John Freedman

Click here to edit subtitle


view:  full / summary

Valery Belyakovich Dies at age 66

Posted by John Freedman on December 6, 2016 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Valery Belyakovich, born Aug. 25, 1950, died today, December 6, 2016. The founder, in 1977, of the Southwest Theatre (for many years - the Southwest Theatre Studio). The theatre toured to the US many times; he had many friends there. His theatre in Moscow was one of the great cult favorites for decades - a status that is very hard to sustain. Moscow without Valery will be colder and more monotonous. He was a unique man and artist and he built a unique theatre from scratch. I'll never forget his brilliant one-day production of Sukhovo-Kobylin's entire trilogy. I would call that historical. His productions of Sorokin's "Dostoevsky-Trip" and Erdman's "The Suicide" - among others - were bracingly unexpected and truly powerful. He was 66.

Vladimir Zeldin Dies at 101

Posted by John Freedman on October 31, 2016 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

One of Russia's most beloved actors, Vladimir Zeldin, has died at the age of 101. Zeldin starred in countless popular productions at the Soviet Army Theater, where he began working in 1945, and continued on for decades at the Russian Army Theater after the venue was renamed in the early 1990s. According to RIA Novosti Zeldin spent his 101st birthday, Feb. 10, as he always did throughout his life, on stage performing. He continued performing through the end of the season. He spent most of the month of October in the hospital. Zeldin made his professional debut on stage in the Transport Theater in Moscow in 1938 (this is now Gogol-Center). The Russian press claims that he holds the Guinness Book record for the oldest actor to perform regularly on stage, although the Guinness Book site actually lists a Bulgarian actor aged 94. So, whether it is official or not, Zeldin was obviously the true record holder. In addition to his countless roles in theater, he also performed numerous memorable roles in film, "Tale of Siberian Lands" (1947), "Carnival Night (!956) and "Uncle Vanya" (1970). 

Elyse Dodgson and Alexander Zeldovich at Stanislavsky Electrotheatre

Posted by John Freedman on October 12, 2016 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

On October 10, 2016, Elyse Dodgson, of the Royal Court Theater, and Alexander Zeldovich, director of Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis at the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre, came together for a discussion of Kane, her last play, and Zeldovich's production of it. You can watch the archived livestream on the HowlRound website

Donate to Teatr.doc

Posted by John Freedman on September 28, 2016 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

It is now possible to support financially a theater that you have probably read about and been amazed by for years. Teatr.doc has opened a new donation page on its website. It's easy to use. Everything you need to know to donate is written in English. The Russian phrase is not crucial to the donation process. It simply says, "Current work and development." 

Pavel Khomsky, Artistic Director at the Mossovet, Dies

Posted by John Freedman on September 8, 2016 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Pavel Khomsky, the longtime leader of the Mossovet Theater in Moscow, died Sept. 6, 2016, at the age of 91. Khomsky was a fixture in Moscow theater, having run the Mossovet - one of the city's most popular venues - as Chief Director from 1985 to 2000, and from 2000 to 2016 as artistic director. He began his career by studying to be an actor in Leningrad, but ended up graduating as a director from the Studio of the Stanislavsky Opera and Drama Theater (today the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre). He began acting at the Russian Drama Theater in Riga in 1948, and debuted as a director at the Riga Young Spectator Theater in 1951. He was named head director at that theater in 1956. From 1961 to 1965 he was chief director at Leningrad's Theater of the Komsomol. He took over the Moscow Young Spectator Theater in 1973, with his next major move taking him to the Mossovet. He staged over 140 productions in his career. His lfirst was Nikolai Gogol's "The Marriage"; his last was Leonid Zorin's "A Roman Comedy (Dione)" in 2014. 

Nikolai Roshchin Joins the Alexandrinsky

Posted by John Freedman on August 30, 2016 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Nikolai Roshchin, one of Moscow's most unorthodox and most interesting directors, has been appointed to the position of Chief Director of the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. According to" target="_blank">RIA Novosti, the announcement was made by Valery Fokin, the artistic director at the Alexandrinsky. It is not common anymore in Russian for a playhouse to have both an artistic director and a chief director. Roshchin has mounted several productions in St. Petersburg over the last few years, while his own ARTO Theater in Moscow has had increasing problems. The space they have occupied for many years has been under reconstruction, often leaving the troupe with no place to perform. Roshchin said that his first production in his new job will be of Vladimir Mayakovsky's "The Bathhouse," in 2017. Roshchin's appointment comes just a few days after Marat Gatsalov, the artistic director of the Alexandrinsky's New Stage was informed that his position had been nullified altogether.

