‘GRANDDAD PIKHTO, WHO ARE YOU?’
Each country has its own strange fairy-tale creatures living in the forests, the fields, and in the mountains. In English forests elves hide in the trees, trolls live in the Scandinavian mountains, and Shuroley is up to his tricks in the Hungarian woods. And in Russia, in the distant Siberian taiga, there lives the Summertime Chief of the Forests, Granddad Pikhto.
Granddad Pikhto knows everything and can do everything. He upholds the laws of the forest, he knows the character of each and every tree, he knows how every blade of grass and every berry grows, and he can help any animal or bird.
The only thing Granddad Pikhto doesn’t know is what happens in the forests in the winter. This is because Granddad Pikhto sleeps through the whole winter, just like a bear. Two of his granddaughters, Older and Younger, hibernate with him. These granddaughters cause Granddad Pikhto no end of trouble, they are naughty, poke their noses in everything, make things untidy, they are noisy, and are very fond of confusing the people gathering mushrooms and berries in the forest. They are altogether very fond of causing confusion.
And then one day, quite unexpectedly and by chance Granddad Pikhto and his granddaughters wake up – in winter!
Roles – 16
“THE OLD MAN’S DAUGHTER”
This play is a ritual game, in which the fairy-tale ‘The old man’s daughter’ is acted out. This story of the relationship between a step-mother and her daughter who is not her own, can be found in the traditions of many peoples. Ilembi, which, translated from Chuvash, means ‘beautiful girl’, puts up with all the insults from her step-mother Parchagan, so as not to upset her father. When she is abandoned in the forest, Ilembi finds a way to communicate with the forest spirits, helps the birds, who give her presents and lead her back to the road home. The step-mother’s own daughter, Usalbi, which means ‘wicked girl’, finds herself in exactly the same circumstances, and is punished for her indifference to nature. At the end of the play the witch Iie, who lives in an old bath-house, punishes Parchagan and her daughter for all the evil things they have done by turning them into old crooked trees, but she turns Ilembi into a beautiful bride.
Male roles – 1
Female roles – 3
Fairy-tale characters – 4
THE WHITE WIZARD
A Winter Fairytale
You don’t need to be very clever to steal the White Wizard’s hat of tempests, especially since the shape-shifting monster has many different faces, like all evil things. But to take control of nature and people you need the powers of a witch, and no ordinary witch at that – she is the granddaughter of Baba Yaga herself.
Without his hat the White Wizard’s hair stands on end, which causes a terrible blizzard and the onset of a ferocious winter. But Zabava, the White Wizard’s granddaughter and her devoted friend the knight Dobrynia foil the villains’ evil plans by returning the hat to its ownder and saving the world from certain destruction.
In order to do this it is very important to work out at the right time in the fairy-tale which is the knight and which is the shape-shifting monster, and to tell the difference between friendship and treachery, love and selfishness, and so on. In fact, it’s just like real life.
Male roles — 3
Female roles — 2
Baba Yaga, out of spite, wants to stop the New Year from happening. She secretly persuades Autumn not to come to the forest. And if there is no autumn, there can be no winter! The animals of the forest are in a state of panic: the Rabbit and Squirrels can’t change their summer coats for winter ones, the Bear can’t go to sleep, and the Scarecrow can’t turn into a snowman. When the Snow Maiden arrives in the forest she has to find out the reason why nothing in the forest is as it should be, and prepares the forest for the arrival of Grandfather Frost, and for a proper New Year’s celebration.
Roles – 12
“AN EVENING WITH ANGELS”
The characters in the play are young people of today. All of them have their own interests, their own ideas about the world around them, though these ideas are sometimes rather naďve. And, of course, they want to grow up as quickly as possible, to try out and experience everything. But the feelings that they think are ‘grown up’ often look more like a game. That is why two friends, Maksimushkin and Mukhin, turn their quarrel over a girl into a proper duel with pistols, based on the duel fought by the great Russian poet Lermontov.
The author uses an unusual theatrical device by having the boys’ Guardian Angels present on stage throughout the action. The Angels look just like ordinary people, perhaps a little like school teachers. They have their own disagreements as well, and argue over what has the most influence on the behaviour of their charges: the hormones raging through their bodies, or their awakening emotions.
At the end of the play the boys learn the meaning of loyalty and treachery, and discover where true friendship and love are to be found. In turn, the Angels realise that their charges have grown up, and don’t need looking after any more.
Male roles – 5
Female roles – 9
Translations into English by
Dr Katharine Hodgson
School of Modern Languages
University of Exeter