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. Last Updated: 09/29/2014
Articles by John Freedman

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Solzhenitsyn Spat Sees Mironov Attack Putin Ally

A Literaturnaya Gazeta critic's attack on Alexander Solzhenitsyn causes a war of words as Solzhenitsyn's widow comes to his defense.

Coupling, Uncoupling Told With Grace and Flair

Love as death, death as love. No, Timofei Kulyabin's production of "#shakespearessonnets" at the Theater of Nations is not a satire. Although some of the humor is so dry it puckers.

From a Park Reader to Chervikus Knigus and Putin

I swear it's not my fault. I just went for a walk and happened to see a nice image come into my camera's viewfinder. I took the picture of a woman in a park reading a book next to an outdoor library and I got to thinking: books, literature, Russia.

Topsy-Turvy World in Krymov's Take on Ostrovsky

A rough play for rough times. Dmitry Krymov staged Alexander Ostrovsky's old "Late Love" at the School of Dramatic Art and turned it into a bitter, devastating exposé of the world around him.

New Theater Season Focuses on Old, Not New

Well, there's one good thing. A check of shows opening in the first weeks of the coming theater season reveals not a single old Anton Chekhov play. But if you think that means Moscow's theaters have set their sights on contemporary topics, think again.

Lyubimovka Marks Real Start of Theater Season

It's not quite true that the Lyubimovka play festival is the first real event of each theater season in Moscow. This year, for example, some 10 top venues, including the Moscow Art Theater, the Mayakovsky and the Gogol Center, are already up and running.

The Winners of the 22nd Moscow Times Theater Awards

What a year. Drama. Histrionics. Villainy. Hubris. Intrigue. Tragedy. And I haven't even begun considering the 2013-2014 theater season.

New Era Looms After Golden Age of 'New Drama'

It has been an astonishing run. But doesn't every run come to an end?

Art World Expats Mull Russia's Future as Tensions Rise

Foreigners working in the cultural community speak to Moscow Times theater critic John Freedman about life in the city today.

Director Volkostrelov Brings 'Slice of Life' to Stage

It struck me as a sign from above. I was waiting for Dmitry Volkostrelov in a Moscow coffee shop and a television was showing a story about the Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia, whom a crawler text identified as "one of the greatest realists" of the 20th century.

The Nightmare of Being a Russian-Language Ukrainian Playwright

"I don't know what to do about it, John. It is a nightmare and it is hell. And something in me has been broken irreparably."

Raikin Puts Post-Soviet Spin on Wesker’s Kitchen

Arnold Wesker’s “The Kitchen,” written in 1957, is something of a poetic cry of the soul. It fairly seems to scream, “Why can’t people get along?!” And that is precisely the message that Konstantin Raikin hammers on at length in his sparkling, swift-moving production of the play at the Satirikon Theater.

Russian Blog Post Decrying Government's Internet Crackdown Goes Viral

Imagine a world in which law enforcement agencies have direct access to the data you store in social media, you are subject to arrest and prison if on social media you repost or retweet anything that the government disapproves of, you are banned from casting doubt on the government's official version of the history of World War II, and no one, but no one, publicly curses about these or any other issues.

Old-Fashioned Feel to Revival of 'Game Over'

“Plus ca change,” the French say, “plus c’est la meme chose.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s a great phrase. I love it. It’s French. It sounds cool. And sometimes it’s true. But it’s not always true.

Cultural Battle Goes on, Gogol Center Under Attack

As a law took effect last week banning obscenities in works of art, and as Russian parliamentarian Yelena Mizulina — the author of the so-called anti-Magnitsky law banning adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens — pushed creating a law that would require individuals to use their passport to gain access to the Internet, we continued to see signs that the turmoil lately engulfing Russian culture and media is not about to let up.

'Elder Sister' Shows Soviet Writer Volodin's Subtlety

It's not enough for a revival, we'd need a third for that. But we had two major productions of plays by the highly respected Soviet playwright Alexander Volodin this season — Genrietta Yanovskaya's moving rendition of "Don't Part With Those You Love" at the Theater Yunogo Zritelya, and now Vladimir Skvortsov's "The Elder Sister" at the Et Cetera Theater.

Moscow's Culture Codes

If you have walked anywhere in Moscow you have seen them, the blue squares with the qr codes in the middle and the white writing on them. If you have a smart phone you may have even tried accessing the information those codes provide access to.

Durnenkov Succeeds With Sensitive, Probing 'Victory Day'

It has been quite a season for Mikhail Durnenkov. It began in September when the playwright took over the running of the Lyubimovka festival and breathed new life into this institution of Russian play development.

Few Russian Artists Bother to Fight Creeping Trend of Censorship

As we approach July 1, the day after which obscenities will officially be banned in Russian art, the Russian creative community is doing what it can to make sense of a concerted push on the part of the government to regulate the arts and artistic expression.

Ingeborga Dapkunaite Stars in Pulinovich's Latest Play 'Zhanna'

Yaroslava Pulinovich has been a leading Russian playwright for half a decade yet her 27th birthday arrives only next month.

Moscow's Muzeon Arts Park

There's going to be rain this week, but for the most part it should be what Russian calls "little" rain. Just enough occasional drops to keep that lovely fresh smell in the air and to keep the plants and trees and flowers perky and healthy.

Volkostrelov Resurrects Soviet '60s

In "1968. Novy Mir" at the Taganka Theater, Dmitry Volkostrelov shrewdly found a way to combine aesthetics, artistic methods and themes that are capable of unifying that distant era with the world we inhabit.

Russian Theater Bids Fond Farewell to the F-word

Russia’s newest law employing repressive action to regulate behavior and culture will take effect July 1. The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in early May, will ban the use of obscenities in “television, cinema, literature, mass media, concerts and theatrical productions,” according to Vedomosti.

'Fields Enter the Door' Shows off Rebuilt Playwright Center

It has been a long season for Moscow's two newest artistic directors. A year ago the Moscow Culture Committee made the astonishing announcement that Boris Yukhananov and his longtime colleague Klim had been appointed to run the Stanislavsky Theater and the Playwright and Director Center, respectively.

In Search of Forgotten Artist Vladimir Izenberg

The name Vladimir Izenberg does not say a lot in and of itself. It's not one that calls up images or eras, great schools or great events.

Russian Theater Director Lev Erenburg Goes All Out in 'Without a Dowry'

It is a paradox that director Lev Erenburg rather quietly moved into the first rank of Russia's theater directors. His bold, dynamic shows are anything but tranquil.

Kultura Newspaper Condemns Contemporary Theater Again

I forced myself to read the entire article. It was not easy to do. But it had to be done.

Bogomolov Shows Why He's Moscow's Most Popular Director

Konstantin Bogomolov has grabbed the position of Moscow's most popular director in recent years with a stream of controversial, flamboyant productions, mostly at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater. His latest outing, a typically audacious dramatization of Francois Rabelais' "Gargantua and Pantagruel," was mounted at the Theater of Nations.

Medinsky the Media Magnet

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky received an honorary fellowship on Thursday a few days late and not quite as planned.

Pirandello's 'Mountain Giants' Lacks Human Warmth

Luigi Pirandello is not a frequent visitor on Russian stages these days. You can see why in a production of his last, unfinished play, "The Mountain Giants," at the Fomenko Studio. Obscure, abstract and philosophical, his plays can seem bereft of human warmth or interest.
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