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New Russian Drama: Maksym Kurochkin

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Mar 22, 2010
Mar 22, 2010
Segal Theater
Maksym Kurochin Photo courtesy of the artist

Maksym Kurochin
Photo courtesy of the artist

Playwright Maksym Kurochkin, widely recognized as one of the most imaginative playwrights in Moscow today, visits the Segal Center as part of our special collaboration with the Center for International Theatre Development (CITD). Kurochkin has been touted as “the ideal playwright for the global age” by the Moscow Times. Featuring a reading of excerpts of Mr. Kurochkin’s play, Mooncrazed, and a discussion with the playwright as well as Moscow Times theatre critic John Freedman, CITD director Philip Arnoult, and Yelena Kovalskaya, theatre editor of Moscow’s Afisha magazine.

by Maksym Kurochkin. Translated by John J. Hanlon.

Mooncrazed is a Russian fantasia for today – a theatrical rumination on the Cyrano de Bergerac story enhanced by Kurochkin’s signature flights of imagination and brilliant dialogue.  The Cyrano figure in this play is older than the one in popular film adaptations, and Kurochkin shifts the focus away from the typical swashbuckling and romantic poetry toward Cyrano’s lesser-known scientific inclinations. The settings oscillate between 17th-century France, where the visionary poet-scientist struggles to be understood, and 21st-century Russia, where a frustrated newspaper columnist struggles to hold together a life coming apart at the seams.  Other alluring figures inhabit both locales; the play, however, illuminates not so much the relationships between its characters as the spaces that keep them apart.  Ultimately, it asks profound questions about artistic integrity, the purpose of work, and the nature of reality itself.  A sprawling yet galvanizing theatrical romp with a big heart at its core, Mooncrazed takes its audiences on an unforgettable journey and leaves them musing about the universe they thought they knew.

Mooncrazed was recently read as part of the HotInk Festival.

Maksym Kurochkin is widely recognized as one of the most imaginative playwrights in Moscow today. John Freedman, the Moscow Times Theater Critic, called him “the ideal playwright for the global age.” Mr. Kurochkin’s plays have been staged throughout Russia and the world. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious prizes, including Boldest Experiment of the Year from the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily for his play Kitchen, the Moscow New Drama award for the futuristic comedy Tityus the Irreproachable, and the Russian Anti-Booker award for experimenting with new avenues in drama. Kitchen, a smash-hit in Moscow, has been credited with helping to steer Russian theater away from revivals, back toward contemporary work. The Moscow Times named his Repress and Excite the best play of the 2006-7 Moscow theater season. A translation of that play appeared in TheatreForum, the leading international theater journal in the U.S., as did a translation of Vodka, Fucking, and Television, his trailblazing work from 2003. A translation of The Schooling of Bento Bonchev was presented in a workshop reading at Towson University in February, and will appear in May 2010 in Performing Arts Journal. John Hanlon’s translation of Mooncrazed was presented at the HotINK festival of contemporary drama at NYU in January 2010. A reading of Tityus the Irreproachable, translated by Noah Birksted-Breen, was a featured event of the Russian Theatre Festival in London in February 2010. Mr. Kurochkin writes for film and television, as well as Maxim, a popular Russian-language cultural journal.

Yelena Kovalskaya Photo courtesy of CITD

Yelena Kovalskaya
Photo courtesy of CITD

Yelena Kovalskaya is the theater editor of Afisha magazine, one of Moscow’s popular cultural guides. Known in Moscow as an active supporter of new talent, she has been the art director of the prestigious Lyubimovka Festival of Young Drama since 2004, working closely on special projects with the Royal Court Theatre. She frequently curates the Russian Case festival, a special event held annually for foreign visitors to Moscow’s Golden Mask Festival. Kovalskaya was a member of the collective creative team that staged Klim’s Alcestis in Moscow in 2001.

Philip Arnoult Photo courtesy of the CITD

Philip Arnoult
Photo courtesy of the CITD

Philip Arnoult is widely recognized, nationally and internationally, for his commitment to long-term, international projects, introducing artists and supporting those first steps toward collaborative projects. He is the founder of The Baltimore Theatre Project (1971) and the Center for International Theatre Development (CITD) (1990). Arnoult worked with the East Africa Office of the Ford Foundation in the development of a Media Art and Culture program in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. He continues his relationships with Stacy Klein and Double Edge’s Farm in western Massachusetts, the Grotowski Institute and Theatre ZAR in Wroclaw, Poland, and various projects in Bulgaria, Romania and Armenia. He has worked with Antioch College, The University of Tennessee, Bennington College, and Towson University in a variety of consultative roles.

John Freedman Photo by Kate Lenora

John Freedman
Photo by Kate Lenora

John Freedman has written or edited nine books about Russian drama and theater and has been the theater critic of The Moscow Times since 1992. His play translations – including those of Maksym Kurochkin – have been performed in the United States, Australia and Canada, and published in numerous anthologies and journals. He is the Russian director of The New Russian Drama: Translation / Production / Conference (2007-2010), a project hosted by Towson University (Baltimore, MD) and Philip Arnoult’s Center for International Theater Development (CITD). Freedman previously appeared at CUNY in 2008 with Kama Ginkas and in 2009 with Olga Mukhina.


The Center for International Theatre Development was founded in 1990 by Philip Arnoult. While the Center’s work has had a long-time focus in Eastern and Central Europe, major additional projects have been developed in the Netherlands and East Africa. CITD works with over a dozen US partner theatre across the country. Ivo Van Hove (Netherlands), Kama Ginkas (Russia), Robert Alfoldi and Janos Szasz (Hungary), and Nona Ciobanu (Romania) have all been introduced to US artists and audience through the work of CITD. Since 2000, CITD has been working with US and Russian partners opening up the new writing in Russia.  To date, over a dozen “American-English” translations have been commissioned with Towson University in Baltimore. Since 2000, over 50 US theatre leaders have visited various festivals and special events Russia. Key partners in Russia are author John Freedman, director Yuri Urnov, the Meyerhold Center, and the Golden Mask Festival.

6:30 p.m., Monday, March 22, 2010
Martin E. Segal Theatre. Free!