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Star-studded line-up for nationwide Master and Margarita read-a-thon

November 11, 2016, 20:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Politicians, actors, athletes and entrepreneurs are participating in the reading of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel "Master and Margarita. I was there."

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Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinskiy is taking part in the reading

Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinskiy is taking part in the reading

© Alexander Scherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, November 11. /TASS/. The mass on-line reading of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel "Master and Margarita. I was there." is underway in Russia. Politicians, actors, athletes and entrepreneurs are participating in the project.

"We did not have a dress rehearsal, all this is taking place live, before your eyes," said project curator Fekla Tolstaya.

There are three locations in Moscow, as well as reading sites in St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok and Tel Aviv, Israel.

The project is set to run until November 12, 10 pm Moscow Time.

The reading is dedicated to the 125th anniversary of Bulgakov’s birth. Master and Margarita is considered quite mystical and is one of his best known and most quoted novels.

Among the line-up of readers scheduled to participate are head of Sberbank German Gref, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinskiy, Bulgakov Museum Director Peter Mansilla Cruz, Olympic Champion figure skater Maxim Trankov, and head of Russia’s Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina.

Head of the Moscow Art Theater school Igor Zolotovitskiy launched the reading, with the famous Patriarch Ponds scene, just hours after playing Berlioz in the MHAT production of the performance.

"I think that these projects aimed at promoting classics are more than noble. A person who has read Tolstoy, Chekhov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Bulgakov will not participate in nastiness, that’s what I think," Zolotovitskiy said.

This is the third online reading project in Russia, in which Google assists in the reading of classic Russian authors. In 2014, there was a reading of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Chekhov-Live, a reading of various works written by Anton Chekhov in 2015.

"I think Bulgakov himself would treat this reading with a lot of irony, I think he’d have a witty, biting response. Or maybe he’d be proud of himself," said actor Nikolai Chindyaikin, who plays Pontius Pilate in the Moscow Art Theater production of Master and Margarita. The actor is participating in the online reading for the first time and ponders whether the project will reach the masses.

"At first glance, the name of the author and the title is actively mentioned and that’s important in our virtual world, for globalizing the brand, but I don’t know what it will do for humanity as a whole," he said.

The Russian movie studio, Mosfilm, is a partner in the reading. "People are reading less and less," said Head of the Mosfilm, Karen Shakhnazarov. "This project just might convince young people to pick up a book and I am glad that we can somehow participate in it. Just maybe, a new art form is born before our very eyes, at the crossroads of cinema, reading and the internet.

Yet, director of the Mikhail Bulgakov State Museum Peter Mansilla-Cruz, who also took part in the reading on Friday, says that from his experience, everything that’s done about Bulgakov has a tremendous public response. "When you see people spending a lot of time and energy to read a novel, it sets a good example. A lot of people during this reading marathon, muse over the book and the author and it makes them want to read it again," Mansilla-Cruz said.

A unique aspect of the project is the use of video technology with 360 degree coverage. It will give those who’ve come to listen an opportunity to be a part of Satan’s Ball due to the use of chroma keying special effects, thus the full title of the project - Master and Margarita. I was there. You can follow the reading at - https://masterimargarita.withgoogle.com/.

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