Director and actor Volodymyr Zavalniuk will stage Salome, based on Oscar Wilde’s play, in cooperation with scenic designer Natalia Chepenko, casting skomorokh (Slavic folk harlequin) actors Hanna Yaremchuk, Olha Bulkina, Iryna Bibik, Kyrylo Bulkin, and Andrii Popkov.
Salome was tetrarch Herod Antipas’s stepdaughter who had him seduced by performing the Dance of the Seven Veils. To the dismay of her stepfather and her mother Herodias’s delight, she asked to bring her the head of the prophet Jokanaan (biblical John the Baptist) on a silver platter as a reward. Let us recall that Wilde’s interpretation of the biblical story caused a scandal in England, prompting a long-standing ban on staging Salome in the UK since it was illegal to show Biblical characters on stage.
The Transformation Theater is using a synthesis of various systems: the classical theater, vertep (Ukrainian folk puppet theater), shadow theater, masque and Japanese Kabuki theater. This synthesis is playing with symbols, allowing each of them to live out its own story, and so creating a phantasmagoric version of Salome with transforming scenery, costumes and characters. The director has assured us that the audience would not get to see any violent scenes or Jokanaan’s head severed on the beautiful girl’s request, but the viewer would still feel it happening (one actor will play two mutually exclusive roles of Herod and Jokanaan). Salome is attractive and repulsive at the same time. She cannot be called vicious, because she is equally ignorant of vice and virtue. She exists outside the concepts of morality, immersed in the power of passion. The young princess’s only idol is beauty that can be found in the love, pleasure, violence and even in the death.