Theatre: Semester 1 Week 11

Eleven weeks of theatre in Moscow isn’t enough to see everything, not even close, but we did try to offer our students a taste of what is happening at GITIS, with GITIS alumni and professors, and in Moscow.

Our last week of theatre we stayed close to home and saw some amazing  professional work that was all connected to GITIS in one way or another.

Thursday, May 30: КАФЕ БУТО`Н (Cafe Button)

Another exciting show directed by Oleg Glushkov full of expressive movement and featuring a chicken. Be sure to check out some great production photos here.

Friday, May 31: КАТЯ, СОНЯ, ПОЛЯ, ГАЛЯ, ВЕРА, ОЛЯ, ТАНЯ… (Katya, Sonya, Polya, Galya, Vera, Olya, Tanya…)

A very long title for a whirlwind of a show. Dmitry Krymov pushes boundaries in this amazing piece. You may not be able to yell fire in a theatre,  but he will be sure to come as close as he can. Follow the link about to read more about the show, see some reviews and some production photos.

Sunday, June 2: Marienbad

This show opened in 2005 as a diploma show for the GITIS class of 2006. It has been running ever since and with good reason. A story of love, loss and home, Marienbad pulls on your heartstrings without forgetting to tickle your funny bone too. Our Improv professor, Anastasia Imamova, is in the cast and invited us as her guests. It was such a treat to see the work that she herself did as a student and has continued for years since. Follow the link about to read more about the show, see some reviews and some production photos.



Theatre: Week 10

Here we are at the end of Week 10 in our 11 week course. Wow! I’m sure you can imagine that everyone is running around trying to see the shows that they’ve wanted to see for weeks before it’s time to end the semester. On top of that, people are inviting us to more shows than ever. We had six shows scheduled over the last five days and on top of that more shows students chose to see on their own. Obviously it was impossible for everyone to see everything. Often our group was parting ways to collectively see as much theatre as possible.

For the sake of simplicity, this week we’ll just highlight two particularly special shows for the group.

Monday, May 20: “Evgeny Onegin” at Vakhtangov Theatre

Evgeny Onegin is Pushkin’s most famous work. It has been brought to life on stage many times and in very many ways. This production at Vakhtangov Theatre, directed by Rimas Tuminas, is in its premiere. Tuminas is a very well known director and his work is very popular. Earlier in the semester our students saw his “Uncle Vanya.” After seeing “Uncle Vanya,” “Evgeny Onegin” jumped to the top of our student’s must see lists. Why? Tuminas has a way of taking a story his audience knows so well, stripping it to it’s bare bones and pulling out something fresh while managing to keep and highlight the author’s intention.

Wednesday, May 22: “Mayakovsky: Top Secret” at Plum Palm Theatre

Our biomechanics class with our professor Maria at her show “Mayakovsky: Top Secret.”

Plum Palm is a tiny theatre space. A room, that seems to serve as an art gallery by day, with a few lighting instruments and a few chairs for the audience. It’s a great reminder that theatre can happen anywhere. Most of our theatre experiences in Moscow are at the large state theatres. Thanks to the invitation by our Biomechanics professor and director of “Mayakovsky: Top Secret”, Maria Shmevich, we had the great chance to sit in an audience of less than twenty for an intimate and fresh theatre experience. The show was based on the poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky and was rich with movement. Seeing this show was a great way for our students to see the work that they are doing with Maria in class on the stage and to understand how it can be used and how it can develop.

Theatre: Weeks 8 and 9

Now that everyone has been here for two months there is a greater sense of independence. These last two weeks we only scheduled one show a week instead of our three show average. Why? There are many reasons. The academic schedule was busy, the beginning of May in Moscow is busy, we were also planning a cultural excursion (stay tuned for that blog post), and most importantly, students were choosing shows themselves and going on their own. It’s important to have time to do that. The end of May is going to be very very full of performances to see so there won’t be a chance then for students to go out on there on to the shows that they choose. You may remember from a previous post that we often have invitations to shows. We already have many for the next few weeks, but I am sure a few more will come up. There are so  many things to see before the semester ends in two weeks.

