THE MAIN DRAMA THEATER: AN ACTOR HAS TO LEARN FROM THE FIRST TO THE LAST ROLE
Actors find their ways into acting on stage differently: some start dreaming of it in their early childhood; others embark on the career spontaneously, due to circumstances. Sokhbet Serbazov, an actor of the Main Drama Theater of Turkmenistan definitely belongs in the latter category.
Sokhbet’s father, Orazgeldy Serbazov, had worked at the Mollanepes Academic Drama Theater for many years, and then at the Main Drama Theater… But Sokhbet had no wish to follow in his father’s footsteps. After completing his military service and yet not having made his choice of career, Sokhbet landed a job as a stagehand and later, as a lighting technician at the Main Drama Theater. Back then, something happened that shaped his destiny.
– I have always had a good memory, Sokhbet tells. I was often present at rehearsals and memorized lines from plays automatically. Once during a rest interval, I stepped on stage on the spur of the moment and recited the monologue of Jelalledin from the stage play “Synmaz Erk”. Although on my part it was a joke, my monologue earned enthusiastic applause from the actors. “You should apply for admission to the Institute of Culture as soon as possible; probably, you still have time”, they advised. I did manage to apply to the Institute, but I failed to receive the passing score on my admission examination. I felt uneasy to return to the Theater after my failure.
Luckily for me, the admission procedure for the studio school of the A. S. Pushkin State Russian Drama Theater was still underway, and that was the way out of that situation. Perhaps, clutching at a straw in despair, I was reciting my monologues from the Main Theater’s repertoire so stirringly in front of the Admission Board that I was accepted. After finishing the studio school, I was sent by the Ministry of Education to study at the Chelyabinsk State Academy of Culture and Arts (CSACA). In 2013, I finally returned to the Main Theater qualified as a director of theater productions and mass participation events, an acting coach. Kakajan Ashirov looked at me carefully and said: “You will do well as a jeune premier or a social hero” and employed me as an actor.
This gave me hope that I would secure lead roles in stage plays, and naturally, I felt inspired. At that time, the Theater started to stage a production of “Gerogly” and I was offered the role of a guard. But it was not the role I had expected. Although I had to play the character with very few lines to speak, Kakajan Ashirovich rehearsed with me on stage step by step. “Be natural on stage and keep in mind the concepts of Shchepkin and Stanislavsky”, he reminded. Notably, he behaved as though he had not been in a dominant position and we were just working together on the role. I guess he did so to help me not to lose my confidence. And I realized that the Chelyabinsk State Academy was not the last place in my life where I had learned something. Now, I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from People’s Artist of Turkmenistan Kakajan Ashirov.
I have played diverse roles: Sukhanberdy in “The Bird of Happiness”, the abductor in “Kasym Soydi”, Khemra in “Bagyt Kenary”, Balkan in “Pervan”, Rovan in “Rovan”, Annaguly in “If You Love Me”, one of the neighbors named Artyk in “Effendi and the Funny Neighbor” based on the stories about Khoja Nasreddin. And every role seemed to be a real test of competence and the suitability for the work at the Main Theater. Today, the Theater is putting on a new production of “Love of Oguz”, and I have the lead role of Beyrek.
I have begun to better understand my father, who is sadly gone now. I recollected his anxious anticipation before parts were cast to actors, his emotions before a performance and the absolute authority of his profession in our family. I married a staff member (not an actress) of the Main Theater, and soon afterwards I became a father of three: two daughters and a son. I named my son Orazgeldy after my father, and if he decides to pursue a career in acting, I will be glad about this.
In last year’s June I was sent from our country to receive training at the International Summer Theater School of the Union of Theater Workers in Moscow. It was a very interesting experience and a useful exchange of expertise by fellow actors from 30 countries. The students were young, and each of them represented their drama schools. We were assigned to write a script for a play on the topic of “The Old Testament”, to design costumes and scenery, and to choose music, in other words, to stage the production from A to Z. We successfully put on the play entitled “The Super Book” that opened with the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible. The training at the Theater School helped to expand my understanding of every actor’s capacity and ability. At the same time, I realized that a good actor always has something new to learn – even for the last role.
Strangely, when I go to the theater I cannot be just a mere spectator. I always catch myself analyzing actors’ performance and stage presence, their gestures and speaking style rather than watching the story unfold on stage. Unwittingly, I imagine how I would portray this or that character, trying to be natural and realistic.
It appears that theater runs in my blood…