John Freedman has written or edited and translated eleven books in the sphere of Russian drama and theater, including Silence's Roar: The Life and Drama of Nikolai Erdman and Provoking Theater: Kama Ginkas Directs (co-authored with Ginkas), and his play Dancing, Not Dead won The Internationalists' Global Playwright Contest in 2011. His Real and Phantom Pains: An Anthology of New Russian Drama is the largest collection of Russian plays ever published. He currently holds the position of Advisor to the Artistic Director at the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre in Moscow. He was the theater critic of The Moscow Times from the paper's inception in 1992 until October 2015. He has been: a columnist for Plays International since 1994; the editor of the Russian Theater Archive for Harwood Academic Publishers (1992-2002); and has frequently contributed to the New York Times and other periodicals.
John has been a member of the editorial boards of TheatreForum and Plays International. He was the Russian director of The New Russian Drama: Translation / Production / Conference (2007 - 2010), a project hosted by Towson University and Philip Arnoult's Center for International Theater Development (CITD). He was the director of New American Plays for Russia (2010-2015), a project bringing cutting edge American drama to Russia with the support of the U.S. embassy in Moscow under the auspices of the Bilateral Presidential Commission, and with the collaboration of New York Theater Workshop, HUMANA Festival of New American Plays, Sundance Institute and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. John has been active in the theatrical process in Moscow, serving on the advisory board for the Debut Center theater (1997-99), co-curating three runnings of the Russian Case festival (2002, 2003, 2005), and serving as a Jack-of-All-Trades in the founding and running of his wife's theater, the Oksana Mysina Theatrical Brotherhood since 2001.
He is an artistic adviser to Sputnik Theatre (London) and is a creative adviser to Breaking String Theater (Austin, TX). He has served on juries at various theater festivals, including the Golden Mask (Moscow), Divine Comedy (Krakow, Poland), and Theater Without Borders (Magnitogorsk). He curated the Focus/Russia mini-festival within the Nova Drama (New Drama) festival in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2008.
John's translations of plays by Olga Mukhina, Maksym Kurochkin, Yury Klavdiev, Vyacheslav Durnenkov, Oleg Bogayev, Nikolai Erdman and others have been performed in the United States, Canada, Australia, England and South Africa, and published in numerous anthologies and journals. He is the co-author, with Viktor Korkiya, of the script for the documentary film Nikolai Erdman: A Shot of Suicide (ORT, Russia, 2004), and was the chief consultant and on-camera host of Unprotected Senses, a documentary film about Kama Ginkas (Pushkin Studio, U.S., 2004). In 1996, with Olga Galakhova he founded and hosted the short-lived but influential television theater news show Suflyor (Prompter) which was broadcast throughout the CIS on ORT. In 2006 under the general title of Provoking Theater he made two documentary films for Russia Today, an English-language, international Russian television company. He created the English-language subtitles for three major Russian films, Andrei Konchalovsky's Glos, Ivan Vyrypaev's Oxygen and Vitaly Melnikov's The Admirer. He was a consultant on Russian drama and theater for the Lark Theater in New York from 1999 to 2004. His views on and expertise in Russian culture have been sought out for features and stories prepared by the BBC, the CBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, Radio Liberty, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Newsweek and other news organizations. He published a weekly web column, originally entitled Theater Plus from 2009 to March 2014, on the website of The Moscow Times. He maintains a blog about Russian art, culture and architecture called Russian Culture in Landmarks.
John has lectured and spoken on Russian drama and theater at the Martin E. Segal Graduate Center in New York, Duke University, University of MI at Ann Arbor, University of WI at Madison, Virginia Tech, Towson University, Yale University, Princeton University (Oates Fellow in Slavic), the University of Texas, the Kennan Center in Washington, DC, the HUMANA Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, KY, Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, MA, Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, Oxford University, Cambridge University, the Pushkin House in London, Tomsk State University, Palacky University (Olomouc, CZ) and other institutions. He donated his archive of Nikolai Erdman research and documents to the rare books and documents division of the Research Library of Tomsk State University in April 2014.
John acted as Lee Breuer's dramaturgical assistant in Breuer's production of Sam Shepard's The Curse of the Starving Class at the Saratov Youth Theater in the fall of 2010. In the summer of 2010 John co-wrote the script for the summer spectacle of The Firebird at Double Edge Theater (with the Double Edge collective and Jennifer Johnson). His play Dancing, Not Dead was translated into Russian by Alexei Burykin and received its rolling world premiere in staged readings in Berlin, Moscow, Bucharest and New York in 2011. His voice played the lead role in The Epic of Lilikan, a Golden Mask award-winning puppet show at the Ten (Shadow) Theater in Moscow in 2009. In 2013 he recorded the voices of Othello and Second Guard in Ilya Epelbaum's puppet shows of Othello and Richard II, respectively, for the Ten Theater's innovative production of all Shakespeare's plays (another Golden Mask winner). From 2008 to 2012 he joined Pavel Podkladov as the co-host of a program on American music on the Podmoskovye radio station. From 2012 to 2015 he occasionally joined Oksana Mysina on her radio show for Radio Orpheus to present the work of American musicians.
John received his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University (1990), his Masters from George Washington University (1983), his B.A. from University of California, Irvine (1980).
I can't resist linking to this bio published on a Virginia Tech website before I spoke there a few years ago, if for no other reason than they somehow tracked down the info that I played a bit of professional baseball and that I dropped out of junior college.
Photo by John Freedman