s no point in swotting up facts, but it’s interesting to thread it little by little inside my brain. The things is not to let you laziness take over, There’s also a book in anatomy on my table, so maybe one day I’ll go into that topic too.
 How are you going to put in practice all the knowledge you gained there?
 I’m studying French literature and history and it will be difficult to put them in practice literally. And afterwards, I have no goal set — the process is more important. It results in fewer disappointments and more surprises. Everything I’m doing at the moment is valuable for me even now. I’m trying to live for the day, not to jibber-jabber all the time waiting for big luck to come. Every time I see the ambulance flying by with squeal, I realize how much we should be grateful that it’s flying not to your family and friends.

A classic question for all actors: which role would toy loke to play most of all?
 Pierrot. White face, arched eyebrows, a tear on the cheek and long sleeves. I would love to play this part I think there's a great deal of Pierrot in me.
 Petersburg is your hometown...
— Leningrad!

 You like this name more?
— The point is, I was born in Leningrad. Still I like ‘Saint-Petersburg’ more. I’m for the old look of the city, for all those poor blown-up churches. Do you know that there was the beautiful Znamenskaya Church on the place where you can see the hall of Ploschad Vosstaniya subway station? The airy Greek Church stood was replaced by the ugly Oktyabrskiy Big Concert Hall. The Bolsheviks and the war destroyed more than 40 churches and it has greatly changed the look of the city. I love to walk down the city streets, look at the houses reshaped and imagine there used to be a balcony or a bay-window. I love to stroll down the paved roads and walk into front doors of the houses. I’m always glad when I see that the fireplaces there are not filled with rubbish. One of my friends who loves antique things always says: ‘I didn’t pick this thing from rubbish — I SAVED IT!’ He has saved such a thing recently — an old oak screen with colorful vitrages and silk wings.

 Do you sometimes imagine your life in an absolutely different place but Petersburg?
— You know, I like to imagine my life if ifs and ands were pots and pans. I have a dream of moving to a small town where house walls are twined by ivy, where gardens are full of peonies, where the sea is shining in the sun, the mountains make holes in the clouds and cats sit on the pavements screwing up their eyes. Nevertheless, I think I haven’t grown up completely for that — I want to visit all the possible places, see all the possible sights, but I hope one day I will move to the place that’s like I have described.

 Your favourite colour?
— Turquoise.

 Your favourite dish?
— I’m still ready to give all I have for some chicken and mashed potatoes.

 What do you like most in yourself?
— My childishness. It helps me not to get tired and depressed.

 What would you like to change in yourself?
— I’ve always been envious towards people with blue-eyes. Of course I’m not going to repaint mine, but, perhaps, my children will have blue eyes. We’ll see to that.

 Where would you prefer to die?
— No matter where — I wouldn’t like to be alone then.

 With whom of the living people would you like to get acquainted?
— With Bono, of course!

— Tea or chicory?
— Tea with bergamot and milk. Though chicory is also tasty — in tins, from childhood.

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