Gatsalov Leaves Alexandrinsky New Stage

Posted by John Freedman on August 27, 2016 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Marat Gatsalov has left (been removed from) his position as artistic director of the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Gatsalov replaced Andrei Moguchy in the position in 2013 after the latter was unexpectedly appointed artistic director of the Bolshoi Drama Theater. Gatsalov told Teatral magazine that Alexandrinsky Artistic Director Valery Fokin informed him of the changes due to a restructuring of the way the Alexandrinsky is organized. Apparently the New Stage will no longer support a position of artistic director. Gatsalov apparently will return to Moscow where his career took off some six or seven years ago with some memorable productions at Teatr.doc. According to the blurb in Teatral, Gatsalov is already rehearsing Duncan MacMillan's "Lungs" at the Theater of Nations for a late fall premiere. 

Pankov to Head Playwright and Director Center

Posted by John Freedman on August 25, 2016 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Vladimir Pankov of SounDrama fame was tapped to head up the rudderless Playwright and Director Center in the middle of August. It is an encouraging move for several reasons. The Center has been drifting aimlessly over the last few years. The annoiuncement three years ago that Klim would be the artistic director never quite panned out. Klim was allowed to work at the Center, but was never given any power. A corrupt director ran the show from the dark recesses, virtually running the Center into the ground. He was recently fired and Pankov, who staged his first show at Alexei Kazantsev's Playwright and Director Center over a decade ago, was named to replace him. Pankov told RIA-Novosti that he has every intention of reviving the spirit of Kazantsev at the theater. He announced that his first production there will be "Moscow - the Open City. Transition," a nod to the experimental multi-author, multi-director show that was one of the Center's first big successes some 16 years ago. Read more at

Dmitry Krymov interview in Bomb magazine

Posted by John Freedman on July 12, 2016 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

My interview with Dmitry Krymov, published a month ago in Bomb magazine, is now available online. You can read it here

Russian Theater to Show in US Movie Houses

Posted by John Freedman on May 29, 2016 at 3:45 AM Comments comments (0)

[This report has been expanded and corrected since the original post 30 minutes ago.]

American Eddie Aronoff Cardillo's Stage Russia has struck a deal that will lead to the showing of at least nine contemporary Russian theater production in film theaters in the United States. Some of the shows that will be shown are: Rimas Tuminas' production of Alexander Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin," Anzhelika Kholina's dance production of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" and Yury Butusov's rendition of Mikhail Bulgakov's "Flight" at the Vakhtangov Theatre, Adolf Shpiro's rendition of Chekhov's  "The Cherry Orchard" at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater, Kama Ginkas's version of Chekhov's "The Black Monk" at the Young Spectator Theater, Sergei Zhenovach's staging of Nikolai Erdman's "The Suicide" at the Studio of Theatrical Art, Galina Volchek's staging of Erich Maria Remarque's "Three Comrades" at the Sovremennik.  The first broadcast will take place in September 2016; the last  in June 2017. Aronoff Cardillo tells me that two of the shows - "Onegin" and "Cherry Orchard"  -  have already been filmed. You can follow developments at the Stage Russia website, but information even there is not fully correct. Things are happening, and so changing, quickly. There is also a" target="_blank">Facebook page that may reflect changes in a more timely fashion. 

Here is part of a report carried by 

"Film versions of performances by the Vakhtangov Theatre, the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater, the Sovremennik and other Moscow theaters will begin showing in September in the US, according to RIA Novosti. [...]

"Eddie Aronoff, who conceived the program, said the idea is to embrace a wide variety of genres and styles. 'There are classical performances, dance performances and satirical Soviet surrealism. Some productions are already familiar to spectators, some less known to Western audiences, but they all open up a window on what is called the Russian soul,' he said.

"Eight performances are planned for the first season of the project, from September 2016 to June 2017. Other theaters included are the Studio of Theatrical Art and the Moscow Young Spectator Theater. ..."