I really love Fokine’s Pétrouchka. In my opinion it’s a brilliant ballet. For me it was important to retain the thread of the production created back in 1911, but also not to repeat it – to borrow some things from it, but to reinvent them for the present day, to find cultural codes, to cast out nets to bring in today’s audiences.
In his memoirs, Fokine mentions the idea that Pétrouchka is a puppet turned inside-out. I have tried to develop that idea. If you turn a person inside-out then all the organs are on the outside, all of the nerves are revealed, and even the most feather-light touch will be perceived as unbearable pain. That is how the character of Pétrouchka has developed.
For us, Pétrouchka is a person hunted by the collective, his talent lies in the fact that he senses things more deeply than others. A lonely soul, an individuality, who comes face to face with a crowd. He thinks about the concept of free will: does his own choice actually exist, or has everything been preordained and he is just a character with a role already written?
The plot of the ballet unfolds in Pétrouchka’s consciousness, represented in the form of a phantasmagorical circus. At the will of the creator, the servants of the stage resolve the destiny of the protagonist, and they embody the events that occur. Each evening before a packed house the unhappy Pétrouchka must perform this unhappy plot, and – in his case, relive the nightmare.
Should the audience associate themselves with Pétrouchka? No, first and foremost the audience must examine themselves from the side. But whom will they find there – perhaps they might empathise with the Moor, or perhaps with the abominable dwarves, who torture Pétrouchka?