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Articles by John Freedman



The Russian Theater Ц What a Season It's Been

Another theater season bites the dust. And, therefore, wrap it up again we must. For three and twenty years without a break The Moscow Times has listed what is great.

The Year in Theater: Murky Demons on the Loose

Words can be fashionable. They may be dangerous. The word of this year in Russian culture, I would argue, has shades of both.

Shakespeare's 'Dream' is Magic at Fomenko Theater

It is no secret that following the death of founder Pyotr Fomenko in 2012, the Fomenko Workshop Theater drifted a bit.

Raikin Touches Audiences in 'All Shades of Blue'

Konstantin Raikin knows full well he is sticking his neck out with his production of "All Shades of Blue" at the Satirikon Theater.

Bulgakov's 'Flight' Soars at Vakhtangov Theater

We have come to expect "big" from Yury Butusov. We know he takes bold approaches to text, applying cuts, rearrangements and duplications to the works of no less than Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov and Bertolt Brecht.

Ksenia Sobchak Shines as Gogol's Matchmaker

It is the kind of gimmick that could easily have sunk the ship. In fact, it's probably what keeps it afloat.

Teatr.doc Lives Through Latest Betrayal

It is the unavoidable topic if you mention Teatr.doc for any reason Ч the war that city authorities are waging against this tiny, popular Moscow theater.

Yukhananov's 'Serial Opera' Narrates Civilization Myth

When Moscow last saw this show a few years ago it was relatively small, at least in temporal terms. But Boris Yukhananov doesn't know or do "small." It's not in his nature.

Serebrennikov's New Take on 'A Common Story'

Ivan Goncharov is not the writer who jumps to mind when you think hip, universal, classic 19th-century Russian prose.

Teatr.doc Booted From Home After Bolotnaya Play

The news should be that on Tuesday Teatr.doc, Moscow's smallest but noisiest playhouse, begins guest performances in Berlin with "Two in Your House" at the Schaubuhne.

Head Down to Voronezh for Innovative Theater

If you thought St. Petersburg was the only place to head for a long weekend, let me say just one word: Voronezh.

Prigov's Works Put The 'Revolt' Into Revolution

There are many reasons to be intrigued by "Revolt" at Praktika Theater. It is the latest production to involve the Dmitry Brusnikin Workshop, a group of now-former students who have officially formed a new, professional Moscow theater troupe.

Authorities Again Threatened by Bolotnaya Square

Yelena Gremina's production of "The Bolotnaya Square Case" at Teatr.doc may be the most benign dangerous 65 minutes I have ever witnessed.

Chekhov Festival Brings the World of Theater to Moscow

Approximately once every two summers, ever since its inaugural outing in the shaky, post-Perestroika year of 1992, the International Chekhov Theater Festival has brought the world of theater to Moscow.

'Griboyedov-Blues' a Feisty Take on Woe From Wit

Russian culture Ч by which I mean the world of the arts Ч is locked in a battle, the likes of which have not been seen here for decades.

The Ups and Downs of the Golden Mask Awards at 21

The Golden Mask Festival has come and gone for the 21st time. It is now an adult by anyone's standards.

Russian Culture Minister Medinsky Heckled at Golden Mask Awards

It took one single spectator at the 21st running of the Golden Mask Festival awards ceremony on Saturday to say aloud what was on the minds of many.

Yukhananov Looks Back and Forward in Passionate 'Blue Bird'

Maurice Maeterlinck's "The Blue Bird" is one of the most iconic plays in Russian theater lore. It was first staged in 1908 by Konstantin Stanislavsky, and, believe it or not, a direct descendant of that production still plays today at the Gorky Moscow Art Theater.

Kozlovsky Lifts Dodin's Superb 'Cherry Orchard'

We could hardly call it the Golden Mask Festival were a production by Lev Dodin and his Maly Drama Theater of St. Petersburg not participating.

Soviet-Style Censorship Returns to Russian Arts

How many bulls does it take to trash a china shop?


Deeply Human Touch Brought to Erdman's 'The Suicide'

I have written about Nikolai Erdman's tragicomedy "The Suicide" for 35 years and I have rarely seen it done with the deep, devastating understanding that Sergei Zhenovach brings to it at the Studio of Theatrical Art.


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.