Andrei Stadnikov with Vanya Bowden, Shifra Kazhdan, and Dmitry Vlasik
Chow Down!

Performance / Commissioned work


Duration: ca. 80 min.

Maria Verkündigungskirche

Production specifics
Commissioned and produced by steirischer herbst ’19

Andrei Stadnikov’s new play explores the relationship between food and political power. The starting point of this surreal staging that straddles the boundary between theater and contemporary art is a macabre episode in recent history when Russia introduced so-called countersanctions on produce from the EU. Using ready-made text fragments, Stadnikov’s play allows the audience to witness a cabinet meeting during which the decision was made to destroy EU produce that had illegally entered the country, a resolution widely perceived as verging on sacrilegious in light of Russia’s long history of famine. Stadnikov then imagines the same at the country's recently deceased leader’s wake, where pathos-laden funeral speeches accompany ritualized gluttony and are interrupted by ghostly lists of banned produce confiscated and destroyed at the border. A musical score based on lamentation—an integral element of mourning in many cultures—accentuates the narrative along with an arrangement of a workers’ funeral march, an excerpt from the famous Symphony of Factory Sirens (1922) by the Russian avant-garde composer Arseny Avraamov. Performed in the evocative location of a Brutalist church, Stadnikov’s play highlights the ritualistic, quasi-religious side of the politics of food, representing both the glory of the powerful and the desires of the hungry.

Concept, text, director: Andrei Stadnikov 
Concept, stage: Shifra Kazhdan 
Concept, music: Dmitry Vlasik
Costumes: Vanya Bowden
Performance: Anton Kukushkin, Gladstone Makhib, Anastasia Pronina, Leonid Samorukov, and Anastasia Velikorodnaya
Production: Evgeniya Petrovskaya, Darya Verner 
Light: Anton Astakhov
Script translation from Russian to English: Thomas Campbell
Choir: Alexandru Cosarca, Margit Reif, Felix Scheuer, and Sarah Zelt
Surtitles: Martin Thomas Pesl