Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Moscow Art Theatre & U of Iowa Present Free Bilingual Theatre

Thu, March 13, 2014 | Online

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Moscow Art Theatre & U of Iowa Present Free Bilingual Theatre

On Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 11am CST (8pm Moscow time) the University of Iowa will link up with the Moscow Art Theatre to present Book Wings, a live bilingual (English/Russian) collaborative theatre project that uses the latest new media technologies to bring together actors, writers, directors, translators, and stage spaces 5,000 miles apart to produce one unified theatre experience, and present 6 newly commissioned plays. The performance will be live-streamed (free and viewable by anyone with an internet connection), with a 20 minute talk-back session featuring Moscow Art Theatre School Director Anatoly Smeliansky and participating playwrights, immediately following the performance. Internet viewers are invited to Tweet comments and questions for the live talk-back using the hashtag #bookw.

More on the project, including full bios of the playwrights and summaries of the commissioned works, can be found here

The bilingual performance will be viewable live on Thursday, March 13th at 11am CST at the link below:  

The March 13th performance will mark the debut of 6 new short plays commissioned by the Moscow Art Theatre and the International Writing Program on the central theme of “Contact”; the plays touch on issues from gay marriage to climate change to torture. The commissioned Russian writers are best-selling Chechen author Herman Sadulaev, twice short-listed for the Russian Booker, publisher and writer Maksim Osipov, winner of the Yuri Kazakov Prize, and playwright and prose writer Ksenia Dragunskaya.

LUNCH by Michelle Carter: Grapefruit and bacon, together? Scandalous? Immoral? What other instutitional changes threaten to transform our social structure?

THE PEOPLES by Ksenia Dragunskaya: A newcomer causes a stir in a Russian village by announcing his entire island nation will soon arrive, seeking refuge from a typoon by taking up the flippant offer of hospitality previously extended by a Russian tourist.

ASSEMBLING A FLUGINFLABINLUG AT A MILITARY BLACK SITE by Anthony Marra: One table, two soldiers, a war, a sex surrogate, and IKEA's customer support center...a lethal combination?

REVOLUTIONARY PORCELAIN by Maksim Osipov: An art critic and a working-class actor undertake a delicate task.

7 MINUTES IN HEAVEN by Robin Romm: Locked in a closet, two strangers get to know each other, but not in the way they’d planned.

A THREE WAY DREAM by Herman Sadulaev: A sleeper is visited by two former flames--but what exactly their shared past holds is the object of dispute.

PDF of the program, including the complete text of all 6 plays, in English and Russian, will be made available free online by early March, for those wanting to familiarize themselves with the plays beforehand.

A little background on Book Wings

Moscow Art Theatre School Director Anatoly Smeliansky and University of Iowa International Writing Program Director Christopher Merrill came up with the idea for Book Wings during a working group meeting as part of the Bilateral Presidential Commission to reset relations between Russia and the U.S. in Moscow in December 2010. “Over the last twenty years we’ve trained a thousand American students in the Stanislavsky Method, and now I can talk to my daughter every night in Cambridge, MA on Skype. Can’t we find some way to meet in the virtual world?” asked Smeliansky.

The 3-year Book Wings initiative designed in response has commissioned short dramatic works from poets (2012), playwrights (2013), and fiction writers (2014) on the common theme of “contact,” and performed them on digitally-connected stages in Iowa City and Moscow, fostering cross-cultural conversation and sparking new dramatic ideas. The pioneering 2012 performance was so successful that Book Wings was expanded to include China (in 2013) and Iraq (in 2014), with plans to establish a collaboration in South Africa in 2015. Long term, Book Wings aims to provide a model for leveraging new media technologies to increase artistic collaboration internationally.

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