So, how do our students go to the theatre alone? Every student in Moscow has special documentation (equivalent to the American Student ID) that identifies them as a current student at their school. The card also gives students discounts in the metro, some restaurants, some museums, etc. For a theatre student, this card means that almost any theatre in Moscow will admit you into performances for free. There may not be a seat for you if they are sold out, but you can see the show from the back or from the steps. With most theatres running their shows in repertory that gives students hundreds (if not thousands) of choices of shows to see. This is a dream come true for any theatre student!

This brings us to our two theatre picks for the last two weeks:

Week 8: Волшебная Флейта (The Magic Flute) at The Musical Theatre named for Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko

Mozart’s opera is brought to life in this modern staging. The director took the freedom to change the characters a bit, do some editing and place them in a different setting. Small scenes in Russian were also added in between the German libretto. The movement and usage of space was very fresh and unique to the show. To give you a sense of what we saw the production photos are linked to the Week 8 heading. Enjoy!

 Week 9: Мастер и Маргарита (The Master and Margarita) at The Moscow Art Theatre

May 15 was Mikhail Bulgakov’s birthday. Conveniently, it was also the day that we had tickets for the Moscow Art Theatre’s production of The Master and Margarita. What a great way to celebrate the anniversary of the author’s birth.

The Moscow Art Theatre (MXT) is undoubtably Russia’s most famous theatre. Their productions are huge. The events of Bulgakov’s book are also huge (*spoilers*): a beheading, lots of black magic, a flying woman, a talking cat, disappearing people and more. How could it all be done on stage? MXT found a way. Like the book the show was daring, bold and rhythmic, bringing  a shock to the audience just when they were beginning to feel comfortable. Be sure to click the link to production photos in the Week 9 title!

Next week we have assigned shows almost every day of the week! Be sure to check back!



Theatre: Weeks 6 and 7

Something really great about the community at GITIS is that someone is always inviting our entire group to shows that they have worked on, have friends who are working on them, or just really enjoyed. This happens on the student and professional level. We are invited by other students, by faculty members, by teaching artists and by administrators. Sometimes the invitation comes with a lot of notice and sometimes with none at all. Sometimes we have tickets to multiple shows in one night. This is a wonderful problem to have.

Week 6:

April 22: Woo Zoo

This week was a week of theatre invitations. First, Oleg Glushkov invited us to see a show that he had directed and choreographed for Fourth Year Directing Department students at GITIS. This is a devised work that Glushkov made with the students. Like his classes and his other work it is movement based. Each piece took very simple occurrences (the wind blowing, the sun shining, speech patterns, putting on a record, turning on a tv, etc.) and made them interesting enough to engage an audience for 90 minutes. Glushkov is constantly reminding students that it doesn’t matter what you do on stage, just how you do it. This show was a great study of that concept.

April 27: What’s the Buzz?

We finished out Week 6 of theatre going with an invitation to see a show only minutes before the performance started. Everyone was already at the theatre having a meeting with Krymov and Garkalin about next semesters course (we accomplished a lot in the meeting and everyone is looking forward to diving right in to an intense semester with them in the fall). During the meeting tickets arrived for us to the show that would be starting five minutes after our meeting ended. Since we were in an office backstage, it was very easy to agree to the short notice and step right on in to the audience minutes later.

The show was titled “What’s the Buzz?” It is a concert of music that GITIS students put together. The students requested our attendance and GITIS administration reserved seats in the second row center for us. This isn’t always the case, of course, but it’s an example of the excitement that the students have about their work.

This concert was divided into two parts. The first was a series of traditional Russian Folk music. The second was a medley of songs from Jesus Christ Super Star. It wasn’t really clear to any of us how these two pieces fit together in one concert, but it was clear that this was all music that these students wanted to work on and they did and they really committed to their work. It was an honor to be their guests.

Week 7:

Both of this week’s shows are directed by Dmitry Krymov who our students will be studying directing with for the Fall 2013 semester.

April 30: Демон (Demon)


Demon is loosely based on Pushkin’s poem of the same name. The subtitle of the play translates to “The View from Above.” The performance takes place in a cylindrical tower where the audience sits in the round on three stories. The action takes place one floor below the “first row.” Because everything happens below the audience the floor is the only scenery they can see. The floor is made of paper and plastic and is constantly being transformed by the actors by ripping, painting and adding elements to it to tell their story.

We could try to describe what we saw, but a picture is worth a thousand words and there as some wonderful production photos on the Krymov Lab website!



