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On January 17, the theatre world celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavsky

PHOTO: K.S.Alexeyev (Stanislavsky) as Chieftain. La Camargo operette by Charles Lecocq. 1884

Photos courtesy of the A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum 

They say that greatness is achieved either thanks to or in spite of the events that took place in one's childhood.  Stanislavsky was lucky. The atmosphere of the first years of his life was exceptionally favourable for the purpose of fostering his talent.  His parents – Yelizaveta Vasilyevna and Sergei Vladimirovich Alexeyev – adored theatre.  Yelizaveta Vasilyevna absorbed her love of theatre with her mother's milk, being the daughter of the famous French actress Marie Varley.  

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Standing Between East and West

Standing Between East and West

The programme for the new 2013 Chekhov Festival has been announced – new productions by "old familiar faces" and the names of those, who are yet to be discovered by the Russian audience (not only in Moscow, but also in St Petersburg, Voronezh, Samara, Ufa, Yekaterinburg, and Novosibirsk). Among the former are James and Aurelia Thiйrrйe, the grandchildren of Charlie Chaplin and Eugene O'Neill (each with their own theatre company and their own production: James's "Raoul" – about the end or the beginning of the world, Aurelia's "Whispering Walls" – about the properties of memory.

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Going Home!

Going Home!

A little over a year went by and Robert Sturua once again returns to the Shota Rustaveli Theatre, to which he dedicated 50 years of his life.  Fired from his position as the theatre's artistic director by Nikoloz Rurua, a former Georgian Minister of Culture, Sturua received many offers from Moscow theatres and chose the Et Cetera theatre, where he had already staged three productions. The position of a guest principal director was created in the theatre especially for Sturua.  Yet the changed political situation in his homeland and the advent of the Georgian Dream coalition to power made possible his return to theatre. A chamber stage was even built for Sturua inside a former Tbilisi silk weaving factory. The first premiere – "Maria Callas", based on a play by an American playwright Terence McNelly – will take place in January of 2013.

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Mozart to Play Salieri

Mozart to Play Salieri

Nikolai Marton, one of the leading figures of the Alexandrinsky Theatre, appeared before the audience in a solo performance titled "Monologues in the Tsar's Lobby" (directed by Polina Nevedomskaya).  A bust of Pushkin and a black grand piano, bronze door handles and a view to a magnificent auditorium  beyond the door – the entire space of the lobby in front of the Tsar's box is involved in the production.  The actor here combined a number of roles: among those are ones that wouldn't have been assigned to him even by the most radical of directors – Agafya Tikhonovna and Nina Zarechnaya.  Marton's one-man production brings together the jealous Arbenin and the envious Salieri, Khlestakov, who dreams of forty thousand couriers, and Boris Godunov, who reached the  highest level of power, Chekhov's Svetlovidov, who realizes that it is time to rehearse the part of a deadman, and the deceived Harpagon with... a heap of critical reviews in his arms, Shylock, Fyodor Karamazov, and Pushkin's Baron, who is conscious of his power over the world.  It is not over the trunks of gold that he reflects on this, though, but over the magnificence of the auditorium.

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An Attack on Theatre Press

An Attack on Theatre Press

The St Petersburg Theatre Journal, which has been in existence since 1992 and is perhaps the most informative journal when it comes to covering theatre life in St Petersburg and the Russian regions, is under a threat of being shut down.  The reason for such turn of events was a "youth" issue, dedicated to the ties between theatre and social life.  The St Petersburg Press Committee, which had been providing grants for the journal's publication for many years, refused to reimburse the journal's publishing expenses on account of the issue's five articles.  In particular, according to Marina Dmitrievskaya, the journal's editor-in-chief, one of the complaints the officials had was associated with a review of the Teatr.Doc production of "BerlusPutin", which, ironically, was nominated for the national Golden Mask award. 

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The Yermolova Theatre Reboot

The Yermolova Theatre Reboot

December 1 marked a new phase in the history of the Yermolova Theatre (which is geographically the closest to the Kremlin).  This year, Oleg Menshikov, who had once performed on the Yermolova stage, became the theatre's artistic director and decided to begin renovations not just with physical repairs alone but with a whole volley of premieres as well.  The very first of those featured the theatre's former artistic director Vladimir Andreev.  Together with Valentin Gaft they are performing Rodion Ovchinnikov's "The Biggest Little Drama", whose protagonists are characters from Chekhov's "Kalkhas", who quite unexpectedly get a second chance at life.  Following that performance, the Yermolov Theatre company will be presenting Anna Yablonskaya's "The Pagans" in Yevgeny Kamenkovich's production, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" in Alexander Sazonov's production, and an ultramodern "Snow Maiden" in Alexei Kuzmin-Tarasov's production.  Looking forward, the theatre plans to release "Spring Storm" by Tennessee Williams, Isaac Babel's "Odessa 913" and a renewed production of Vladimir Gurkin's play "Not For Me". 

