The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

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Шарманка (Sharmanka) is the Russian word for hurdy-gurdy. It is also the name of a mechanical theatre founded in Saint-Petersburg in 1989 and based in Glasgow (Scotland) since 1996.

Eduard Bersudsky (°1939, Leningrad) is a self-taught visionary artist. He started carving in his late 20-s, while making a modest living with various jobs. In 1974 he found a job in the city’s park department to carve giant figures out of fallen trees for children playgrounds. At the same time he began producing kinemats - kinetic sculptures driven by electrical motors and controlled by electro mechanical devices, incorporating pieces of old furniture, metal scrap and grotesque carved figures.

In 1988 he met Tatyana Jakovskaya (°1947), a theatre critic and director. Together they founded the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre which opened in Saint-Petersburg in 1990. Various kinemats were supported with music, light and shadow play. Sergey Jakovsky (°1980), joined Sharmanka at the age of 13 and gradually became responsible for the light and sound design.

In 1993, some of Sharmanka’s exhibits were acquired by the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art and the team was invited to perform a show at the local McLellan Galleries. They decided to stay in Glasgow and opened the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre on Trongate 103 in 1996.

There are no human performers in these performances. The creations are the ticking, ringing, spinning and whirring stars of the show as an exploration of our perceptions of live theatre, as well as an exhibition of craftsmanship. There is no apparent need for human intervention. Seated in an auditorium and armed with a pair of binoculars, the audience watches the sculptures move into life, each accompanied by a folk song, a classical medley or merely haunting sound effects. One of the installations is an interpretation of The Master and Margarita.

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre
Trongate 103
Glasgow G15HD

Tel. +44 (0)141 552 70 80

Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 - 17:00, Sunday 12:00 - 17:00

Click here to watch a part of the show

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