Answers, Questions and Meanings of Mahamaya Electronic Devices: director Ivan Vyrypayev talks about his new production in London

29.01.2024Ksenia Batyshkina

Ivan Vyrypayev's Mahamaya Electronic Devices will premiere in London in February. The director himself told ZIMA about his play and its deep meanings, as well as his plans for the future and the work of the Teal House Foundation.

Creative “franchise”

When the war broke out, we organized the Teal House Foundation in Warsaw, which began to help artists in difficult situations – victims of political repression or those who were forced to immigrate to another country. A distinctive feature of the acting profession is that much of it involves language proficiency. Our foundation helps artists – mostly cultural workers from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia – to integrate into international theater activities, giving them opportunities to realize, earn and adapt in a new place. That is where the value and importance of our cause lies.

One of the first performances to be staged as part of Teal House was precisely Mahamaya Electronic Devices. We made several language versions of this play: in Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian. The Lithuanian and Estonian versions are ahead. It is a universal format and text that can be reworked for any country, involving artists speaking completely different languages in the performance – a kind of creative “franchise”. That’s how the idea for the project came about.

Photographer: Alex Lenyashin

We are now starting rehearsals for Mahamaya Electronic Devices in London, in English with English actors. This version of the play will become a reference – a base into which further creative “edits” will be made. After its premiere, we plan to embark on an international series of European tours.

The London stage (traditional for this production) will feature 4 actors, all of whom live and work in the British capital. The premiere is scheduled for February 22, and the main and important partner, sponsor and co-producer is our Polish platform Teal Platform – an educational project, with which we not only have similar names, but also a perfect match with each other’s themes and values. Plus, I am one of the founders of this project.

After the first show on February 22, of course, we plan to play the plays in London for a while, as well as do a tour of England and after that a big tour of the United States. For the audience, the task is as simple as possible – come and see a production created entirely by our Teal House team.

“Each successive answer begs a new question.”

Mahamaya Electronic Devices is a performance-adventure. The format is both simple and intense at the same time. For a whole hour, 4 actors will be asking and answering popular questions at a very fast pace under electronic music and video graphics (there will be a big screen behind the actors). These questions and answers deal with all topics of human existence – sex, politics, abortion, forgiveness, clamps, drugs, war, sports, the soul – and the meaning of life in general.

Photographer: Alex Lenyashin

At a certain point, the viewer begins to realize that it is impossible to get answers to absolutely all questions through logic, as each next answer generates a new question, and this chain can be endless. A new level of worldview is only possible beyond words – as a total awareness of self.

Mahamaya Electronic Devices is a modern product on the subject of realizing one’s own meaning under a kind of psychological influence, the main trick of which is carefully selected questions.

The production has no age limit, and our audiences have been and probably will be completely different from each other. Regardless of age, wealth, cultural or social status, you can see some of them crying during the performance because they are having some very personal experience.

Future plans

Our next year will be dedicated to touring and doing big tours in the US and Europe. And besides Mahamaya Electronic Devices, there are several other projects planned ahead: we are in search of new ways to integrate actors into performances, trying to find some kind of cross-lingual format that will allow us to play in any language and understand in any language.

For a while I “fell out” of work with classical theater, but the more the Teal House Foundation gets back on its feet, the more time I have for new work – for example, I am currently working on a production of Molière’s Don Juan commissioned by a French theater.

Despite the different opportunities to realize personal potential, we still don’t have the right to live as usual while the war is going on, and most of my time is devoted to the Teal House Foundation.

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