Blog | From Russia with Courage

From Russia with Courage

By admin | August 31, 2017
Is the Kremlin trying to shut down theatre director Kirill S. Serebrennikov because his satire hits too close to home? Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko, File/Associated Press.

Is the Kremlin trying to shut down theatre director Kirill S. Serebrennikov because his satire hits too close to home? Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko, File/Associated Press.

by Colin Thomas

From Russia with Courage

The very bad news: Russian authorities have detained popular theatre director Kirill S. Serebrennikov, accused him of embezzling more than a million dollars in government funds, and placed him under house arrest.

Serebrennikov leads the Gogol Center, a high-profile Moscow venue, where he has attracted a large and faithful audience by presenting satires that mock government lies and corruption.

Serebrennikov denies the embezzlement charges. “I am an honest man,” he has told the Russian court. “I have nothing apart from Russia and work in Russian culture.”

The hopeful news: In Moscow, protesters are demonstrating in support of the popular director, and other progressive artists are speaking out. “I am upset, angry, and depressed,” says editor and publisher Irina Prokhorova. “This is reminiscent of the sad examples from our past. It’s an obvious message to creative people and intellectual society: this is what will happen to everyone who does not submit.”

Cate Blanchett is among the internationally renowned artists calling for Serebrennikov’s release.

The good news: theatre frightens autocrats.

Bummer! Comedians Adrienne Truscott, Ursula Martinez, and Zoe Coombs Marr don’t like some of the criticism they’ve received so, in Wild Bore, they’re turning the other cheek. Photo by David Monteith-Hodge.

Bummer! Comedians Adrienne Truscott, Ursula Martinez, and Zoe Coombs Marr don’t like some of the criticism they’ve received so, in Wild Bore, they’re turning the other cheek. Photo by David Monteith-Hodge.

Critics and assholes: same same?

In The Stage, associate editor Mark Shenton talks about Wild Bore, a show presented at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe in which three comedians literally talk out of their assholes—well, they stage it to look that way—while quoting negative reviews they’ve received.

Shenton uses that as a jumping-off point to consider the current state of criticism. Critics are everywhere these days, but hardly anybody is getting paid to do the job anymore. Is that a good thing? I don’t think so. Then again, I’m biased.

Show, girl!

Toronto actor Sandra Caldwell had gender surgery at 19. She went on to become a showgirl in New York, then in Europe, including at the Moulin Rouge. In Toronto, she has been known for years as a “foxy, sexy, actress and singer.”

Trans actor Sandra Caldwell speaks with her trans director Will Davis. They’re on Broadway. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

Trans actor Sandra Caldwell speaks with her trans director Will Davis. They’re on Broadway. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

Now, at 65, Caldwell is finally coming out as trans so that she can play a character who is very much like herself in a play called Charm on Broadway.

Buy this ticket (seriously)

The staggering Betroffenheit is returning to Vancouver, but only for two performances: March 16 and 17, 2018. The last time this international hit played its hometown, both performances sold out immediately.

You want to see Betroffenheit. It may be the most powerful performance I’ve ever witnessed.

To get tickets, you can sign up for a season’s pass to DanceHouse which is presenting Betroffenheit as part of its 2017-2018 program. Starting on September 5, you can also buy tickets to individual performances.

A dance/theatre hybrid, Betroffenheit, which was created by Jonathon Young (Electric Company Theatre) and Crystal Pite (Kidd Pivot) uses a compelling visceral and visual vocabulary to approach grief, addiction, and accommodation.

It’s a profound and original work of art. That’s why we gave it the Critics’ Choice Innovation Award at the Jessies in 2016, and, on a whole other scale, that’s why it won the Olivier Award for best new dance production in London this year.

Come up and see me sometime

There’s even more fun to be had on my blog at Vancouver Greenroom.

Come on over, check out the content, and sign up for my newsletter. Starting on September 7, the first day of the Fringe, I’ll be posting tons of Vancouver Fringe Festival reviews on Greenroom. A couple of fresh, young critics will join me. And you can get all of our reviews delivered straight to your inbox.

In England, the York Theatre Royal has invited people who don’t go to the theatre to advise them on their programming. Is this madness? Nope.

In England, the York Theatre Royal has invited people who don’t go to the theatre to advise them on their programming. Is this madness? Nope.

Throughout the regular season, you’ll also have access to all of my reviews—including the negative ones—through my newsletter.

This week’s issue of Greenroom starts off with a piece about an English company that’s including non-theatregoers in its programming process, a touching look at South Pacific‘s historical context, celebration of more Canuck success in Edinburgh, an alert about an acting scholarship, and an admission of my brainlessness.

Bonus: drag photo of yours truly.

 

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