New American Plays for Russia

STATUS UPDATE: Nine ( NOV. 30, 2011)

Things have happened so quickly following the presentation of readings in St. Petersburg that a new update is in order. Here is a list of plays that Russian theaters have expressed a desire to stage. Confirmation will follow when contracts are signed with agents, but I would like to believe that no serious obstacles will arise in the negotiation process.

  • Chuck Mee's Big Love, translated by Sergei Task, will be staged by Georgy Tsnobiladze at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg, probably in Spring 2012. 

  • Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days, adapted by Nina Belenitskaya from a translation by Alexandra Belenitskaya, will be staged by Ricardo Marin at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg, probably in Spring 2012. 

  • Suzan-Lori Parks's The Book of Grace, adapted by Yury Klavdiev from a translation by Maria Nikolaeva, will be kept in repertory at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg as a reading staged by Denis Shibaev, beginning approximately January 2012.

  • Annie Baker's The Aliens, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, will be staged by American-based Romanian director Adrian Giurgia, at the Contemporary Play School in Moscow. Expected premiere date: the end of January 2012. 

  • Annie Baker's The Aliens, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, will be staged by Ksenia Zorina at the Fifth Theater in Omsk. Expected premiere date: February or March 2012.

Other potential productions are under discussion at several theaters in various cities. Information will be posted on this page when it is available.   

STATUS UPDATE: EIGHT ( NOV. 28, 2011 – replaces interim update from NOV. 18)

Major presentations of the New American Plays for Russia project took place in Moscow (Nov. 21 and 22) and St. Petersburg (Nov. 25, 26 and 27). Annie Baker was in Russia to attend both events. (Here is a short video of Annie talking about the experience.) Eric Bogosian participated in a talk back in St. Petersburg by way of Skype, thanks to the generosity of the American consulate in St. Petersburg. Michael J. Hurley, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, and the man who made this project possible by giving it a generous grant under the auspices of the American-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission, attended the first day of readings in Moscow.

Thanks to a creative approach suggested by Olga Galakhova at the Playwright and Director Center in Moscow the readings there were all directed by Americans living in Russia. These included actors (Adam Muskin, Odin Lund Biron), a professor of dramaturgy (Robyn Quick) and a translator/critic (myself). So enthusiastic was the response that the Playwright and Director Center has already begun scheduling a reprise of the event that will include some repeat readings and some readings of plays not included the first time around. This will probably happen in Spring 2012.

The event in St. Petersburg was embedded in an international scholarly conference, organized by the St. Petersburg Theater Academy, that looked at the history and development of American drama in the 20th and 21st century. Conference speakers included Irina Tsimbal (“Children and Grandchildren of George P. Baker”), Yulia Kleiman (“Experiments of Eugene O’Neill”), Anna Shulgat (“Confessions of the Non-Indifferent Person: The Plays of Eric Bogosian”), Vera Shamina (“The Poetics of Afro-American Female Drama [The Influence of Jazz Aesthetics]”), David M. White (“Telling the American Story: American Playwrights in the 21st Century”), Erik Ramsey (“A Brief Overview of the Training and Cutting Edge Development Systems for Playwrights and Plays in the United States”) and many others. The St. Petersburg readings were the first to include all seven plays in the project. All readings were rehearsed and performed at the fabulous new ON.TEATR, a venue created to give young directors, actors and writers a place to try out their ideas and stretch their talent. A superficial and not-always reliable preview of the event can be read here

I do not wish to get ahead of events, but I have the distinct impression that we might well see numerous full productions in both cities. It would be premature to name titles, but I would not be surprised soon to see two productions in Moscow, while St. Petersburg might host as many as three. This is in addition to the officially agreed production of Annie Baker’s The Aliens at the Contemporary Play School in Moscow, which is scheduled to open in January 2012 as directed by Adrian Giurgia. We are also a hair’s breadth away from seeing a contract signed for The Aliens at the Fifth Theater in Omsk, where the first readings took place a month ago.
 

For the record I repeat that we are close to confirming presentations in Yekaterinburg, Saratov (May 2012), Sakhalin (September 2012) and Tomsk. Negotiations with other cities are ongoing.

Find below full information about each reading in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

MOSCOW, PLAYWRIGHT AND DIRECTOR CENTER, “New American Plays for Russia” mini-festival, November 21-22, 2011.

The Aliens by Annie Baker, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, was given a staged reading directed by Adam Muskin on Nov. 21. Annie Baker was in attendance and she took part in a discussion of the play, and her work in general, following the reading. The cast was:

  • KJ – Anton Feoktistov

  • Jasper – Igor Teplov

  • Evan – Igor Bychkov

Talk Radio by Eric Bogosian, adapted by Ivan Vyrypaev from a translation by Anna Shulgat, was given a staged reading directed by Odin Lund Biron on Nov. 21. The cast was:

  • Barry Champlain - Mitya Zolotov

  • Various roles - Alisa Estrina

  • Various roles – Alexander Kashcheev

  • Stu - Odin Lund Biron (from the sound booth)

Go here to see a small gallery of photos of the readings held Nov. 21.    

Nocturne by Adam Rapp, adapted by Maksym Kurochkin from a translation by John Freedman, was given a staged reading directed and acted by John Freedman on Nov. 22.

The Book of Grace by Suzan-Lori Parks, adapted by Yury Klavdiev from a translation by Maria Nikolaeva, was given a staged reading directed by Robyn Quick on Nov. 22. The cast was:

  • Vet – Vladimir Bolshov

  • Grace – Agrippina Steklova

  • Buddy - Mikhail Troinik

  • Reading the stage directions - Anton Kapanin

ST. PETERSBURG, ON.TEATR, November 25 – 27, 2011, as part of the international “American Drama: New Discoveries” conference hosted by the St. Petersburg Theater Academy. 

Talk Radio by Eric Bogosian, adapted by Ivan Vyrypaev from a translation by Anna Shulgat, was given a staged reading directed by Semyon Serzin on Nov. 25. Later in the evening, Eric Bogisian joined the conference participants from his home in New York for an hour-long discussion by skype hosted by the American consulate in St. Petersburg. The cast consisted of the following actors:

  • Filipp Dyachkov, Anton Shamanida, Kirill Varaksa, Alexsei Mitin, Yevgeny Serzin, Semyon Serzin, Very Paranicheva, Nadezhda Tolubeeva, Alessandra Guintini.

Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz, translated by Yevgeny Kazachkov, was given a staged reading directed by Yekaterina Maksimova on Nov. 25. The cast consisted of the following actors: 

  • Oksana Kormishina, Albina Moskovtseva, Artur Yagubov, Margarita Olendskaya, Leonid Taranov, Yegor Grishin, Antonio Villani, Sultan Kanaev.

Go here to see a small gallery of photos of the readings held Nov. 25.

End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer, adapted by Nina Belenitskaya from a translation by Alexandra Belenitskaya, was given a staged reading directed by Ricardo Marin on Nov. 26. The cast consisted of the following actors:

  • Maria Antonova, Maria Shulga, Yevgeny Serzin, Filipp Mogilnitsky, Danila Kalybin.

