In the year marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the Belgrade Theatre and Citizens Theatre are bringing to the stage an adaptation of Faithful Ruslan – The Story of a Guard Dog, based on the cult novel by Georgi Vladimov and directed by Helena Kaut-Howson.
1953, Josef Stalin is dead, and the inhabitants of prison camps across Russia are liberated. Ruslan is a beautiful, proud dog, bred solely to serve as a guard in these camps, but when he’s abandoned in a world without the clear structure and organisation he’s always known, how can he possibly adjust?
Telling its story through the eyes of an innocent dog, this powerful new stage adaptation of Georgi Vladimov’s cult novel is like a modern Animal Farm, and is a gripping allegory for the disorientation of post-revolution Russia. It also relates to any situation where unquestioning loyalty to an idea or a cause threatens to plunge our world into chaos.
Director Helena Kaut-Howson said, “Ruslan is a proud and loyal dog bred and trained to serve according to particular rules. He finds it impossible to adapt when the terms of service become obsolete. This is a tragic fate shared by many who were betrayed by the changing winds of history. The beauty of the story is that it’s told from the perspective of the dog, with compassion and humour.”
She added, “Today it speaks not only as an indictment of the atrocities of the gulag but also as a warning. The tragic fate of a prison guard dog, stripped of his purpose, struggling and unable to find his place once the camp is shut, reminds us of the devastating effects that sudden change can have on society.”
A master director of European drama, this will be Kaut-Howson’s third production for the Belgrade Theatre, following her innovative adaptations of Chekhov plays, Sons Without Fathers and Uncle Vanya. She has spent over 40 years directing theatre in the UK and Europe, for leading theatres including the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.
Faithful Ruslan – The Story of a Guard Dog will bring together an internationally renowned creative team including the Olivier-award winner and Complicité co-founder Marcello Magni, as Movement Director, Paweł Dobrzycki as Designer and Boleslaw Rawski as Composer.
Performed by an ensemble of thirteen actors, the cast includes Isabelle Joss, best-known as the leading actress in the Icelandic thriller movie, Pale Star. She is joined by Mark Jax (Sons Without Fathers, Belgrade Theatre); Vinta Morgan (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theatre Royal Bath and Dreamland for Arcola); Michael Moreland (The Roaring Girl, The White Devil and The Witch of Edmonton, RSC); Tilda O’Grady (Othello, Shakespeare’s Globe); Martin Donaghy (Anything That Gives Off Light, National Theatre of Scotland); Camrie Palmer (Blackbird and Rapunzel, Citizens Theatre); Paweł Zdun (The Miser, Royal Exchange) and Ewan Somers (Travels With My Aunt, Citizens Theatre). Completing the ensemble is Max Keeble, Hunter Bishop, Sinead Starkey and Nicolas Ralph.
Making its world premiere in the Belgrade’s B2 auditorium, Faithful Ruslan – The Story of a Guard Dog also celebrates 10 years since this intimate and flexible theatre space was built onto the original 1958 building. Since opening, B2 has housed a variety of world class drama by some of the country’s leading writers and directors.
Faithful Ruslan – The Story of a Guard Dog runs on the Main Stage from Sat 2 – Sat 16 Sept. Tickets are priced at £13 & £15.50 and are available from the Belgrade Box Office on 024 7655 3055 or via the Belgrade Theatre website at www.belgrade.co.uk