Reminding us of the horrors of the past while challenging humanity’s ability to fall victim to the repetition of self-destruction and hate, ‘Destroy Solzhenitsyn‘ evokes contemplation about the role of the past in the future.
Experiencing Solzhenitsyn’s post-Soviet life in the United States, the audience was confronted with the lasting impact of Stalin’s labour camps on the human soul. Furthermore, the work delved into the nuances of the struggle Solzhenitsyn experienced in both his personal life and in his interactions with society at large.
The scene in which Solzhenitsyn was challenged by a young woman — a woman representative of today’s generation of young adults — was especially confronting. She questions his role in history and whether or not any of his thoughts, ideas, or writings will live on after his death. As an individual of the generation portrayed, I was moved by this scene, calling into question what is valued by my peers. Stalin’s Soviet empire is already in many ways fading into the pages of books and losing its direct connection to the world, especially outside of Russia and former Soviet States. ‘Destroy Solzhenitsyn’ forced a sense of urgency on me — an urgency to read, to learn, to discuss the most uncomfortable moments of history, so that history might influence society for the positive, rather than being forgotten.
I found the show’s directness detracted from the effectiveness of the story. The audience was deprived of crossing over to the emotional for themselves after being guided by the narrative. It felt like the show was explicitly telling the audience what to feel and think. However, the intent of the work to inspire conversation and explore society through the lens of history is valuable.
‘Destroy Solzhenitsyn’ left me questioning how tight the reigns of capitalism are around my neck. The work reminded us that either blind support or cowardly conformity can break down society — regardless of whether the catalyst is communism, capitalism, or something else entirely.
Hannah Rundman, originally from Michigan, USA, is an arts manager and lover of art that break the mold of established mediums. She values eye contact and art that brings diverse groups of people together.