-- my plays.

2007 - 2008 -

Russian Plays in English:

Disformomania, Sorokin, transl.

3 Sisters, Chekhov, transl/adaptation

Inspector General, Gogol, transl/adaptation

Not online:

The Bear by Chekhov, Love by Petrushevskaya, Marriage by Gogol, 20 min w/angel by Vampilov (see my resume or CV).

The Possessed 2003
I started "Russian Dreams" (trilogy), when my father was alive. He died on the Christmas 2003 -- and I could not work on the play. Twice I was in Moscow in 2004 -- and in Sept. I began antohins.vtheatre.net directory -- One Family, One Century.



Русские Грезы?...
For my heart trembles more - whenever I think
of her being where someone else's eyes could see her-
for fear lest my thought shine out and be discovered,
than I tremble for death, which is already
eating, with the teeth of Love, all my senses...
This directory is new and was born, because I am using WRITE directory for my Russian play(s). Webmaster in me panics, when the writer-in-me messing up the webpages. Well, I hope the (new) flash banners can help: just click on plays.vtheatre.net -- and you will get to the new plays directory (I'll call it "PLAYS II")...

Получается не одна, а две пьесы -- Речной Вокзал (Русская Пьеса, или даже "Московская" и Весенние Каникулы (в Америке, Отец и Сын мешают языки - теперь Сын из первой части -- Отец). Обе в двух действиях.

@2002 geoAlaska * NEXT: CALIGARI 2008 * stagematrix.com

Pre-publication version of an article to be published in the Moscow Times
June 14, 2002. Any and all quotations of, or references to, this article
must cite John Freedman. (c) 2002 John Freedman. The final version will be
available with accompanying photo on Friday in the Metropolis section at
www.themoscowtimes.com or www.tmtmetropolis.ru
By John Freedman

Even after the New Drama festival ended ten days ago, its activities
continued on. There were readings and discussions and meetings with writers,
all intended to help us better understand what is happening with
contemporary Russian drama today. And although the focus naturally was on
Russian writers, it was the presence of a young playwright from Georgia who
seemed to tie up the loose ends of the debate.

It sounds like an innocent enough problem -- so, what are playwrights up to?
-- but there is nothing simple about it. Lines are drawn, territories are
staked out, clans are at battle readiness, reputations are made and broken.

The shock waves from all of this go out around the globe. London's Royal
Court Theater, through the British Council, has been active in promoting
locally their specific, sociological, approach to the writing of new plays.
Russian playwrights are increasingly in demand in the United States -- the
Iowa Writers Program now includes Russian dramatists regularly in their
annual workshops; the Lark Theater in New York is developing a program
involving Russian writers.

Meanwhile, some observers scoff at the notion that anything of interest is
actually taking place. Following the Russian Case program of the Golden Mask
festival in April, several foreign observers echoed local skeptics,
complaining that Russian drama seemed old-fashioned and insignificant.

I'll show my cards immediately. I am not only an observer of this process,
but a participant. I have translated contemporary plays and I often have
spoken out in support of the notion that Russian drama is alive and well.

Perhaps I have been proven right by the fact that I now see as much to
criticize as to praise in new writing for the stage. That must say something
about variety and depth. This curious turn of events was brought home to me
by the New Drama festival and its aftermath.

Several distinct tendencies have emerged in the last few years, all of which
were represented in the festival. There are the strictly commercial writers,
churning out titillating bedroom farces, such as Nadezhda Ptushkina's "I Pay
in Advance," or pop-oriented fluff such as "Radio Day," written by Leonid
Barats, Sergei Petreikov and Rostislav Khait. There are what I call the poet
playwrights, creating unique, individual worlds that often challenge
audiences as much as please them. In this group I would include Olga
Mukhina's "YoU," Klim's "The Active Side of Endlessness," Oleg Shishkin's
"Anna Karenina - 2," and, perhaps, Mikhail Ugarov's "Oblom Off," which
deservingly was named the festival's best play.

And there are what we can call the sentimentalists. These are the writers
who, after Yevgeny Grishkovets, the popular, self-proclaimed "new
sentimentalist," are concerned with the little things in life, the foibles
and the endearing eccentricities that make humans human. In this line, the
festival brought us a single production combining three Grishkovets plays
into one -- "Simultaneously," "The Notes of a Russian Traveler" and
"Winter," all under the title of "Simultaneously" -- and a so-called
verbatim, or documentary play called "Coal Basin," created by the Lozha
Theater of Kemerovo on the basis of interviews with Kuzbass coal miners.

