The actor chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in Cheek by Jowl’s production of The Knight of the Burning Pestle at the Barbican.

Credit: Johan Persson

Hi Kirill – could you explain a bit more about the story behind The Knight of the Burning Pestle? This show is about an emergency situation at the theatre – it’s an unusual occurrence both for the actors and for the audience.

What can we expect from Cheek by Jowl’s production? In this show the audience suddenly becomes one of the participants of the show. So the audience should be prepared to accept the new rules and join in.

How are you finding working with the rest of the cast and director Declan Donnellan? When I was a student at the Moscow Art Theatre School, I heard many stories from my teachers and great actors who were lucky enough to have worked with Declan Donnellan. They were telling us how he works with actors. And just a few years after I graduated, I suddenly found myself part of the ‘Moscow family’ of Declan and Nick. In The Knight of the Burning Pestle my character gets to beat up Andrei Kuzichev’s character, who happens to be my pedagogue and the one who first introduced me to Declan Donnellan’s way of working with actors! It’s true bliss to be part of Declan’s ensemble, because we all really feel part of something in which we are all together. We are truly a team. We have no language barriers because Declan understands actors on a deeper level and to understand what Declan wants from you, it’s enough just to make eye contact.

Could you tell me a bit more about your character Jasper? Not only do I play Jasper, a character in TheLondon Merchant, but also an actor of the company who plays Jasper. Jasper is the part of a young hero troubled with youth problems. And he matures and turns into a man during the piece. There is such a range of actors who would be suitable to play the part of a young lover that of course we couldn’t avoid certain clichés especially since the genre of the play makes it possible for us to laugh at those.

What are you most looking forward to about bringing the production to London? I have never been to London. Of course, I mainly want the audience to give the show a warm welcome. But personally, I want to drink a cup of proper English tea, that’s my dream.

By Emma Clarendon

The Knight of the Burning Pestle will play at the Barbican from the 5th to the 8th June.

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