Andrei Stadnikov with Vanya Bowden, Shifra Kazhdan, and Dmitry Vlasik

Chow Down! (2019)

Andrei Stadnikov’s new play explores the relationship between food and political power. The starting point of this surreal staging that straddles the boundary between theater and contemporary art is a macabre episode in recent history when Russia introduced so-called countersanctions on produce from the EU. Using ready-made text fragments, Stadnikov’s play allows the audience to witness a cabinet meeting during which the decision was made to destroy EU produce that had illegally entered the country, a resolution widely perceived as verging on sacrilegious in light of Russia’s long history of famine. Stadnikov then imagines the same at the country's recently deceased leader’s wake, where pathos-laden funeral speeches accompany ritualized gluttony and are interrupted by ghostly lists of banned produce confiscated and destroyed at the border. A musical score based on lamentation—an integral element of mourning in many cultures—accentuates the narrative along with an arrangement of a workers’ funeral march, an excerpt from the famous Symphony of Factory Sirens (1922) by the Russian avant-garde composer Arseny Avraamov. Performed in the evocative location of a Brutalist church, Stadnikov’s play highlights the ritualistic, quasi-religious side of the politics of food, representing both the glory of the powerful and the desires of the hungry.

11.10.19, 12.10.19, 19:00

Duration: ca. 80 min.

Maria Verkündigungskirche
Am Rehgrund 2
8043 Graz
♿ Venue accessible for wheelchairs

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In English with German subtitles 

Free admission with Festival Pass
Capacity limited, reservation recommended, reservation fee: 2 Euro
Single ticket 16/12 Euro

Commissioned and produced by steirischer herbst ’19

Concept, text, director: Andrei Stadnikov 
Concept, stage: Shifra Kazhdan 
Concept, music: Dmitry Vlasik
Costumes: Vanya Bowden
Performance: Anton Kukushkin, Gladstone Makhib, Anastasia Pronina, Leonid Samorukov, and Anastasia Velikorodnaya
Production: Evgeniya Petrovskaya, Darya Verner 
Light: Anton Astakhov
Script translation from Russian to English: Thomas Campbell
Choir: Alexandru Cosarca, Margit Reif, Felix Scheuer, and Sarah Zelt
Surtitles: Martin Thomas Pesl

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Andrei Stadnikov (1988, Berdsk, Russia) is a playwright, theater director, and filmmaker. His plays combine choreographed performances, sound-art compositions, and ready-made text fragments from historical and contemporary sources displayed in constellations. One focus of his work is the troubled history of 20th-century Russia and the textual imaginary it has produced. Stadnikov lives in Moscow.

Vanya Bowden (1991, Tel Aviv) is a set and costume designer working in theater and film. A major interest in her work is the integration of theater and museum practices. Bowden lives in Moscow.

Shifra Kazhdan (1973, Moscow) is an artist working with text, video, and installation, who collaborates regularly with theater groups. Gender fluidity and queer sexuality in the post-Soviet era are a focus of her work. Kazhdan lives in Moscow.

Dmitry Vlasik (1982, Moscow) is a musical performer and composer with a background in percussion and experimental music. He frequently collaborates on theater productions. Vlasik lives in Moscow.