Friday, May 7, 2010

The Russians have landed

James here.

Back in Baltimore.
the front grille of the '62 Valiant that rusts in peace across the street where I stay in Baltimore. This car has been as much a symbol of my return trips to "Charm City" as anything else.

This time for the New Russian Drama Conference. A three day event that has gathered together theater artists from all over Russia and the United States; most notably for us -Yury “Strike” Klavdiev, the writer of “I am the Machine Gunner”.

I had met Klavdiev once before when Dave and I attended the Golden Mask Theater Festival in Moscow in April of 2009. We used that time to ask questions about the show and get to know the man behind the words. It was a 3 hour conversation that I felt got cut too short by our Moscow itinerary.
I’ve no doubt that the conference will have the man running around like crazy for the next couple of days, but I’m also doubtless that we’ll be able to get in some quality face time.
This is Klavdiev’s first trip to the United States. He flew into New York with Vyacheslav Durnenkov, another Russian playwright whose work has been seen recently at the Moscow Art Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. The first official stop on their visit was a Q&A at the Martin Segal Center (CUNY) in Manhattan. They were helped by our good friend and collaborator John Freedman, who acted as translator for the two playwrights as they fielded questions from the audience. Klavdiev also talked briefly about his experience writing the piece, which you can watch in the video below.  You may need to turn your volume up in order to hear it all.

During this seminar, I also read a 15 minute excerpt from “I am the Machine Gunner”, giving those gathered a taste of Klavdiev's words and doing my best to leave them wanting more. I think it worked, as people seemed anxious to know when they would get a chance to see the actual show in its entirety.

You may be wondering the same thing.
The American Premiere of “I am the Machine Gunner” will be taking place at the Theatre Project in Baltimore during the first two weekends in September. That’s Labor Day weekend and the weekend following – September 2-5 and 9-12. We also have additional shows lining up in the Chicago area and Southern California, but I’ll drop those details in a later post.

At the moment we’re on the brink of the New Russian Drama Conference. Three days of plays, talks, and networking. A time for theater professionals from Russia and the United States to mingle: hopefully coming to a better understanding of each other.

Sixty years ago this meeting would’ve gotten us all blacklisted.

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