The Aliens by Annie Baker, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, was given a staged reading directed by Maria Kritskaya on Nov. 26. Annie Baker was in attendance and she took part in a discussion of the play, and her work in general, following the reading. The cast was:

  • KJ – Sergei Malakhov

  • Jasper – Konstantin Dunaevsky

  • Evan – Yegor Kutenkov

Go here to see a small gallery of photos of the readings held Nov. 26.

The Book of Grace by Suzan-Lori Parks, adapted by Yury Klavdiev from a translation by Maria Nikolaeva, was given a staged reading directed by Denis Shibaev on Nov. 27. The cast was: 

Vet – Yury Yershov
Grace - Nadezhda Kulakova
Buddy - Pyotr Papanin

Big Love by Chuck Mee, translated by Sergei Task, was given a staged reading directed by Georgy Tsnobiladze on Nov. 27. The cast was:

  • Lidia – Inna Stapanova

  • Olympia – Yekaterina Zorina

  • Fiona – Yekaterina Kleopina

  • Bella/Eleonora – Yelena Solomonova

  • Piero/Leo – Leonid Taranov

  • Guiliano – Andrei Gorbachev

  • Konstantin – Dmitry Lugovkin

  • Ed – Alexander Bykovsky

  • Nikos – Daniil Mukhin

Nocturne by Adam Rapp, adapted by Maksym Kurochkin from a translation by John Freedman, was given a staged reading directed and acted by Dmitry Volkostrelov on Nov. 27​.

STATUS UPDATE: FOUR (SEPT. 2011)

September 6, 2011

Stage Four of the project has now been completed. All seven translations are in hand and are being prepared for readings throughout Russia during the 2011-2012 season, as well as for nationwide distribution on compact disks that are handy and easily accessible for theater artists.

  • Sergei Task translated Chuck Mee's Big Love.

  • Yevgeny Kazachkov translated Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics.

  • Nina Belenitskaya, working from Alexandra Belenitskaya’s line-by-line translation, translated Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days.

  • Yury Klavdiev, working from Maria Nikolaeva’s line-by-line translation, translated Suzan-Lori Parks's The Book of Grace.

  • Mikhail Durnenkov, working from Yekaterina Raikova’s line-by-line, translated Annie Baker's The Aliens.

  • Ivan Vyrypaev, working from Anna Shulgat’s line-by-line, translated Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio.

  • Maksym Kurochkin, working on a basic text devised during face-to-face sessions with John Freedman, translated Adam Rapp's Nocturne.

The first public readings will take place at the Festival of Young Theaters of Russia in Omsk, Oct. 22 to 30. Next will be readings in Moscow at the Playwright and Director Center on Nov. 22 and 23. In St. Petersburg the influential new On.Teatr, in collaboration with the St. Petersburg State Academy of Theater Arts, will conduct readings from Nov. 25 to 27 as part of a parallel international conference on contemporary American drama. We are currently negotiating readings in Krasnoyarsk, Orlov, Saratov, Yekaterinburg, Tomsk and other cities. These will take place in the first half of 2012 when these cities and theaters host annual festivals in which our plays can make an organic contribution.

Some of our plays are being considered for inclusion in a program of new American drama in Russian hosted by the famous Russian-language Ilkhom Theater in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Furthermore, several Russian theaters have already expressed serious interest in staging the plays. This came about even before the translations were completed, based on the authority of the project, its writers and its translators.

Finally, we are happy to announce that Annie Baker will attend the readings in Moscow and St. Petersburg in November. This has come about thanks to additional funding provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding administered by CITD.

STATUS UPDATE: THREE (May 2011)
May 15, 2011

Stage Three of the project is now in full swing. All four of our line-by-line translators have delivered texts to our adapting playwrights. Two of the three translators who are creating straight Russian translations from the English have delivered final texts.

  • Sergei Task has translated Chuck Mee's Big Love.

  • Yevgeny Kazachkov has translated Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics.

  • Nina Belenitskaya is completing her translation of Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days.

  • Maria Nikolaeva delivered her line-by-line of Suzan-Lori Parks's The Book of Grace to Yury Klavdiev.

  • Yekaterina Raikova delivered her line-by-line of Annie Baker's The Aliens to Mikhail Durnenkov.

  • Anna Shulgat delivered her line-by-line of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio to Ivan Vyrypaev.

  • John Freedman is working on a live translation of Adam Rapp's Nocture with Maksym Kurochkin.

All translations shall be completed by early September, after which they will be presented at special readings and festivals in at least seven Russian cities. We already have commitments from the Festival of Young Theaters of Russia in Omsk, which runs from Oct. 22 to 30. We also have agreements with the Playwright and Director Center in Moscow and On.Teatr in St. Petersburg for late November. There is a good chance that the St. Petersburg State Academy of Theater Arts will join On.Teatr to conduct a parallel conference on contemporary American drama. We are currently negotiating readings in Krasnoyarsk, Orlov, Saratov, Yekaterinburg, Tomsk and other cities. Many of these readings will probably take place in the first half of 2012 when these cities and theaters host annual festivals in which our plays can make an organic contribution. 

STATUS UPDATE: TWO (Feb. 2011)

A Fact Sheet, February 7, 2011

We are happy to announce that the second major stage in the New American Plays for Russia project is complete.

The plays and playwrights, with the translators chosen to work on the texts, are as follows:

  • Suzan-Lori Parks, The Book of Grace – adaptation by Yury Klavdiev with Maria Nikolaeva 

  • Annie Baker, The Aliens – adaptation by Mikhail Durnenkov with Yekaterina Raikova 

  • Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio – adaptation by Ivan Vyrypaev with Anna Shulgat 

  • Adam Rapp, Nocturne – adaptation by Maksym Kurochkin with John Freedman

  • Chuck Mee, Big Love – straight translation by Sergei Task 

  • Deborah Zoe Laufer, End Days – straight translation by Nina Belenitskaya 

  • Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics – straight translation by Yevgeny Kazachkov

The seven plays listed reflect an improvement over our original plan of a two-tiered translation process that would have created eight literal, line-by-line translations, followed by four producible adaptations that would have emerged from that list of eight.

Instead, we will now create producible translations of seven plays.

Three plays will be translated directly by Russian playwrights who have a fluent command of English.

Four plays, because of their linguistic and structural complexity, require more than just a straight translation to do them justice. Major contemporary Russian playwrights, working from literal, line-by-line translations created by professional translators, will create new Russian adaptations of these four works. Please note that the playwrights and the translators will stick as closely as possible to the original.

All seven translations will be completed by September 2011 and will be included in a series of readings held in some seven or eight Russian cities throughout the coming fall. All translations will be included in a dual-language CD published by the Center for International Theater Development and distributed to theaters all over Russia for free. This non-commercial CD will include the seven Russian translations as well as all 23 of the original English texts that were nominated for consideration. We plan to publish the seven translations in a book that will be available to libraries, theaters and interested individuals.

Please note that the New American Plays for Russia initiative does not include provisions for productions. It is our hope and goal, that Russian theaters, once made aware of these plays through our program, will contact writers' agents, and productions will follow.

Also please note that the New American Plays for Russia initiative was not a competition. Russian readers, all of them theater professionals – dramaturgs, directors, critics, translators, playwrights – considered each play on the basis of its potential for reaching, and communicating with, a Russian audience in the current context of society and theater today in Russia. Many plays praised highly by readers were not recommended for translation because of cultural differences, language barriers or thematic concerns. 