May 2: Opus No. 7

Opus No. 7

This is one of Krymov’s most popular productions. It is divided into two parts. The first is called “Genealogy” and the second “Shostakovich.” “Genealogy” is a reflection on and an artistic interpretation of the holocaust unlike anything imaginable. “Shostakovich” is the tale  of the late composer, his life, his relationship with the Soviet Union and his art. The show is constantly pulling the audiences through a huge array of emotions using scenery, music, and even giant puppets to take us through two very huge stories in one evening of theatre.

See a glimpse of what we saw for yourself!

Theatre: Weeks 4 and 5

Instead of just telling you about the theatre that we have seen recently we thought we would try something new and let you see what our students are saying about what they are seeing. The time we spend at the theatre is very precious and a lot of discoveries are made and interesting conversations started while we are there. Please be sure to click on the show names to link to production photos of the great work that we have seen!


Monday, April 8: Три сестры (Three Sisters) Fomenko Theatre

This traditional staging of Chekhov’s classic takes the audience into a well known story with a few twists and turns.

“For me, this production was about relationships: the relationship of each character with every other character, the relationship between reality and theatrics, and even the relationship between the playwright and his play. I know the story well, but there are some things that the text alone can’t tell you. Fomenko really told the story of these people and their relationships through the pauses which, I believe, is what Chekhov intended.” – Greer Gerni


Thursday, April 11: Моряки и шлюхи (Sailors and Whores) Fomenko Theatre

Oleg Glushkov who has been teaching an acting/movement course to our students directed this dance-theatre production. This is a new show and we put it on the schedule as per the request of our students who became more curious about his work and what it would mean for a whole production. The work that Glushkov is doing is really very interesting and unique and we are so thrilled to offer his class as part of our course. Seeing his new show really enhanced the classroom experience.

“Oleg Glushkov has a REALLY fascinating way of moving and choreographing, and his show was exciting and interesting to watch. He blends awkward with grace, and subtle gestures with dramatic full-body movements. To me it was all about loveless sex and loveless marriage. It was a lot of fun to watch, and made me even more grateful for the opportunity to work with him.” – Eliana Sigel-Epstein


Friday, April 12: Дядя Ваня (Uncle Vanya) Vakhtongov Theatre

This production of Uncle Vanya is a great contrast to the production of Three Sisters that we saw earlier in the week. It is very abstract, and yet, so true to the text.

“I had actually seen this production when I was in Moscow in 2009. It was one of my favorites, so I was very excited to see it again. Watching this production again 3 years later was, of course, interesting. On the one hand, I found the production just as captivating as the first time I saw it. The play operated under an absurdist logic that was evocative and fascinating. The environment and sound design were terrific – creating “atmosphere” far more effectively than chirping birds and realistic lighting. The opening music for each act was, actually, the melody of Kol Nidre, a prayer sung on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the years for Jewish people. So, imagine this haunting melody preceding Astrov’s opening monologue about the drudgery and pain of life – my heart aches in just remembering it. I loved the interpretations of Sonya and Vanya, and there were some incredible moments of love and compassion between them. I guess what bothered me the most was the interpretation of Yelena as cold-hearted and robotic. I have a lot of compassion for Yelena personally and see her more as a woman teetering on the edge, grasping for control, than maniacal. Though, I did enjoy her behavior after her and Astrov’s “interrogation” that lead into her desperation to leave the estate. In all, I thought it was incredibly well done and fascinating, but I ESPECIALLY loved that it made me think — not only about the play, but also in how to convey moments among characters with just enough touch of absurdism to make you feel that you are watching something that transcends daily life.” – Eliana Sigel-Epstein


Saturday, April 13: Чайка (The Seagull) Satyricon Theatre

This production of The Seagull is very popular in Moscow right now and is sure to change anyone’s perspective on what can be done with Chekhov.