The increasing visibility of this type of play -- I'm not yet certain
whether we can use the word "popularity" in regards to any of the writers
besides Grishkovets -- became even more evident as events continued to
unfold after the festival's closing. A reading of Rodion Beletsky's play
called "The Conversation that Never Was" and last week's premiere at the
Playwright and Director Center of a new play by Mikhail Pokrass called
"About What Is Not Said" both employed the now familiar style in which the
main device is to observe the known and the main purpose is to encourage
spectators to recognize themselves and their habits in the actions of the

The play by Pokrass -- not a participant in the festival -- presents a
series of scenes focusing on a young woman who is misunderstood by her
mother and her boyfriend. It reminds us of our awkward youth and makes us
feel good either because we survived those awful days or because we are not
alone in having suffered them.

Beletsky's play appears more ambitious, but that is only on the surface. It
offers an imagined conversation, after death by drug overdose, of two
friends. But, as in "About What Is Not Said," the point here is merely to
activate warm feelings of sentiment about friendship lost. The topics of
death and despair -- we are talking about drug addicts here -- are buried in
a saccharine series of conversations implying that life can be good even
when it's bad.

The Lozha Theater's production of "Coal Basin" was similar. It takes the
potentially hard, gritty topic of people who live and die underground and
reduces it to a couple of mildly humorous anecdotes about a man missing his
wedding because he got drunk and a father who got drunk and thought his wife
left him when she didn't.

This appears to be the legacy of the impact Yevgeny Grishkovets has had with
his monologues about clumsy but lovable people encountering the trivial
dilemmas of the modern world. The banalities of Grishkovets' drama, usually
camouflaged to some extent by his own charming performances, were glaring in
the festival performance of "Simultaneously" by the Pushkin Theater of
Krasnoyarsk. Observations that people in airplanes above us are sitting on
toilets or a character's reminiscences about wanting a bicycle in childhood
have no purpose but to make us giggle at the silly or experience the
bittersweet taste of nostalgia.

Plays such as Olga Mukhina's "YoU" -- a work that, like an iron fist in a
velvet glove, seems quite gentile until its underlying theme of the tragedy
of a life unexamined hits home -- or Klim's "The Active Side of Endlessness"
stand a world apart. Klim's play -- its production by the Osobnyak Theater
of St. Petersburg won honors for best director (Alexei Yankovsky) and best
actor (Alexander Lykov) -- is a searing dialogue about theater as a place of
magic and life as a place where only risks are rewarded. Based on the
writings of Carlos Castaneda, this is a work of extraordinary power and
insight that stands entirely on its own.

Led by the award-winning "Oblom Off" and "Active Side of Endlessness," these
plays made a good showing in the festival. And yet, there was a sense that
they are in the distinct minority. The proliferation of feelgood plays has
been evident all season long.

That, perhaps, is why so many, myself included, perceived the barebones
readings of several short plays by the Georgian playwright Lasha Bugadze as
the crowning jewels of the festival. At age 25,  Bugadze already has five
plays running in his hometown of Tbilisi and the elegant translations by
Maya Mamaladze of his "Political Play," "Shocked Tatyana" and others seemed
to come to us as major discoveries.

In "Political Play," Bugadze created a deceptively light-hearted parable
about a modern-day Joan of Arc. Tsitsino, a girl of 19, drives her family
crazy because she believes she hears the voices of the saints and has been
called upon to end the war in Chechnya. However, neither God nor the devil
have ever heard of her.

In the short monologue "Shocked Tatyana" a woman bemoans the fact that the
neighbor idiot has died a hero on the field of battle while her fine,
upstanding husband must ignonimously sit home and fix the headlight on their
son's bicycle.

The humor, insight, conscience and inherent theatricality of these works
stood in sharp contrast to the superficial, even lowly, aspirations of so
many of the plays in the festival. Bugadze, with a wise smile unexpected in
a man of his tender age, wants not to reassure us, but rather to rouse us.
He is the prototypical artist, an outsider throwing down the gauntlet before
man, woman and God.

If contemporary drama, Russian or otherwise, is going to mean anything, I
suspect this is where it must go -- into the fray of disturbing ideas and
unusual forms. Television comfortably regurgitates experience to us
endlessly. Theater, say Bugadze, Klim, Mukhina and Ugarov, has a different