The Translators:

• Yury Klavdiev will adapt Suzan-Lori Parks’ The Book of Grace from a literal translation by Maria Nikolaeva.

Klavdiev is one of Russia’s top playwrights and screenwriters. His plays have been produced throughout Russia, Europe and the United States. Films based on his screenplays have won awards at various European film festivals. His personal style is equal parts violent and poetic, and he has a spectacular ear for dialogue and conflict in action.

Nikolaeva is one of Moscow’s most sought-out interpreters. She has translated for numerous American film directors working in Moscow and has been Tom Stoppard’s translator in Moscow. She was the interpreter in October for the visit of the American partners in Moscow.

• Ivan Vyrypaev will adapt Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio from a literal translation by Anna Shulgat.

Vyrypaev is a major Russian playwright and screenwriter. His play Oxygen is a landmark of the so-called “New Russian Drama” and his works have been performed all over the world. He is a master of plays featuring several characters, but which are structured, in essence, like monologues.

Shulgat is a dramaturg, translator, theater critic and arts manager who has collaborated with the Likhachev Foundation, Azbooka Publishers, Vita Nova Publishers (St. Petersburg), and Martin E. Segal Theatre Center. She has published more than a hundred essays and articles on theatre and literature in Russia and abroad, as well as a dozen translated books.

• Maksym Kurochkin will adapt Adam Rapp’s Nocturne from a literal translation by John Freedman.

Kurochkin is acknowledged as one of the most inventive and powerful playwrights in Russia today. He is capable of writing expansive, large-stage works (Kitchen), small-stage experimental pieces (Vodka, Fucking and Television), subversive boulevard drama (Repress and Excite), and tongue-in-cheek, experimental works on futuristic themes (The Schooling of Bento Bonchev). Kurochkin is an inventor of language and structure and yet has the ability to reach large audiences at the same time.

Freedman is an author, translator, the theater critic of The Moscow Times and the Director of the New American Plays for Russia initiative.

• Mikhail Durnenkov will adapt Annie Baker’s The Aliens from a literal translation by Yekaterina Raikova.

Durnenkov, sometimes working with his brother Vyacheslav and sometimes working alone, is the author of over a dozen works that have had an appreciable impact on Russia drama in the last half-decade. His plays have been produced in numerous theaters in Moscow, including the Moscow Art Theater, and his play Drunks, written with his brother, was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2009.

Raikova is the primary interpreter at the Saratov Youth Theater, where she worked as a dramaturg on Sam Shepard’s The Curse of the Starving Class for Lee Breuer in 2010, and acted as Breuer’s personal translator during his 6 weeks of rehearsals.

• Sergei Task will translate Chuck Mee’s Big Love.

Task is a playwright and Russia’s premier translator from English into Russian, with dozens of plays and hit productions to his credit. He regularly translates film scripts for the Moscow International Film Festival. He is the founder of the WILL agency of drama in Moscow.

• Nina Belenitskaya will translate Deborah Zoe Laufer’s End Days.

Belenitskaya is one of the most interesting of the young Moscow playwrights. Her play 03 (Emergency) was staged at the prestigious Playwright and Director Center and she wrote dialogues for Vladimir Pankov’s popular production of Passageway at the same theater. Her play My God Pavlik, produced at the Joseph Beuys Theater in Moscow, was nominated for a Golden Mask award in 2011.

• Yevgeny Kazachkov will translate Nilo Cruz’s Anna in the Tropics.

Kazachkov is a young playwright and screenwriter who has attracted attention with his plays at the prestigious Lyubimovka young play festival. He was one of the collective of authors that created the play 1612, a joint Russian-Polish work that was performed at Teatr.doc in Moscow and Ad Spectores in Wroclaw. He is the instigator of Pecha Kucha Night events in Russia.

STATUS UPDATE: ONE (Nov. 2010)

My team of Russian readers is currently evaluating the plays that were nominated for the New American Plays for Russia initiative, which is funded by the U.S. embassy in Moscow under a grant from the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission and organized with the help of Philip Arnoult's Center for International Theatre Development. (See entries below for detailed information on the project.) Our readers in the first stage are:

     Pavel Rudnev, Translator, Art Director of the Meyerhold Center, Moscow

     Sergei Task, Playwright, Translator, Founder of the Will Agency, Moscow

     Natalya Druzhinina, Executive Director of the Real Theater Festival, Yekaterinburg

     Georg Genoux, director, founder of the Joseph Beuys Theater, Moscow

     Pavel Shishin, Literary Director of the Fifth Theater, Omsk

     Nikolai Pesochinsky, Docent, St. Petersburg Academy of Theater Arts; Provost, Academy of International Relations

     Yury Urnov, Director, Artist in Residence, Towson University

Almost  every writer invited to participate in the initiative responded by sending his or her play - or plays, as the case may be. Here is the final list of American plays (provided in the order that I received them) that are now under consideration for translation into Russian:

1 Darci Picoult, Lil's 90th 
2 Sarah Ruhl, Eurydice 
3 Suzan-Lori Parks, Book of Grace
4 Suzan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog
5 Gina Gionfriddo, After Ashley 
6 Chuck Mee, Big Love
7 Chuck Mee, True Love    
8 Adam Bock, The Receptionist 
9 Deborah Zoe Laufer, End Days
10 Rachel Axler, Smudge
11 Melissa James Gibson, Current Nobody
12 Caridad Svich, Instructions for Breathing
13 Lameece Issaq, Food and Fadwa
14 Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio 
15 Tracey Letts, Superior Donuts 
16 Edith Freni, Total Power Exchange
17 Lisa Kron, Well
18 Lisa Kron, In the Wake 
19 Lisa Kron, 2.5 
20 Nilo Cruz, Anna and the Tropics
21 Adam Rapp, Red Light Winter
22 Annie Baker, Circle. Mirror. Transformation.
23 Annie Baker, The Aliens

POST ONE
Basic information for New American Plays for Russia, supported by a generous grant from the U.S. Embassy, Moscow, under the auspices of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. 

The New American Plays for Russia project was conceived to develop quality Russian translations of contemporary American plays. Considering the deep respect for, and ongoing popularity of, theater and drama in Russia, and considering the profound interest that Russians have in contemporary American culture, this project will provide an important bridge between the two cultures. In a cultural form that is esteemed in Russia, this will provide for Russians insight into the rich diversity of voices, viewpoints, beliefs and cultures that make up American society today.

John Freedman, American author and critic, in collaboration with Philip Arnoult's Center for International Theater Development (CITD), will curate the program, which enlists the expertise of four of America's most prestigious play development organizations (The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, The Humana Festival of New American Plays, The Sundance Institute, and New York Theatre Workshop).

  • Stage One. Two dozen contemporary American plays are nominated for consideration by the four American play development organizations.

  • Stage Two. A Russian board, consisting of English-speakers, works with Freedman to select eight plays to be given literal (line-by-line) translations.

  • Stage Three. A larger board of Russian partners chooses four finalists from the eight literal translations. These four works, which shall be considered those most likely to reach a broad Russian audience, shall be fully translated and adapted by prominent Russian playwrights.

