“You’re a great man, sire! Forgive me for my licentiousness — you are a giant!”

We asked the priests to talk about the books that made the strongest impression, maybe something changed their lives. A topical play, which almost closed the theater “Contemporary”, preaching Christianity and quotes from the gospel of his beloved writer says Archpriest Alexander Ilyashenko.

A scene from the play “the Naked king” E. Schwartz. The “Sovremennik”Theatre

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Archpriest Alexander Ilyashenko

It was a year in the sixties. I clearly remember my older brother is a student of Moscow state University – brought home a collection of plays by Eugene Schwartz. A thick book he read in one sitting and was so excited that the whole evening was what got the pleasure of sparkling humor and brilliant satirical gift of the author. Not surprisingly, followed by Schwarz and I read. By the way, this collection was at that time the most complete collection of the dramatic works of this great playwright and writer.

In the same year on behalf of Oleg Efremov Margarita Mikaelyan set in the contemporary “the Naked king”. The play, written by Schwarz in 1934, never never put. A brilliant Comedy fearlessly mocked the stupidity, cowardice, groveling, groveling before power, which was personified swaggering and incompetent king, in fact endured strict court of human baseness, vulgarity and meanness. The cast was absolutely stellar, I played the best actors of the theater: Eugene Evstigneev Igor Kvasha in the lead roles, the rest – almost all of the troupe “Contemporary”. The piece sounded so topical and modern, that after the premiere theater almost closed. No matter what, the show there was a rather long, almost twenty years, it was removed when collapsed structure.

The power of play by Schwarz can be compared with the classics of the XIX century, for example, “Woe from wit” Griboyedov, which was dismantled for quotes. To our minds came the ironic title “the kettle”. I think it goes back to the remark of Mayor wannabe idiot:

Burgomaster. Congratulations, I have a slight obsession. (Abuts one arm to the side, the other bends gracefully.) I the kettle and brew me! (Dragon).


The king. Hey, you there! The chopping block, the executioner and a shot of vodka. Vodka for me, the rest of him. Now!” (An ordinary miracle).

Yes to recall the brilliant dialogue of the king and first Minister of the play “the Naked king”:

The first Minister: Your Majesty! You know I’m a honest man, old man straight. Let me tell you straight, roughly, like an old man: you’re a great man, sire!

The king (he was very pleased): well, Well! Why, why!

The first Minister: No. I am not to fight… Forgive me for my licentiousness — you are a giant! Sun!..

Eugene Schwartz lived in very difficult times: revolution, civil war, repression, the struggle with faith and Church, the Great Patriotic war. The repression affected many people close to him. As Schwartz was not afraid to speak the truth in those terrible years, and he openly protested against the significant shortcomings of the system? How and why he was not arrested for these revelations, for this well-aimed satire? One can say: Thank God! Schwartz actually found a form, such allegorical language, that the fault was not what. “The tale tells not to hide, but in order to open, say in full force, in a loud voice what I think”.

Relatively recently I read Leonid Panteleyev memories of Schwartz. He told how, together with Gregory White (they had just handed over the manuscript of his “Republic SHKID” in the national Department of education) went to the editorial office of child and youth literature of the state publishing house. The editorial office was on Nevsky prospect, in the former home of the singer.

And here’s young writers up to the fifth floor and all of a sudden I see that meet them cheerfully stomp on all fours two adult uncles “one pinevalley, curly, other tonality, handsome, smoothly on well-combed side parting hair.” Stunned they miss the odd couple, but these four-legged stop and ask how I can be useful and who the young men are looking for. Those timidly answer that Oleynikova and Schwartz. Then first the first and then second raise to shake hands “right front paw”. It turned out that “portraying camels”, these two talented people rested from work.

Thanks to these memories, the image of the writer, whom I truly loved, for me it was more open. Cheerful, bright, indefatigable. That Schwartz was a man of faith, Leonid Panteleev wrote in the book of memories “I Believe”. This, of course, very important, but for our family especially important is the fact that Evgeny Shvarts was a spiritual child of my now deceased father-in-law, Archpriest Eugene Ambartsumova. The knowledge that Schwartz was a faithful Orthodox Christian allows appreciates his talent, moral sense and courage and to realize that his works are much deeper than they seem on the surface.

That Schwartz had a serious theological education clearly, though unseen, is evident in his fabulous works. In “the Emperor’s new clothes” “honest” man, the Minister inadvertently said to the king, he did not believe in miracles.

