For the 60-th anniversary

Bakhodir Yuldashev was 28 years old when he was appointed chief producer of the Khamza academic theatre in 1974. The people used to say that he was the youngest chief among all “academicians” of the former Union. Today he has almost 70 different productions behind himself in different theaters of the country.

If the value of a piece of art grows with time, it is ranked as classical. Can it be referred to the theatre – the short-term art that as we know exists only “here, today and at present”? The answer seems to be yes, if our judgment is to be based on B.Yuldashev’s creative work. Some of his plays can be today referred to the classics of the Uzbek theatre. There is always something new to be added while speaking about his best ones staged long ago.

He has been much talked and written about since the beginning of his activity. He began boldly and at full speed without any acceleration. The first performances of the recent graduate from the producer’s department of the Tashkent Theatrical Institute brought him both into debates and, at the same time, unanimous recognition of the extraordinary gifted producer. A. Dumas’ melodrama “Nelskaya Tower”, “Beruni”, a historical tragedy by Uigun, psychological drama “From evening till noon” by V.Rozov are diametrically opposite performances in which the young producer was testing his force and ‘probed’ traditions and capacities of the theatre. And finally, like a bolt from the blue there came out the youth’s performance of “The Robbers” based on the Schiller’s drama that seemed to be a monstrous encroachment on the academic traditions of the oldest theatre. The producer applied techniques of the theatre of brutality and elements of vanguard stylistics. The spectator had seen the world of robbery and violence where at the background of white and loose overalls slit for eyes, the son was trampling down his sick father lying in the bed; where the “noble” robbers were performing ritual dances, yelled wild songs perched on the cart with the squeaking wheels.

B.Yuldashev’s creativity seemed to brightly reveal in “The Robbers” not only his desire for decisive renewal of means of theatrical expressiveness but also his inborn character of the theatrical reformer. It is worth remembering the staging date of the performance – 1974. It is worth doing it because in ten years only he will leave the Khamza theatre.

Then years make up the magic figure for the theatre. K.Stanislavsky thought it was the limit requiring crucial renewal of the creative program. Peter Brook insists that “Hamlet” should be staged anew every ten years. Quite independently from each other the greatest producers of the century asserted that in the end of this period the society and aesthetic principles of the art are changing so much that the artist has to respond them. Producer’s practices and uncommon artistic intuition has been bringing Bakhodir Yuldashev to this conclusion every ten years.

B.Yuldashev’s first ten-year cycle fells on the Khamza theatre. Here, among others, he stages performances that have to a great extent changed the ‘face’ of this theatre. In the “Revolt of the Daughters-in-law” by S. Akhmad presenting the style of ironical aloofness he combined comedy of everyday life with the playful traditional rhythmic. The “feeling of war” marks B. Vasilyev’s performance “He was not on the list”. The director placed spectators on the stage, and this proximity excluded any possibility of falsity of playing. “Living Corpse” by L. Tolstoy became the most “Russian” and most original concerning imaginary solution of all Russian classical performances in the Uzbek theatre. Finally, in the first half of the 80th, B. Yuldashev stages the historic dilogy – performances “Zebunisso” by Uigun and “Starlit Night” by P.Kadyrov – that have anticipated the historical boom in the Uzbek culture at the threshold of the 90th.

In all named and non-named performances he remained to be a consistent follower of bright theatricality and sharply dynamic form. In contrast to the traditional inclination of the Uzbek theatre to academic philocentrism, B.Yuldashev strives to take theatrical art out beyond customary prosaic narration, asserts the right of the theatre to independent interpretations, variety of stylistic and genre solutions on the stage. Twice during this decade he was going to stage “Hamlet”. But he yet did not dare to do this. Like later on he did not dare to do this when he left Khamza theatre and became the art director of the A.Khidoyatov theatre.

B.Yuldashev’s retreat from Khamza theatre caused by both creative and personal reasons, brought in the split and demarcation of this theatre. Following their chief half of the troupe moved to the A.Khidoyatov theatre. Consequently, this deed by B.Yuldashev has greatly influenced upon the Republican theatrical life because of both significance of the Khamza theatre for Uzbekistan culture and scope of the personality of B.Yuldashev himself. If earlier the theatrical process focused on the creativity of the actors from the Khamza theatre, now it is shifted and centers on the renovated theatre named after A.Khidoyatov, and later on the other theatres and theatrical studios. There emerged the situation of creative competition that has been favored by the times of perestroika. Therefore, B. Yuldashev’s resignation can be regarded as an indicative action foreseeing perestroika in the theatrical area as well.