  • Stage Four. The finished adaptations/translations shall be published and distributed throughout Russia by CITD in electronic form (compact discs and the internet) and print media (a book). The four plays not chosen for adaptation/translation shall be made available to writers or theaters wishing to take on this task.

  • Stage Five. A series of festival readings in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Saratov, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok and Perm presents the works to key Russian partners in important cultural centers.

  • Work on the project began in the summer of 2010, and is expected to be concluded in fall 2011. 

U S    D E L E G A T I O N 

Jim Nicola, Artistic Director

New York Theatre Workshop

James C. Nicola has been the Artistic Director of New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) since 1988. Under his guidance, NYTW has remained steadfast to its founding commitment of nurturing both established and emerging theatre artists, promoting collaboration and bold experimentation with theatrical forms. Mr. Nicola initiated an extensive series of workshop opportunities including summer residencies and minority theatre artist fellowships, and has forged a unique community of theatre artists, the Usual Suspects, a group of writers, directors, designers and actors, who form the core of NYTW’s artist development activities. As Artistic Director, Mr. Nicola has been instrumental in the development of many NYTW world premieres, including Claudia Shear’s Blown Sideways Through Life and Dirty Blonde, Jonathan Larson’s Rent, Will Power’s The Seven, Ivo van Hove’s productions of Hedda Gabler and A Streetcar Named Desire, the American premieres of Caryl Churchill’s Mad ForestFar Away and A Number, Doug Wright’s Quills and Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul. Before joining NYTW, Mr. Nicola spent nine years at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., first as a National Endowment for the Arts Directing Fellow and later as a Producing Associate where he directed productions including Marsha Norman’s ’night Mother, Christopher Durang’s The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Emily Mann’s Still Life. From 1975 to 1980, Mr. Nicola was a Casting Coordinator for the New York Shakespeare Festival where he developed his continuing, passionate commitment to new voices in the theatre. Mr. Nicola’s other directing credits include Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury at the WPA Theatre, John Guare’s Landscape of the Body at the Studio Theatre, and Ernest Joselovitz’s Flesh Eaters and Jessie’s Land at the New Playwrights Theatre. Mr. Nicola fueled his love of theatre during the early 1970s when he was an Assistant Director at The Young Vic/National Theatre of Great Britain and an Assistant Stage Manager at London’s Royal Court Theatre, where he worked on Athol Fugard’s Boesman and Lena, the first time Fugard had been allowed out of South Africa. Mr. Nicola is a graduate of Tufts University.

.

Christopher Hibma, Associate Director

Sundance Institute Theatre Program

Christopher joined the Sundance Institute Theatre Program in the fall of 2005, and currently serves as its Associate Director. Christopher produces Theatre Labs in Florida, Wyoming and Utah and will create two new Labs in 2010 at MASS MoCA and on Governors Island in New York Harbor. His work has supported individual writers such as Annie Baker, Tracey Scott Wilson, Taylor Mac and David Adjmi as well as the creative teams of Spring Awakening, Passing Strange and Grey Gardens. He produces Sundance Institute East Africa, a multi-year program that supports theatre artists of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. In 2010, he produced a pilot Theatre Lab for East African theatre artists on the island of Manda off the Kenyan coast. He successfully negotiated Sundance Institute's first Actors’ Equity contract, administers its new commissioning program as well as Sundance Institute Pre- and Post-Lab Support programs.

Prior to the Sundance Institute, he served as the first Managing Director for Theater Latté Da, a Minneapolis-based theatre company. He also served as General Manager for the Minnesota Boychoir, a 50+ year tradition in the Twin Cities. He has produced a variety of events for other organizations such as the Minnesota Chorale and Youth Frontiers, Inc, a non-profit organization that teaches character education in schools. He has been on the directing staffs for Broadway’s The Lion King and numerous productions at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. At the Virginia Opera, Christopher assisted Lillian Groag on Wagner’s Die Walküre. He has also worked as a graphic designer for Marinan Design, a boutique design firm in the Twin Cities. Christopher has created video projections for Maureen McGovern’s A Long and Winding Road at the Metropolitan Room in New York, for Carol Burnett: In Conversation and for Matt Gould’s Free Style, both at UCLA’s Reprise! in Los Angeles. His lives with his partner, Harrison Thompson in New York. 

Preston Whiteway, Executive Director

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

Preston Whiteway was appointed Executive Director in January 2007, after serving the O’Neill as General Manager since 2004, and now leads the venerable and vital institution and its many national programs into the future.  Under his leadership, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center was awarded the 2010 Regional Theater Tony Award.  Mr. Whiteway joined the O’Neill upon graduating from Duke University, where he received his BA in Economics.  While at Duke, Mr. Whiteway served as the Chair of Broadway at Duke, leading and managing the major arts presenting organization, bringing national touring Broadway shows to the Durham, NC campus.  Mr. Whiteway also worked with National Playwrights Conference Artistic Director, Wendy C. Goldberg, at Washington, DC’s Arena Stage.  Since coming to the O’Neill, he has served on panels at Duke University Theater Communications Group and has been profiled in the New York Times and the Hartford Courant, and serves as a Trustee of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. A native of Virginia, Preston now lives in New London, Connecticut.

 

Amy Wegener, Literary Manager

Humana Festival Of New American Plays & Actors Theatre Of Louisville

Amy Wegener is the Literary Manager at Actors Theatre of Louisville.  In a total of ten seasons with Actors Theatre and four as Literary Manager at the Guthrie Theater (2003-2007), she has worked as a dramaturg on more than 80 workshops and productions of new plays and classics. Before heading north to Minneapolis, Amy was Actors Theatre's Assistant Literary Manager and subsequently Dramaturg/Director of New Play Development (1997-2003).  Her work in Louisville includes evaluating hundreds of scripts that are submitted for the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays and National Ten-Minute Play Contest, serving as a dramaturg on both mainstage season productions and Humana Festival world premieres, and participating in the myriad creative and administrative projects of the Literary Department.  At the Guthrie, she provided dramaturgical support for the theatre's International Travel Commission initiative and managed the University of Minnesota/Guthrie B.F.A. New Play Commissions and workshop process, among other projects. Amy has worked with numerous playwrights on the development and production of their new work, including Allison Moore, Julie Marie Myatt, Deborah Stein, Courtney Baron, Kirsten Greenidge, Dan Dietz, Madeleine George, Kelly Stuart, Victoria Stewart, David Rambo, Melanie Marnich, Mac Wellman, Zoe Kazan, Lee Blessing, William Mastrosimone, Jerome Hairston, and many others.  She has co-edited eleven published anthologies of plays, and frequently worked with The Playwrights' Center while in Minneapolis. Amy is a graduate of Princeton University and holds an M.A. from Northwestern University.

 

Philip Arnoult, Director

Center for International Theatre Development

Philip Arnoult is  widely recognized, nationally and internationally, not only for his efforts to nurture and present new theater and dance from throughout the world, but also for his commitment to long-term, international projects that put artists together to take the first steps toward collaborative projects. 

He founded The Baltimore Theatre Project in 1971, and served as its director for over two decades,  presenting artists from the US and abroad,  working on the cutting edge of both theater and dance forms.  

