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Articles by John Freedman



Golden Mask Festival Comes to Moscow Again

The 21st running of the Golden Mask Festival is as big and sprawling and time-consuming as it has ever been. The days of the Golden Mask as a localized opportunity to showcase and honor some of the best theater from the previous season is long gone. It is now a big business operation.

12 Things to See on Moscow's Theater Night

For the third year in a row on March 26, the eve of World Theater Day, most of Moscow's theaters Ч a total of over 70 Ч will throw open their doors, their backstages and their archives to their fans. The general theme for this year's Night in Theater program, run by the Moscow Culture Committee, is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Nilo Cruz Comes to See His Tolstoy-Inspired Play

"I usually don't write about books," Nilo Cruz told a group of people gathered to hear a discussion about his play "Anna in the Tropics," which includes quotes from, and references to, Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina."

'Sforza' Mix of Politics and Love Fails to Convince

"Sforza," Sasha Denisova's new play at the Meyerhold Center, suffers from a case of schizophrenia. That becomes especially evident as it reaches its end.

Zombie Chekhov Play Leaves Audience Bemused

The vast majority of folks sitting around me stared on in frozen horror. As if the rigor mortis infecting everyone on stage might be contagious.

Wordless Version of 'Inspector General' a Must-See

Put away all that nonsense about, "I love theater but I don't go in Moscow because I don't know Russian."

Liquid Theater Tells of Old Age Through Dance

Allow me to break all the rules of the critic's job by giving away the end of Liquid Theater's "Program: Time" right now. It's such an ideal ending of a performance that it makes a good beginning for an account about that performance.

Embattled Teatr.doc Proudly Returns to the Stage

"I always thought this democracy stuff was, you know Е ," Alexei Yudnikov said, his voice trailing off with disgust still ringing in it. "Yes, yes! No, no!"

Mirzoyev Stages Dark, Mournful 'Cherry Orchard'

Vladimir Mirzoyev's handling of Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" at the Pushkin Theater has the ring of a moaning siren alerting folks on a forbidding coastline that a tsunami is on the way. That is, the warning has sounded, but it has come too late to do anyone any good. Everything here will now be swept away.

Theater of Nations Takes on Russian Romance

The romance Ч or romantic ballad, if you will Ч is one of the cornerstones of Russian culture. Imagine Russian cinema or classical drama without the romance. Imagine an all-night party in someone's cramped kitchen or living room.

Stanislavsky Electrotheater Opens With 'Bacchae'

Moscow this week lost one of its most prominent theaters, founded originally in 1935 by Konstantin Stanislavsky, the co-founder of the famed Moscow Art Theater.

Using Cabaret to Take Satirical, Sly Look at WWI

Cabarets and war are more similar than you might think. One raises serious issues by way of mirth, the other is just deadly serious.

Lyubimovka Drama 'Emptiness' on at Meyerhold

Who are we? And why are we what we are? These are questions people ask not only after Russia's marathon New Year and Christmas holidays, a time when any unsuspecting individual might believe that he or she has stepped into the Twilight Zone and will never, ever get out again.

Teatr.doc Gets New Plays Ready While Pushed Out of Home Theater

Goodbye, Teatr.doc. Hello, Teatr.doc. Both statements are true. Which one suits your purposes at any given moment depends on what you are talking about.

Korolyov's 'Formalin' Puts Literature Back on Stage

A little over 13 years ago an often violent and seemingly coarse play called "Plasticine" Ч written by Vasily Sigarev Ч burst onto the scene and gave contemporary drama a huge shot in the arm. Suddenly everyone was talking about the "uncouth" Sigarev and his young, soon-to-be streetwise anti-heroes.

The Satirikon Reworks 'The Taming of the Shrew'

There is good reason to flaunt the capabilities of the company at the Satirikon Theater, one of the most powerful, agile, accomplished groups of actors anywhere.

National Youth Theater Takes on 'Nuremberg'

More than any large, established theater in Moscow, the National Youth Theater has accepted the challenge in recent years of taking stock of history.

Director Kama Ginkas Takes On Albee Classic

Chances are if you know the art of Kama Ginkas you would not automatically think about Edward Albee. Just as you might be excused for not thinking about Ginkas when hearing the title "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Mukhina Returns to Fomenko With 'Olympia'

As much as one might have wished, Olga Mukhina's long-awaited return to the Fomenko Studio with her new play "Olympia" is not quite the stuff of fairy tales.

Take a Vacation to Crimea at Embattled Teatr.doc

To be or not to be, that is the question these days for Teatr.doc.

Bogomolov Revamps Pushkin's 'Boris Godunov'

In "Boris Godunov" at the Lenkom Theater, director Konstantin Bogomolov somehow found a way to do what probably should have been impossible. He combined his trademark penchant for kitschy excess with a sense of deep and considered understatement.

Yukhananov Transforms Stanislavsky for 2015

Mark your calendar: Jan. 26, 2015. Something big is brewing. On that date the theater we have long called the Stanislavsky Drama Theater, just up Tverskaya Ulitsa from Pushkin Square, will be rechristened the Stanislavsky Electrotheater.

Visceral Show of Babel's 'Red Cavalry' Hits Home

Isaac Babel is one of the most enigmatic writers not only of the early Soviet era, but in all of Russian literature. He wrote plenty to be included among the greats, but the truth is that most of his important works fit into two volumes. There is a very complete four-volume collection available.

Uproar as City Threatens to Shut Down Teatr.doc

Yelena Gremina, having just informed the world that her mighty little Teatr.doc was in danger of being evicted from its famous basement in the center of Moscow, added a second post on her Facebook timeline.

Serebrennikov's 'Martyr' Sends Powerful Message

It sounds more like a play that would suit the United States these days, with its story of radical, fundamentalist Christianity pulling a school apart.

Memories of Lyubimov and Meyerhold at Theater Director's Funeral

Yury Lyubimov once told me about meeting the great director Vsevolod Meyerhold. This happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1987. I paid Lyubimov a visit to talk about his old friend, the playwright Nikolai Erdman, but the conversation, naturally and fortunately, took plenty of detours.

Taking a Theatrical Tour of Old and New Sretenka

It's a wonderful idea for reopening a renovated old building, to work out some of the demons and explore some of the angels still lingering in the dark corners.

Legendary Russian Theater Director Yury Lyubimov Dies at 97

Yury Lyubimov, who died late Sunday morning at the age of 97, was a man of and for his times.

Gogol Center Puts Vintage Soviet Films on Stage

The Gogol Center has done a fascinating thing over the last two seasons. It delved into some of Russia's shared cultural codes and came up with new views of old ideas.

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.