Chekhov named after Wagner – The Moscow Times Russian Service

Let’s agree that I am not trying to justify or condemn anyone, that I do not have a recipe for how someone should have acted in this particular situation. I made my choice: last fall, I myself quit the institute where I had worked since 1994, because I left the country. Good or bad this choice, but it is mine, and other people have other circumstances and other decisions. I respect their right to choose, even if I don’t agree with it myself.

And how does it happen?

But what is going on in various institutions of the Russian Federation? Here is some Deed, a good, important deed. For example, a theater, or a hospital, or a school, or a university – it doesn’t even matter what. This business has its own Leader, who sincerely worries about him. He has Employees, and they have a common vision of the goal, many years of experience, their own Mission. And finally, there are the People for whom this Case was created: patients in the hospital, spectators in the theater, students in the school, etc.

And now comes from one chief, higher, a directive to another chief, lower: to identify protest moods in the area under his jurisdiction and take action. And the lower boss, having studied social networks or some kind of intelligence data, notices: Enemies and Traitors dug in in such and such a subordinate place. He, perhaps, personally has nothing against them, but he must report on the struggle!

And then they call, write, and sometimes they come from where they need to to the Head and say: look, the Enemies have been revealed. Do you understand what needs to be done to save the Fatherland and for their own good? And then, you know, the UK can get involved, initiate a case … and in general, we thought you had a healthy team, so you submitted an application for a grant, so we were going to allocate funding …

And the Leader makes the decision. Not for his own sake, but for the sake of the Cause, for the sake of his Employees, their Mission, for the sake of the People he serves. Difficult decision. But what else is left for him? He was forced. He did not want. It’s not him. Or is he?

Shared Responsibility

One of the features of the current RF system is that the sheep generally tend to themselves. This system has been built and fine-tuned over the years: all these grants, incentive payments, and all that, lead to a situation where not just an individual performer depends on the official at the top – the whole Business depends on him. Whether or not a theater or a school will be merged with another similar institution that will provide funding to the institute – all this depends entirely on successful reporting, which, of course, is very easy to adjust to the current expectations of the authorities. And in the part that does not contradict these expectations – complete freedom of action. And you can put on wonderful performances, give excellent lectures, treat people at the highest level, until the oxygen is cut off. At the same time, you can even take a little liberties, as if elegantly hinting at … Every month there are less and less such opportunities, but the Thing is more important, right?

And if you refuse to follow the guidelines, you will be removed from the post of Leader. No, for politics, what are you … there are, for example, violations in financial reporting (with the highest degree of bureaucratization, finding them in any living Cause is a matter of desire), and here you are instead of a Cause of life – a criminal case. And the new leader (with a small letter) will be some blockhead from the personnel reserve of the ruling party, he will ruin this Business in three months, not even out of malice, but simply from complete unsuitability. Look, they have a whole line of such blockheads in the list!

What should the Leader do, how not to follow valuable instructions? Not him, so others will fulfill them. And it’s not about money and not about honors – the Head of a big, real Cause, as a rule, has plenty of both. The point is in the Deed itself, in the Mission, in the People and Employees. Let them all down – or fire just a couple? And then another C grade … and a fiver … And the team will diligently keep silent, and at best four will answer the farewell letter of thirty people, and the sign will be removed, and the link will be removed from the site on the same day as the order is signed. After all, it’s a matter. After all, the Mission. For the sake of the Greater Good!

And so the Chekhov Theater begins to turn into the Wagner Theater. But not immediately? But isn’t it final? But maybe it’ll work out somehow?

Where is the exit?

Looking back at my own decisions over “all these eight years”, I am immensely glad for only one thing: that I did not become any Leader and now I am free from such a choice. And I have absolutely nothing to say to those who stood before him today or will rise tomorrow.

I will remark in the margins that a country in which, in order to preserve the Cause, it is necessary to make a deal with conscience, is doomed to lag behind. The recently published book by Maria Buras “Linguists who came from the cold” tells in detail about this using the example of the science of linguistics. It so happened that in the sixties in the USSR, a country with one and a half hundred languages, advanced linguistic science arose at the highest level. It arose, and … someone signed the wrong letter, someone said something wrong at a lecture, someone did not see eye to eye with the party committee. In general, some left, others changed the direction of work, others learned to keep their mouths shut. And, for example, in the field of computer translation today it is not Russia that is leading at all – but it could be the leader.

It is difficult to run cross-country when you have a champing swamp under your feet.

And one more small remark. Actors are quite ordinary people. But it can be difficult for them to get out of the role, they are very dependent on our opinion. But if someone played the role of a knight without fear and reproach, or an inveterate villain, in life he remained the same as he was. One should not make him a measure of public conscience, one should not expect heroic deeds from him. Believe me, you can admire acting talent – and at the same time know that a person is far from perfect. I have been backstage at the Moscow Art Theater since early childhood. Chekhov (my father served there) and saw it with my own eyes.

And yet, you can disagree with a person’s choice – and at the same time not despise him for this choice, understand how difficult it is. I have no idea what I would do today in the place of the Head. That’s why I’m not the leader, I guess.

There’s only one thing I’m sure of. As long as people agree to play by these rules, the rules of the game will not change.

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