In 1990 he founded the Center for International Theatre Development (CITD)

He has lectured on new theater and new collaborations throughout the United States and abroad, and has delivered keynote addresses on these subjects at the Ditchley Foundation’s conference in Oxford, England, at the British-Israeli Theatre Association Conference in Tel Aviv, and for the Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal.

He has served on various policy and evaluation panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, and other state and regional agencies, as well as foundations and trusts in the US and abroad..

He has given lectures and conducted workshops and seminars on international exchange and new theater in Argentina, Belgium,  Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, France, Finland, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal,  Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United Kingdom.

 

John Freedman, Translator, Theater Critic

The Moscow Times, Center for International Theatre Development

John Freedman has spent the last 20 years working to introduce Americans to Russian theater and drama, the last 10 of which he has partnered on numerous programs with Phillip Arnoult’s Center for International Theater Development. John has written or edited and translated nine books about Russian drama and theater and has been the theater critic of The Moscow Times since 1992. His translations of over two dozen Russian plays have been performed in the United States, Australia, Canada and South Africa.

Marquee for Adam Rapp's Nocturne at the Moscow Young Spectator Theater. Photo by John Freedman.

The New American Plays for Russia is a Center for International Theatre Development initiative supported by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow under the aegis of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. Progress updates below run in reverse order, the oldest at the end, newest at the top.

See the following page on this site for photos of productions and readings of plays in this project.

 

Some Published Sources on the New American Plays for Russia Project

  • Go here to read a feature in America.gov on the New American Plays for Russia initiative. Here is another source for the same article.

  • По-русски - Читайте общую информацию here и here. О читках в Москве читайтеhere. О читках в Санкт-Петербурге читайте here. Целый сайт, составленный профессором Робин Квик и посвященный пьесе "Книгa Грейс". Смотрите видео из Омска here. Смотрите новостной сюжет из Санкт-Петербурга here. Читайте отчет о конференции и читках в Вологде here. Читайте информацию о спектакле "Чужаки" в ON.ТЕАТРе в Санкт-Петербурге here и here. Материал о читке "Последних дней" в Красноярске here ("Концу света быть, но будем жить" на 6-ой стр.). Читайте информацию о спектакле "Большая любовь" в ON.ТЕАТРе в Санкт-Петербурге here. Рецензию про спектакль "Большая любовь" в ON.ТЕАТРе читайте here. Посмотрите интервью с Адрианом Джиурджиа о его постановке "Чужаков" Энни Бейкер в Москве здесь. Смотрите новостной сюжет о читках в Екатеринбурге здесь. Читайте два интервью о читках в Екатеринбурге здесь издесь. Читайте про екатеринбургскую читку "Анны в Тропиках" здесь.

  • To read an account about the program in American Theater magazine (Oct. 2011) go here.

  • Here are Russian-language performance clips of Ksenia Zorina's staged production of Annie Baker's The Aliens in an adaptation by Mikhail Durnenkov at the Fifth Theater in Omsk, Oct. 23, 2011.

  • Here are some Russian-language performance clips of Adrian Giurgea's production of Annie Baker's The Aliens at the Pushkin Theater in Moscow - as well as Adrian's interview for Russian television. Note that Adrian's shot-gun, though substantive, comments in English are pretty much left intact.  

STATUS UPDATE: NINETEEN (Nov. 23, 2015)

The latest event in the ongoing, long-playing New American Plays for Russia program took place in mid-November in the city of Ulan-Ude, Russia, at the Youth Art Theater. Artyom Baskakov, whose father Anatoly Baskakov founded the Youth Art Theater some 35 years ago, has instituted a play-reading series that acquaints his city's theater-goers with unusual and unknown contemporary drama from around the world. His most recent series consisted of Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days (translated by Nina Belenitskaya with Alexandra Belenitskaya), Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio (adapted by Ivan Vyrypaev from a translation by Anna Shulgat), and Adam Rapp's Nocturne (adapted by Maksym Kurochkin from my annotated translation). Below are photos and production [reading] details on each of the three events. The readings were followed by discussions involving the production teams and spectators. Following each set of photos are comments as reported by Artyom on his theater's Facebook page

End Days, November 13, 2015. Directed by Anastasia Khudyakova.

  • Rachel Stein - Natalya Pavlushina

  • Sylvia Stein - Lyubov Ryabkova

  • Arthur Stein - Oleg Petelin

  • Nelson Steinbeck - Ilya Babeshko

  • Jesus and Stephen Hawking - Oleg Koba

Yevgeny Yefimenko, spectator - "I thought the play [End Days] was about problems most families have today. Kids do their thing, parents all suffer from migraines. And here, at the end of the show, this family came together."
Oleg Petelin, actor - "This is a play about love, but it is another question that this love is hidden away somewhere behind the drapes. But thanks to a faith in something those drapes are opened. This is the problem of loneliness, each is in his own shell, everyone is lonely."
Lenard Sultanov, spectator - "We see two generations, an older one and a younger one. The line between them, between atheism and faith, is drawn in a very interesting way. People consider themselves believers, but they doubt that they believe..."
Anatoly Baskakov, director/actor - "...This is a very smart play, its situations are very well coded. This Apocalypse that the wife is awaiting has already happened to the husband. On 9/11 millions of people around the world watched as those buildings were destroyed and that was the Apocalypse that took place before their eyes. All America, all that powerful America watched and wept. Therefore the husband has no fear of the world ending, he's already seen it. The play is called End Days, but it is about returning to the beginning. In fact it is an anti-church play. It is about faith and the search for a God for people, not for churches. They lost God and in the end He returns to them."

Talk Radio, November 14 and 21, 2015. Directed by Artyom Baskakov.

  • Barry - Alexei Fishev

  • Dan - Anatoly Baskakov

  • Stu - Fyodor Stepanov

  • Linda - Vera Afanasyeva

  • Kent - Yevgeny Yefimenko

  • Sid Greenberg - Oleg Koba

  • Callers - Alla Natanson, Lala Askerova, Bayarma Boboeva, Sergei Botvenko, Alexei Adamenko

Artyom Baskakov summarized the discussion of Talk Radio like this: "There was an interesting and lively conversation after the reading of what kind of hero spectators need today. Alexei Fishev's Barry struck many in the audience as very recognizable. The provocations that Barry uses during live broadcasts heated up spectators' interest. Few speak of the truth these days. In our world of total propaganda and untruths we need a harsh and honest conversation between individuals. And it is precisely Barry who pulls the lever in the play to make that happen. The conversation also touched on the situation in our country today. As Alexei Fishev properly said, 'Barry is a reflection of today's world, he is the demand that we are constantly fed with by the television set.' That is the hero's power and tragedy all in one!"
Let me [JF] add that the role of Barry was played by a popular Ulan-Ude radio personality, who did a very cool video chat before the reading. You can watch that onYouTube. (It's in Russian, of course.) 

