Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell, in their Saratov hotel
I'm in Saratov, Russia (about 500 miles from Moscow) right now, where Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell just premiered their wonderfully whacked-out interpretation of Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class — all in Russian. More on that later. Breuer is one of the founding artists of the New York experimental company, Mabou Mines, and Mitchell played the Amazonian Nora, among an ensemble of male little-people, in A Mabou Mines Dollhouse (based on Ibsen's play), that performed t UCLA a few years back. Wifi here is very sketchy and I think my hard drive is about to crash, so Stage Raw may be down until Monday's posting of the new reviews.
Yesterday visited the Saratov State University graduating acting students, who performed a scene from Kiss Me Kate in their rehearsal hall . You haven't lived until you've seen Cole Porter sung ith such sass, skill and exuberance by 20 year-olds in Russia. I asked them where they imagined themselves in five years, and the response was immediate and unanimous, “in the theater, any city, any province, but in the theater.” Not film and TV? I asked. One of them joked back about working in the crapped-out Russian film industry. “In the theater,” they repeated.
Valery Raikov, artistic director of Saratov's repertory theater where
Breuer staged his performance, said that state funding has remained constant,
despite the “crisis”. There was talk among politicians of using the
American model of leaving Russian theaters to compete commercially, and
after some consideration, it's been more or less ruled out. This one
theater complex (a 500 seat and 100 seat theater) employs a company of
70, for life. They know they have a place, and a home. This is in a
town sort of like Pomona.
I mentioned that I'd like to see the Volga River (Saratov resides on
its banks), and the Russians arranged a six hour boat trip today. They
advised me to wear every item of clothing I brought, as the weather is
hovering in the high 30s, with blustery winds and showers. More next
week, if I don't freeze to death.