The Yermolova Theatre will get a New Stage, as is befitting a modern theatre. The first performances to grace the new stage will be "Kozma Prutkov Theatre" in Alexei Levinsky's production and Neil LaBute's "The Shape of Things" in Olesya Nevmerzhitskaya's production.  In addition, Menshikov will bring to the Yermolova Theatre the following productions by his Theatrical Company 814: "The Gamblers", "1900" and "Dream Orchestra.  Brass". 

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Ineffective Due to Its Specific Nature

Ineffective Due to Its Specific Nature

Artistic universities are trying to recover following the November performance review by the Ministry of Education, which declared some of them ineffective. Thus, the St Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy, the city's principal theatre institution, decided that the formulation "ineffective due to the specific nature of its activity" is an admission of an error on the part of the government, and they put forward their counterclaims  (in particular, the per student financing that was decreased threefold).

The Yekaterinburg Theatre Institute, which was slated to become a faculty of the Ural State Conservatory, has also seen better days. Students and teachers were even preparing to stage a protest, but were likewise saved by "the specific nature of activity" (which the Ministry of Education did not bother to take into account, and for which it had not developed any criteria). The Rostov State Rachmaninov Conservatory and the Rostov branch of the St Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts also received the "Black Spot" of ineffectiveness. And the Kemerovo Institute of Culture was designated as an ineffective university due to a technical error. 

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In the Face of Modernity

In the Face of Modernity

From September 22 through 29, Perm will be hosting its third "Textura" – a festival of theatre and cinema of modern day. The competition consists of four programmes: film, theatre, plays, and scripts. Among the winners of the  previous "Textura" festivals were Lucas Moodysson, Vladimir Sorokin, Ivan Vyrypaev, and Kornél Mundruczó. Timur Khakimov, the programme's director, selected the following productions to take part in the theatre competition: "Grandmothers" and "Sitting Carriage" (the Praktika Theatre), "Two in Your House" (Teatr.Doc Theatre), "Transpolar Truth" (the "On.TEATR" Theatre Laboratory), "Illusions" (Russian Drama Theatre of Abakan), "Pagans" (Prokopyevsk Drama Theatre). The topicality criteria brought Bernardo Bertolucci and the students of Marina Razbezhkina together in one poster in the movie programme. A retrospective of Petr Zelenka's movies will be shown as part of the special "Name" programme (he became laureate of the award of the same name). In addition, the audience will get acquainted with "The Hero" (that is the theme of a festival of short – 15 second to 20 minute – productions) and a movie programme of the "24 doc" channel.

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The Volkovsky Festival Declared Its Winners

The Volkovsky Festival Declared Its Winners

On September 19, the XIII International Volkovsky Festival will kick off in Yaroslavl. The festival is held from the year 2000, when theatre Russia marked the 250th anniversary of the first professional Russian theatre that now bears the name of Fedor Volkov. Every year the festival awards three winners from among Russian theatres and directors. This year, they were the M. Gorky Komi-Perm Drama Theatre (Kudymkar), Sergei Fedotov, artistic director of the "U Mosta" ("At the Bridge") Theatre in Perm, and Oleg Rybkin, principal director of the A.S. Pushkin Drama Theatre in Krasnoyarsk. The festival's programme includes "Talents and Admirers" by Mindaugas Karbauskis, "The Lower Depths" and "The Tempest" by Oskaras Koršunovas, "The White Poodle", a children's production by Vyacheslav Dolgachev, "The Marriage" by Sergei Fedotov, "Paladins of France" by Italy's Teatro Koreja in Enzo Toma's production, Yuri Grigorovich's "The Stone Flower", "A Play Without a Title" and "Two Poor Polish-Speaking Romanians" by Yevgeny Marcelli, Azerbaijan's "Wolves and Sheep" by Timur Nasirov, "Shukshin's Stories" by Alvis Hermanis, "Viy" by Semyon Serzin, "Sanya, Vanya and Rimas, too" by Sergei Andreev, "The Little Humpbacked Horse" by Oleg Rybkin, as well as a concert by the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra.

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The Bolshoi Theatre Turned to Children

The Bolshoi Theatre Turned to Children

The theatre announced its plans for the upcoming season. Sergei Nevsky's premiere "Francisca" will take place as early as September 12 as part of the "Contemporary Opera Laboratory." Yuri Lyubimov will begin rehearsals in September. His resume includes about thirty operas, but this would be his first work at the Bolshoi Theatre. The premiere of his "Prince Igor" is set for December 16. Francesca Zambello, on the other hand, has already worked at the Bolshoi – she staged "Turandot" and "The Fiery Angel." Coming up is her production of "La Traviata" with Albina Shagimuratova in the leading role. Another Italian, Pier Luigi Pizzi, will present Bellini's "La Sonnambula," featuring American singer Lora Claycomb and South African tenor Colin Lee. For the first time in many years the theatre turned to a children's audience: Britain's Anthony McDonald was invited to stage Ravel's "The Child and the Spells". The theatre's plans also include a revival of "The Tsar's Bride" and a gala concert in honour of the 200th anniversary of the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812.

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