Nocturne, November 22, 2015

  • Son - Ivan Buzunov

  • Jan - Alla Natanson

  • Earl - Vladimir Vitin

  • Redheaded Girl - Bayarma Boboeva

Artyom Baskakov summarized the discussion of Nocturne with these words: "Nocturne is a return to lost human values. The structure of Adam Rapp's play, in the translation and adaptation of John Freedman and Maksym Kurochkin, is musical, complex and as dramatic as Edvard Grieg's Nocturne. Thoughts, images, metaphors, internal contradictions and facts slowly unwind from the only event in the play - the death of the protagonist's younger sister. At the last discussion with the audience, it was clear that the play is interesting, but is perceived as difficult to grasp in the genre of a reading. There was not enough action and conflict in the director's presentation of the material itself. At the same time director Oleg Koba is to be praised for having managed to preserve the pristine quality of the text with only a minimum of editing. For the most part, the director and actors put their fingers on the author's nerve. Bayarma Boboeva was very good as the girl in love with the protagonist. Alla Natanson accurately conveyed the tragic image of the mother. A highlight of the reading was the role of the father, played by the legendary actor, director and teacher Vladimir Vitin. Ivan Buzunov was interesting, but  if we were to talk of a future production, there is room for growth and the need to strengthen the character's image with the detailed help of a director..."
Once again, I ]JF] would like to draw your attention to a nice little promo video that the theater created for Nocturne. You can see it on YouTube

STATUS UPDATE: EIGHTEEN  (March 17, 2015)

Five years into the New American Plays for Russia program - almost three years after it officially concluded - the project very much continues to have life. Last night one of the biggest events yet took place at the new Stanislavsky Electrotheater in Moscow, run by artistic director Boris Yukhananov. Director Alexander Ogaryov unveiled his production of Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics with Cruz and his agent Peregrine Whittlesey in attendance, front row center. 

But before I give more information about that I want to note that Mexican-American director Ricardo Marin mounted a full staged reading of Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days in Saratov in November 2014 as part of the Saratov Young Spectator Theater's Fourth Height Creative Laboratory of new drama. A gallery of photos taken during the reading by Andrei Lapshin may be perused here. A video recording of the complete performance, including a Russian-language discussion afterwards, may be seen on YouTube here. (Note that this is a "private" link which does not show up in searches, but can be seen by this link.)

As for Cruz's Anna in the Tropics, the first night was preceded by a 90-minute public discussion that included Cruz, translator Yevgeny Kazachkov, director Ogaryov, famed film director Sergei Solovyov, moderator Olga Fedyanina and myself. My account of that meeting was published in The Moscow Times on March 19. A small gallery of photos that I took before and after the show (including two I sneaked in during the performance and a couple during the curtain calls) can be seen in an album I posted to Facebook. Below you can peruse the cover of the program as well as several rehearsal photos taken by Natalya Cheban for the Electrotheater.

The production team, aside from the author, translator and director, includes Designer Anastasia Glebova, music by Dmitry Volkov collaborating with the group Simple Music, Choreographer Anna Garafeeva, Lighting Designer Taras Mikhalevsky, and Video Artist Sergei Pylyov. Two casts will perform alternately. The actors are:

  • Santiago - Oleg Bazhanov and Alexander Panteleyev

  • Ofelia - Lyudmila Lushina and Yelena Morozova

  • Cheche - Sergei Medvedev and Lera Gorin

  • Marela - Anaastasia Ksenofontova and Anastasia Fursa

  • Conchita - Alla Kazakova and Anna Kapaleva

  • Palomo - Roman Drobot and Georgy Getisov

  • Eliades - Alexander Miloserdov and Boris Dergachyov

  • Juan Julian - Yevgeny Samarin and Dmitry Chebotaryov

  • Factory Workers - Yulia Abdel-Fattakh, Alisa Dmitrieva, Anton Kostochkin, Margarita Movsesyan, Dmitry Myagky, Mikhail Sokolov, Alyona Fyodorova 

Finally, for the moment, at least, I can announce that a different production of Anna in the Tropics by Alexander Ogaryov at the Tomsk Drama Theater in Tomsk will open in just over a month, on April 17 and 18. I will have photos and reports to provide when that happens. 

STATUS UPDATE: SEVENTEEN (Dec. 9, 2013)

I am happy to say that, while plans for various events in Yekaterinburg have not panned out (at least not yet), we still have significant events taking place more than two years after the seven American plays were first presented in Russian in Omsk, Moscow and St. Petersburg in the fall of 2011.

1) One of the first big productions to take place at Moscow's Stanislavsky Theater under newly-appointed artistic director Boris Yukhananov will be Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics. The production, directed by Alexander Ogaryov, is expected to open in the early months of 2014. I will provide more information on this when the event occurs.

2) On Dec. 20 a touring version of Annie Baker's The Aliens will play at the Meyerhold Center in Moscow. This production of St. Petersburg's ON.TEATR was directed by Maria Kritskaya. This, incidentally, will be the third version of The Aliens to have played in Moscow. A production at the Pushkin Drama Theater continues in repertory at that prominent Moscow playhouse, and a touring version of the play from the Omsk Fifth Theater played at the OpenProject Stage in Fall 2012. See older updates below for information on these events.

3) A production of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio premiered at the St. Petersburg State Academy of Theater Arts in early December. It was staged by Anton Okoneshnikov.

STATUS UPDATE: SIXTEEN ( May 23, 2013) 

It was supposed to be the final big bang in what has now become the three-year New American Plays for Russia project introducing Russian theater to seven contemporary American plays. But now, after the "final event" of five staged readings during the Contemporary American Drama Seminar hosted on May 21 and 22, 2013, by the Yekaterinburg Young Spectator Theater, it looks very much like we still have plenty more to look forward to. Not only does it appear that a minimum of two, and maybe even four, of the plays will be given full productions in Yekaterinburg, but to my delight, it was decided to repeat all of the readings this fall as part of the Young Spectator Theater's prestigious bi-annual Real Theater Festival, a major event that brings together theaters and theater practitioners from all over Russia. That will give us even more access to hundreds of Russian provincial theaters than we have had at any one of the previous festivals, seminars or presentations. The idea originated with a representative of the Nizhny Tagil Drama Theater, and Svetlana Uchaikina, the managing director of the Yekaterinburg Young Spectator Theater, responded positively immediately. The handshake on the deal took place right in front of me shortly after the completion of a reading of Adam Rapp's Nocturne.

It would be premature to name all of the candidates for production, but I feel safe in saying that the first to be done will likely be Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics. This reading was greeted with unanimous praise and Svetlana Uchaikina has already talked with the director about continuing rehearsals in August and opening the production in September or October.

I was extremely pleased to hear universal praise for all five of the translations that were presented. Over and over during the two days I heard comments such as, "We often do seminars of translated plays, but these are the best translations we have ever worked with." And, indeed, during the readings, it was easy to see how well the translations were working. Clever turns of phrases and innovative expressions repeatedly grabbed laughs and caused reactions. As I have seen at other festivals and seminars, our translators and adapters did a beautiful job of making these American plays accessible to Russian audiences without losing the core styles and themes that make the plays American.

Here is information about the teams that created the readings, along with a few photos of each.

Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio adapted by Ivan Vyrypayev from a translation by Anna Shulgat. May 21, 2013.

  • Directed by Oleg Gettse.

