Power, Politics and Performance in Russia: 12 to 15 January 2016

Plymouth Theatre Royal and the Frontline Club in association with Sputnik Theatre Company presented a festival of new Russian plays, translated into English by Noah Birksted-Breen. The plays were accompanied by a programme of post-show talks by top Russian playwrights, political activists and journalists.

Tuesday 12 January 2016: Dr by Elena Isaeva.
Directed by Kate Fahy.
With Alan Cox, Jonathan Coy and Sanchia McCormack.
A surprising, sometimes shocking, often funny and moving play about contemporary medicine in rural Russia. Based on a real-life testimony taken from a Russian doctor, it is also a touching personal portrait of an individual coping as best they can in difficult circumstances.

Dr is one of the longest running productions of Teatr.doc, the renowned studio theatre in Moscow which was supported by Tom Stoppard amongst other prominent British voices when facing closure in 2014. This reading was followed by a post-show discussion with artistic director of Teatr.doc, Elena Gremina and Noah Birksted-Breen, in conversation with senior international correspondent for The Guardian, Luke Harding. The discussion can be viewed here.

Wednesday 13 January 2016: Joan by Yaroslava Pulinovich.
Directed by James Grieve.
With Scott Arthur, Franc Ashman, Simon Darwen, Joe Gaminara, Gary Lilburn, Aisha Fabienne Ross, Susan Stewart, Lizzy Watts.
Joan is a self-made business woman who has made it to the top for all the wrong reasons. She is living happily and in love until she is jilted, which sets her on the course for revenge. This play is not only about love but also the ruthless business practices borne of 1990s opportunistic Russia and its gangster capitalism.

Yarsolava Pulinovich was born in Omsk, Russia in 1987, into a family of journalists. In 2009 she graduated from the Yekaterinburg Theatre Institute, where she trained under Nikolai Koliada. Her plays have been performed in the UK, the USA, Poland, Estonia, Ukraine and in over forty theatres across Russia: in Moscow, St Petersburg, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk and many other cities. She has won awards including the Voice of a Generation Prize, the Debut Prize, the Eurasia Prize, the Best New Play award at the Golden Mask Festival, and the Harlequin Prize. Her play Untitled was previously presented at the Royal Court, London.

Thursday 14th January 2016: Grandchildren. The Second Act by Alexandra Polivanova and Mikhail Kaluzhsky.
Directed by Caroline Steinbeis.
With Sarah Belcher, Hayley Carmichael, Sean Gleeson, Janet Henfrey, Jacqueline King, Sanchia McCormack, Maggie Service, Angela Terence, Philip Whitchurch.
How do the grandchildren of prominent Stalinists feel when they find out who their beloved grandparents really were? Interviewed by the playwrights over the last couple of years, the protagonists’ grandparents were from Stalin’s inner circle – or members of the Soviet Communist Party or NKVD – and their testimonies bear witness to the very human desire to forgive those we love, even when we know their worst crimes.

Followed by a post-show panel discussion including Oliver Bullough, Alexandrina Markvo, Vladimir Ashurkov and Chaired by Gabriel Gatehouse which can be viewed here.

Friday 15th January 2016: The War Hasn’t Yet Started by Mikhail Durnenkov.
Directed by Gordon Anderson.
With Jessica Ellerby, Mark Quartley, David Westhead.
Does war amount to a father threatening to burn down a brand new house built for him by his son, simply to avoid the humiliation of being dependent? Is war what happens when a wife is obedient to her violent but devoted husband? Durnenkov depicts the dehumanising effects of living in a society on the brink of all-out war.

Stylistically reminiscent of the formal experimentation of Caryl Churchill or Martin Crimp, The War Hasn’t Yet Started is a dark but often hilarious play about where war really lurks – in our homes, on our streets, in our hearts.

This play was originally commissioned by A Play, A Pie and A Pint Theatre, Glasgow, and was produced in May 2015 in association with the National Theatre of Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.

The reading was followed by a post-show discussion with Simon Stokes, John Freedman and Noah Birksted-Breen, which can be viewed here.

The Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ.

  • About Us

    Sputnik is a British theatre company dedicated to sourcing, translating and producing new Russian drama for British audiences.

    There are several strands to Sputnik's work including:
    - producing new Russian plays in the UK
    - programming and organising the Russian Theatre Festival in London
    - developing Russian playwriting through commissions and exchanges
    - outreach work bringing drama to disadvantaged young people
    - cultural events with Russian literature and music

    Why Russia?
    Russia has a history of theatrical innovation. Russian playwrights have played a significant role in shaping modern European theatre.

    Contemporary playwriting in Russia has been going through an important and innovative period since 1991 with a prolific output by predominantly young dramatists.

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