A scene from the theatre performance “the Contemporary” “the Naked king”

King: What? Don’t believe in miracles? Near the throne the man who does not believe in miracles? Yes you are a materialist! I’m in the dungeon! Insolent!

The first Minister: Your Majesty! Let me tell you as an old man chided. You not listening to me. I wanted to say: I don’t believe in miracles, says the fool in his heart. This madman does not believe, and we only a miracle kept!

These last words are a direct quote from the book of Psalms: “Reche mad in his heart there is no God” (PS. 13:1). And here I am, rereading Schwartz, was in his works to detect allusions to Scripture, lives of the saints, for direct quotes.

In the play “drakon”, for example, one of the most vile anti – heroes- the Mayor, meeting with the knight Lancelot, shouting to him: “Glory to thee, glory, Hosanna, victorious!” To which he answers: “it may well be. This is my distant cousin“. And how skillfully Schwartz draws the image of Lancelot – selfless and courageous knight willing to die to save people from the oppressive power of the mighty, and the terrible three-headed Dragon, whose scales are so strong that “a diamond does not take”.

By the way, this play Schwartz began to write in the siege of Leningrad, graduated from evacuation in 1943. It was considered anti-fascist pamphlet, Yes, in another way then it was impossible, but it is much more than just a political pamphlet. This is a profound philosophical parable, not only about the baseness and nobleness, cowardice and selfless courage, greed and selflessness, it’s about what really matters: the struggle between good and evil within the individual.

The mouth of the Dragon, Schwartz says that sin does to man’s soul:

“I, my dear, personally crippled. As required, and crippled. Human souls, kind, very tenacious. Cut the body in half – the person will be dead. And the soul will break – will be obedient. No, no, these souls will never pick up. Only in my city. Soul armless, legless souls, deaf souls, chained souls, pointing souls, damned souls. Do you know why the Mayor is pretending to be insane? To hide what he did, and no soul. Leaky souls, corrupt souls, hardened souls, dead souls”.

After defeating the Dragon, Lancelot realizes that this is not enough. It turns out that “the Work will be small. Worse embroidery. Each of them will have to kill the dragon.” Schwartz refers to these words of the Gospel: “the Kingdom of God nudits”. To “slay the dragon” in the soul requires a continuous, monotonous labor, “the worst of embroidery”, and the result is reached not at once. They say that some high-ranking person questioned that “Dragon” is only about fascism. Here, the play did not come out on the stage.

In his plays Schwartz is talking about Christianity unobtrusive, but that his words become high sermon:

“Yes, Yes, exactly. So I die not in vain. Good-Bye, Elsa. I knew that I will love you my whole life… Just never believed that would end life so soon. Good-bye, city, bye, morning, afternoon, evening. That night came! Hey you! Death is calling, hurry… my Mind is getting in the way… something… something I did not finish… Hey you! Don’t be afraid. It can be – not to offend widows and orphans. Regret each other is also possible. Don’t be afraid! Spare each other. Spare – and you will be happy! I swear it’s the truth, the whole truth, the truth, which is on the ground. That’s all. And I’m leaving. Goodbye.”

The meaning of these words is enhanced by the fact that mortally wounded Lancelot utters them by speaking directly to the audience. Schwartz had in his soul high light the ideal, he was able to create descriptive, rich language, which allowed him implicitly, but to speak directly about what he thought was a Shrine of his conscience.

Eugene Schwartz

What Schwartz calls the ideal, really is. What makes fun – deserves to be ridiculed. He speaks of the evils and sin is sin, and sin is always ugly and sometimes funny.

Sinful man miserable, because he himself humiliates his unworthy actions. But ridiculing the vices, Schwartz does not tolerate Vice in the person. He would have every right to himself to say the words of Pushkin, “and I’m feeling good lyre awakening”. He awakened these feelings in 30-50 – the terrible years of the XX century, when few would have anything to say, especially openly. His humor is amazingly clear, lively, sparkling, unexpected. He’s one of those authors who have the ability to inspire optimism and joy.

Remember, in Pushkin’s “Mozart and Salieri”:

“Listen, brother,Salieri,
As black thoughts come to you,
Just do a bottle of champagne
Il reread “the Marriage of Figaro.”

But this recipe can be considered universal! If you feel bad, take the product that provides you a warm and joyful experience. For me, this is the author – Eugene Schwartz.

Recorded Darya Rowena

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