  • Barry - Viktor Potseluyev

  • Stu - Vladimir Nesterov

  • Dan - Alexander Vikkulin

  • Sid - Alexei Volkov

  • Linda - Natalia Kuznetsova

  • Kent - Ivan Marchukov

  • Callers - performed by spectators given a text and microphone

Annie Baker's The Aliens adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raykova. May 21, 2013.

  • Directed by Dmitry Mikhailov

  • Jasper - Valentin Smirnov

  • K.J. - Alexei Zhuravlyov

  • Evan - Sergei Molochkov

Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics translated by Yevgeny Kazachkov. May 21, 2013.

  • Directed by Marina Glukhovskaya

  • Santiago - Gennady Khoshabov

  • Cheche - Ilya Skvortsov

  • Ofelia - Yekaterina Demskaya

  • Marella - Darya Bolshakova

  • Conchita - Yelena Strazhnikova

  • Palomo - Sergei Mongilyov

  • Juan Julian - Sergei Timorin

Charles L. Mee's Big Love translated by Sergei Task. May 22, 2013.

  • Directed by Igor Bulygin

  • Lydia - Anna Karataeva

  • Olympia - Yekaterina Sysoeva

  • Thyona - Irina Tsvetkova

  • Bella/Eleonor - Marianna Bylygina

  • Piero/Leo - Sergei Zyryanov

  • Giuliana/Oed - Danil Zineev

  • Constantine - Alexander Shvendykh

  • Nikos - Igor Bulygin

Adam Rapp's Nocturne adapted by Maksym Kurochkin from a translation by John Freedman. May 22, 2013.

  • Directed by Oleg Gettse

  • Brother/Father - Oleg Gettse

  • Sister/Brother - Alesya Maas

STATUS UPDATE: Fifteen (Feb. 28, 2013)

One of the most exciting events in the New American Plays for Russia project took place in mid-February - and it wasn't in Russia. The great Ilkhom Theater of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, created by Mark Weil way back in 1976, hosted readings of three plays - Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics, Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days, and Suzan-Lori Parks's The Book of Grace - from Feb. 12 to 16. Calling these events readings is a major understatement, for they were truly full productions in the guise of readings. The casts and crews worked on the texts for something like ten days before presenting them to packed houses in the cozy Ilkhom basement space. This all happened thanks to the initiative of current Ilkhom artistic director Boris Gafurov and the theater's deputy director Irina Bharat, as well as to the support of the U.S. embassy in Tashkent. We were all extremely pleased to see the U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan, George A. Krol, join us for the  reading of The Book of Grace. I am pleased to say he seemed as impressed as everyone else in the house. If you're interested, here is a blog I wrote about Ilkhom, though not about the presentation of the American plays.

Before I get to the document stage of this update let me provide this following piece of information. The next stage in the New American Plays for Russia project takes place in Yekaterinburg during the period of May 20 to 25, 2013.

And now, here are the creative teams who worked on the readings in Tashkent along with a few selected photographs.

 

Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz, translated by Eugene Kazachkov.

  • Directed by Vyacheslav Tziu. 

  • Performed by Olga Volodina, Georgy Kobylin, Alexei Pistsov, Natalya Li, Anastasia Sergeeva, Sanzhar Dzhumaev, Akmal Rakhimov.

End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer, translated by Nina and Alexandra Belenitsky. 

  • Directed by Marina Turpishcheva. 

  • Performed by Boris Gafurov, Kazak Duren, Zinaida Melkonyan, Yan Dobrynin, Natalya Li.

The Book of Grace by Suzan-Lori Parks, adapted by Yury Klavdiev from a translation by Maria Nikolaeva. 

  • Directed by Boris Gafurov. 

  • Peformed by Vladimir Yudin, Maxim Fadeev, Yulia Plakida. 

STATUS UPDATE: Fourteen (Dec. 26, 2012)

Mid-December brought the latest production of one of the American Project plays in Russia - Kama Ginkas's staging at the Moscow Young Spectator Theater of Adam Rapp's Nocturne, as adapted by Maksym Kurochkin from my translation. The official opening dates were Dec. 13 and 14. You can read a blog of my personal experience with the project here. We were fortunate to have the distinguished English photographer Ken Reynolds in Moscow for the premiere (you can see him, unidentified, in the left corner of the photo accompanying my blog), and I have attached five of his photos below.

  • The cast:

  • The Son - Igor Gordin

  • The Sister - Alyona Stebunova

  • Jan - Oksana Lagutina

  • Earl - Andrei Bronnikov

  • The Redheaded Girl - Ilona Borisova

  • The Pianist - Tikhon Krennikov 

Ginkas's Nocturne brings the total number of productions during the current year to seven in three cities. But as the project enters its third year there is still plenty more happening.

1) Annie Baker's The Aliens, directed by Adrian Giurgea from Mikhail Durnenkov's adaptation at Moscow's Pushkin Theater, will tour to St. Petersburg to perform at the Breakthrough (Proryv) Festival on Feb. 4.

2) The Ilkhom Theater of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hosts a festival of American drama from February 13 to 17, 2013. Three plays yet to be determined will receive staged readings. 

3) In one of the biggest events of the whole project, the Yekaterinburg Young Spectator Theater will host a festival built around all seven plays. Specific dates are still to be determined, but it will take place in the first quarter of 2013. The festival will consist of a combination of readings and tours of existing productions.

4) The premiere of Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics, translated by Yevgeny (Eugene) Kazachkov and directed by Alexander Ogaryov at the Krasnodar Drama Theater is scheduled for spring.

STATUS UPDATE: LUCKY THIRTEEN (Sept. 11, 2012)

As the New American Plays for Russia project enters its third year, important events continue to occur. Here is a rundown of upcoming developments:

1) Sept. 12, 2012. Press showing of Adrian Giurgea's production of Annie Baker's The Aliens on the affiliate stage of the Pushkin Theater. I remind you that this is a beautiful adaptation done by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova.

2) Sept. 15 and 16, 2012. Premiere of Adrian Giurgea's production of Annie Baker's The Aliens on the affiliate stage of the Pushkin Theater. This marks the Moscow premiere for the project (not counting the readings done at the Playwright and Director Center in November 2011). Productions are up and running in Omsk and St. Petersburg. More cities are to come. See below.

3) Sept. 25, 2012. Touring performance of the Omsk Fifth Theater's production of Annie Baker's The Aliens in Moscow at the Open Stage Project. This fine piece of work directed by Ksenia Zorina marked Annie Baker's debut in Russia.

4) Undisclosed date, 2012/2013 season. In the most high profile event of the project so far Kama Ginkas will stage Adam Rapp's Nocturne in Moscow at the Young Spectator Theater in an adaptation by Maksym Kurochkin from a translation by John Freedman. Rehearsals began in early September.

5) Undisclosed date, 2012/2013 season. The famous Ilkhom Theater in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, will present readings of selected plays from the American plays project. Specific titles are yet to be determined.

6) Jan./Feb. 2013. Yekaterinburg Young Spectator Theater will host a mini-festival built around readings of plays from the project. Specific dates and titles are yet to be determined.  

7) Spring 2013. Premiere of Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics, translated by Yevgeny (Eugene) Kazachkov and directed by Alexander Ogaryov at the Krasnodar Drama Theater.

8) Still other events are being discussed in Moscow and other cities. Follow this space or contact me for updates.