“This five hour production, directed by one of my favorite directors in Moscow, Yuri Butusov, was out of this world — it felt beyond what I typically see at the theatre. To be fair, it actually shared a lot of similarities with the Uncle Vanya we saw the night before. The actors’ behavior was never restrained by the need to seem realistic or “believable” but still remained honest and true. Like Yelena in Uncle Vanya at Vakhtangov, Arkadina was nothing but destructive and maniacal. In fact, she had even less humanity than Yelena. But I saw this Arkadina as a symbol rather than a person. That was my least favorite thing about the production. What I did love about it was that it seemed to be a reaction to the play, rather than bringing the play to life. It was about artists understanding creation and themselves, experiencing pain and hurting one another. It was rough, with stagehands frequently entering the space and unceremoniously removing a prop. It was messy and cluttered – a vomit of expression on stage. It was an act of rebellion against the play that started it all. I struggled with this production, both watching it and thinking about it later. What was happening? What was going on? How is this connected to the Чайка I’ve read? Why exactly did I like it? And I’m still struggling a lot with those questions. Which is awesome. It’s a production I could see again and again, extracting more meaning from it each time, and I’m looking forward to seeing it at least once more during my time in Moscow.” – Eliana Sigel-Esptein


Tuesday, April 16: Три выцокие женщины (Three Tall Women) Maloi Bronnoi Theatre

This production is very minimalist allowing the text itself to be the highlighted feature.

“This was the first type of smaller-time theatre that we had gone to in Moscow. The budget was smaller and we were left with only actors on a relatively bare state. I appreciated this opportunity to make for a more well-rounded theatre experience. – Emily Larson


Friday, April 19: Ромео и Джульетта (Romeo and Juliet) Satyricon Theatre 

This is a new production at Satyricon directed by Konstantin Raikin with a cast mainly made up of his fourth-year students at MXAT. This was a perfect way for our students to finish off a week of analyzing Romeo and Juliet in their Acting/Directing class.

“This production of Romeo and Juliet was nothing like the dusty image we often have of how this play should be done. It is fresh, it is young, it is a whirlwind of action and emotion. For once, I was able to justify to myself why every event and choice happens that lead to Romeo and Juliet’s tragedy and I was able to allow myself to get caught up the rush of it all and to feel the rapidly changing mix of emotions that I have always wanted to feel from this play.” – Greer Gerni

“It was the first time I ever felt bad for Romeo and Juliet.” – Daniel Barnes

Theatre: Semester 1 Weeks 2 and 3

We have two weeks of theatre to catch everyone up on before we start our busiest week of theatre going yet!

Week 2:

Торги (The Auction)

Our first show of the week was another Krymov piece: “Торги” (The Auction.) This show is based on the Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” “Uncle Vanya,” “The Seagull,” and “Cherry Orchard.” Only text from these plays are used in this show, but the results are not your typical Chekhov play, of course. Production photos and additional information is available here.

Sunday we saw “МЫкарамозоВы” a Moscow Art Theatre School Diploma Show based on Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamozov. The show was based on studies that the students did on the characters of this iconic novel. The show draws a connection between these seemingly distant fictional characters and the common man using etudes, text and music. Interestingly, the large cast works in an extremely closed in, colorless space very close to the audience which certainly helps achieve the goal of the work that they are doing.

Week 3:

Krymov’s Gorky 10

This week we had a very rare and wonderful opportunity to sit in on a run through of GITIS’s newest student show Schiller’s “The Robbers” (Разбойники) directed by Yuriy Butusov. This was a great opportunity for many reasons for us. This cast of five young ladies (yes, this is quite a unique choice for this show) who also study at GITIS were working in the tender stage of the run throughs before an opening in a new space. This is no easy task. Butusov is a very famous director in Moscow and our students are very fond of his work. Before the run through started we had the opportunity to hear directly from him his thoughts on the work. We are so thankful that we were able to experience this show before opening night!

Later in the week we saw Krymov’s “Gorky 10.” This is a very whimsical and absurd farce based on Lenin’s time spent in Gorky 10, the country house of Russian leaders. The show is extremely imaginative. The entire first half is the same scene over and over becoming more and more absurd each time. The audience can never be sure what will happen next. The absurdity is so carefully crafted and perfectly placed to create an extremely interesting and effective piece of theatre.

Saturday afternoon we took a trip to the Fomenko Theatre to see their children’s theatre production of “Алиса в Зазеркалье” (Alice through the Looking Glass.) This is a high budget, high energy show geared for children. The environment is, of course, very different than most of what we have seen in Moscow.We chose this show because we intend to expose our students to all types of theatre. There were many staging choices and special effects that particularly interested our students.

Please do check out the links to the websites for each of these fantastic productions and stay tuned for next week’s selections!