Neither in press nor orally B.Yuldashev has ever expounded a more or less structured creative program. He does not like to go into detail while speaking about his vision and understanding of nature and esthetic of modern Uzbek theatre. But today, from time distance it is well seen how precise was the intuition of the great actor during the first decade of his work with the A.Khidoyatov theatre

In “The Tricks of Maisara” staged by Khamza he stylized traditions of the folk Uzbek theatre of maskharabozs (maskers). In this bright and spectacular performance freely improvised by the theatre not only on the stage, but in the streets and squares, B.Yuldashev has widely open the doors into an entire trend in modern Uzbek theatre that reminds of itself even today. Simultaneously, he closed the entrance door for himself – he had never made any more stage versions on the topic of the Uzbek traditional theatre. It is characteristic of B.Yuldashev not to return to anything studied, generously, sometimes extravagantly without “saving” for a rainy day, build up the performance applying maximum of the selected expressive means. And then, after “exhausting the topic” for him, step aside letting others in through the doors opened by him.

This can be hardly treated as the heat of the discoverer. Here we see other, more deep and complicated feelings and intentions. Here is one of the major and most important impulses of his creativity – consistent sorting out relations between modern stage and various traditions. In the performances staged by the Khamza theatre these were traditions and stereotypes of academism and pure theatrical traditions of maskharabozs in “Maisara”. In the next staging of “Iskander” following the plot of Navoi’s poem he has been concerned with the entire complex of the richest traditions of the artistic heritage of the Uzbek people. The European symphony and Uzbek classical makoms, Byzantine mosaics and Eastern architecture have organically merged in the “stage chorale”; unexpectedly modern sounding has been attached to the “dialogue through centuries” between Alisher Navoi and Alexander the Great…

Compatibility of cultural national traditions with the universal Western values, overcoming of emotional distance between the peoples of different cultures, wish to turn the stage into a zone of cultural symbiosis of the East and the West make up the actual topicality of today’s culture of Uzbekistan that has been brightly stated out in the performances staged by B.Yuldashev on the threshold of the 80th – 90th years that has been unlikely assessed in full that time.

Deep love to cultural traditions of the nation, steadfast interest towards sustainability of these traditions in every component of modern performance continued in the performances of the 90th years.

Keeping on experiments B. Yuldashev transfers the action and the characters of the play written by the French playwright J. Saraan “Mamura” (theatrical version – “Mamura Kampir”) onto contemporary Uzbek land. After this orientation to the Western drama shall become one of the important and artistically fruitful trends on the Uzbek stage. He has tested the opportunities to reveal national traditions in modern technological settings in the adapted for stage areal performances dedicated to Independence Day and “Nauruz”. B.Yuldashev has also staged the first samples of these festivals that turned out to become canonical.

At the same time he continues his searches for the synthesis of the century-old spiritual culture with the figurativeness of the modern stage. Peculiar sensitivity towards the richest traditions of national music, literature, fine arts, and architecture, towards the entire complex of traditional artistic culture has been revealed in the performance “The Great Silk Road”. By means of the fine arts, music, plastic and light the director synthesizes images of the countries of the Medieval East.

Finally, in the performance “Sudkhur” he looks for the ways to return ethnography, folklore, and national way of life and different rituals to the stage. Tragicomic events and people’s fates sunk into oblivion have been disclosed through the stylistics of the folklore theatre. Stage action has been organically interlaced with folk songs and dances characterized by coloring and peculiarities of ancient Bukhara musical folklore. A bit later the searches started by him turned into one of the notable trends of modern Uzbek stage.

Of course, the director himself has not formulated his ideas and intentions. He has been doing his work – staging performances. The necessity to regard these performances today not only as facts-of-art but also as an important component of the cultural process, once again testifies for the strength and anticipatory character of the artistic intuition of Bakhodir Yuldashev.

Searches of new ideas and expressive means, permanent experiments with the form of the performance, the so-called “staging activity” of director’s handwriting have never ousted actor’s identity in B.Yuldashev’s performances. He loves and knows how to work with the actors. It is not in vain that the best roles have been played in his performances by both the oldest actors like N.Rakhimov and Z.Sadrieva, and the young ones like A.Rafikov, E.Nasirov, Kh.Nurmatov, S.Yunusova and many, many others.

Surprisingly much has been done, and no less has remained just in the dreams. He has not managed, for example, to establish a theatrical faculty with its own experimental theatre at the university. He has fully rebuilt the stage and the auditorium of the A.Khidoyatov theatre, but the unique project of the theatre in the open air remained unfinished. Traces of the commenced construction of this theatre forethought in the antique tradition can be seen even today when passing from Samarkand to a nice town of Kattakurgan, the native town of Bakhodir Yuldashev where he came into the world in the autumn of 1945.

As for dreams and hopes, they will come true, according to all parameters he must enter the new cycle of his creativity.

Ildar Mukhtarov