 STATUS UPDATE: TWELVE (June 8, 2012)

In the last two+ months we have continued to see developments in regards to the American plays presented in Russia over the last year. Meanwhile, I now can share some photos of Maria Kritskaya's production of Annie Baker's The Aliens and of Chuck Mee's Big Love, both of which opened earlier this year at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg. See these, as well as other photos, at the end of this update. Large photo galleries of The Aliens and Big Love are available on the Russian site VKontakte. Photos are easy to access: Just drop down the page to Photos (in English) and click on the first in the row of images. Navigation from there is in English.
 

1) Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days, translated by Nina and Alexandra Belenitskaya, premiered at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg in a production by Ricardo Marin on March 18, 2012. See photos at the end of this update.

2) Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days, translated by Nina and Alexandra Belenitskaya,was presented as a staged reading at the DNK festival of new drama in Krasnoyarsk on May 19, 2012. It was directed by Dmitry Volkostrelov from St. Petersburg. 

3) Annie Baker's The Aliens, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, and directed by Ksenia Zorina, will officially open at the Fifth Theater in Omsk on June 13 and 14.

4) Annie Baker's The Aliens, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, is currently in rehearsals in Moscow under the direction of Romanian-born, American-based Adrian Giurgea. The premiere, I am told by my mole in the theater, is still slated for early September.

STATUS UPDATE: ELEVEN ( MARCH 30, 2012)

This update may be subtitled "Annie Baker." Good news about Mikhail Durnenkov's adaptation of her play The Aliens. It opened in a production by Maria Kritskaya at St. Petersburg's ON.TEATR on March 16 and 17. It continues in repertory on April 5. Here is part of what one spectator wrote on the theater's site: "We attended the show yesterday. Tons of impressions. The actors were fabulous, just wonderful!!! We laughed and were sad and each of us plunged into our own personal thoughts. Thank you to the actors and the creators of this show. I really liked the actor who played Jasper and the songs of the group, The Aliens. Come see this, you won't regret it!!!!"

 

For the record I will add that the cast consists of: 

  • K.J. - Sergei Malakhov

  • Jasper - Ivan Sokolov

  • Evan - Yegor Kutenkov

In other news I just received a letter from Pavel Shishin at the Fifth Theater in Omsk and they have finally come to an agreement to open their production of The Aliens in Omsk in May. This show is directed by Ksenia Zorina.

STATUS UPDATE: TEN (FEB. 20, 2012, Updated Mar. 3)

Presentations of two plays in the New American Plays for Russia project took place in Vologda Feb. 25 and 26, 2012 as part of a conference entitled Dialogues and Meetings: Russian and American Theater of the 20th Century. We have every hope that the plays will be a step in creating a bridge to the 21st century as well. Go here to see a few photos from the readings.

 

Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days, as translated by Nina and Alexandra Belenitskaya, was given a staged reading on Feb. 25 at the Young Actor Theater. It was directed by Irina Starostenko. The cast:

  • Rachel -Ulyana Milianina

  • Sylvia -Albina Suedova

  • Arthur -Khasan Tsakhilov

  • Nelson -Kirill Boldyrev

  • Jesus and Stephen Hawking - Oleg Krasnogorov

 

Suzan-Lori Parks's The Book of Grace, adapted by Yury Klavdiev from a translation by Maria Nikolaeva, was given a reading on Feb. 26 at the World of Forgotten Things museum. It was staged by the cast consisting of actors from the Vologda State Drama Theater:

  • Vet - Alexander Sokolov

  • Buddy - Igor Lomanovich

  • Grace - Anastasia Zadorina

  • Author's remarks - Maxim Gudkov (from St. Petersburg)

 

Previously, a reading of Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics was held Dec. 6 at the Tomsk Drama Theater. The cast consisted of:

  • Santiago - Viktor Antonov

  • Cheche - Viktor Litvinchuk

  • Ofelia - Galina Savranskaya

  • Marela - Irina Shishlyannikova

  • Conchita - Yelizaveta Sergeeva

  • Palomo - Vladimir Tarasov

  • Juan Julian - Andrei Sidorov

 

We have had changes and developments in plans for some of the plays that have been read elsewhere and selected for production in various theaters. The following information supersedes any previous listings.

Chuck Mee's Big Love, translated by Sergei Task and adapted by the company, was staged by Georgy Tsnobiladze at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg. Premiere date was January 11, 2012. See the end of this update for selected photos.
 

Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days, adapted by Nina Belenitskaya from a translation by Alexandra Belenitskaya, will be staged by Ricardo Marin at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg. Premiere dates tentatively scheduled for May 1 and 2, 2012. 

Suzan-Lori Parks's The Book of Grace, adapted by Yury Klavdiev from a translation by Maria Nikolaeva, will be kept in repertory at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg as a reading staged by Denis Shibaev. Premiere date scheduled for April.
 

Annie Baker's The Aliens, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, will be staged by Ksenia Zorina at the Fifth Theater in Omsk. Expected premiere date: May 2012.  
 

Annie Baker's The Aliens, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, will be staged by Maria Kritskaya at ON.TEATR in St. Petersburg. Premiere dates tentatively set as March 16 and 17, 2012.

Annie Baker's The Aliens, adapted by Mikhail Durnenkov from a translation by Yekaterina Raikova, will be staged by American-based Romanian director Adrian Giurgia, at the Pushkin Theater in Moscow. Expected premiere date: September 7, 2012.

STATUS UPDATE: SEVEN (OCT. 25, 2011)

Suzan-Lori Parks's The Book of Grace, as adapted by Yury Klavdiev and translated by Maria Nikolayeva, was read at the Fifth Theater in Omsk, Russia, as part of the theater's Young Russian Theaters Festival. The cast was as follows:

  • Vet - Vladimir Priezzhev

  • Buddy - Yevgeny Fomintsev

  • Grace - Marina Golovina

Go here to see a small photo album of the reading.

STATUS UPDATE: SIX (OCT. 24, 2011)

Annie Baker's The Aliensas translated by Mikhail Durnenkov and Yekaterina Raikova, was given a staged reading at the Fifth Theater in Omsk, Russia, as part of the theater's Young Russian Theaters Festival. The reading was directed by Ksenia Zorina and the cast was as follows:

  • Jasper - Maxim Peshin

  • KJ - Denis Tsvetkov

  • Evan - Artyom Ilyin

  • Translator Mikhail Durnenkov - Arlan Kasimanov

Go here to see a small photo album of the reading in progress.

STATUS UPDATE: FIVE (Oct. 23, 2011)

Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days, as translated by Nina and Alexandra Belenitskaya, was given a staged reading at the Fifth Theater in Omsk, Russia, as part of the theater's Young Russian Theaters Festival. The reading was directed by Andrei Lyubimov and the cast was as follows:

  • Rachel Stein - Yelena Zaigraeva

  • Sylvia Stein - Tatyana Kazakova

  • Arthur Stein - Boris Kositsyn

  • Nelson Steinbeck - Anton Zolnikov

  • Jesus (off-stage voice) - Sergei Khudobenko

  • Stephen Hawking (off-stage voice) - Alexei Pichugin

Go here to see a small photo album of the reading in progress.  

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