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Major Cultural Exchange Planned by CSF

– Note:  I am pleased to share this related information provided by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

In the summer of 2011, Colorado Shakeespeare Festival will host a company of Russian artists—a director, actors, and designers, as well as their translator—at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The Russians, from the Maxim Gorky Theatre in Vladivostok, are coming to Boulder through a cultural exchange program that will impact not just the University but the Metro community as well. The exchange was made possible through generous grants from the Opaline Fund, the Boulder Arts Commission, the University of Colorado President’s Fund for the Humanities, and the University’s Faculty in Residence Summer Term (FIRST) program.

The program will include a production of Nikolai Gogol’s play, The Inspector General, performed by Russian and American actors, a university class in the Stanislavsky theory of physical action available through the University’s Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department, and lectures or forums at the Boulder Public Library, free of charge and open to the public.

The Maxim Gorky Theatre, the largest and most influential in Eastern Russia, is a wellspring of acting talent and innovation. Founded in 1932, the theatre is famous for its acting and directing talent and as an educational resource. Its repertoire includes world classics, Russian classics, and contemporary plays by Russian and foreign playwrights. The Gorky has toured in Russia, as well as abroad, in China, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.

Master Teacher/Actor Aleksandr (Sasha) Zaporozhetc, who will teach the Stanislavsky course, and the Gorky’s Artistic Director and Executive Producer, Efim Zvenyatskiy, who will direct The Inspector General, have received highest state honors in Russia, as well as recognition in Western Europe. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s producing artistic director, Philip Sneed, and Zvenyatskiy have collaborated for 17 years and have produced six successful projects: three in Russia and three in this country.

CSF plans to partner its staff, actors and directors with their Russian counterparts for mutual learning. The Russians are interested in “best practices” in American theatre—the most efficient and effective techniques for producing a play. Likewise, CSF is interested in what works for the Russians. One-on-one conversations and first-hand observation are excellent ways to convey and absorb one another’s insights and professional values.

Sneed said,

There is no better way for human beings to understand one another than to work closely together in an art such as theatre. Within a remarkably short period of time, individuals begin to understand one another’s working styles. Differences of culture are set aside to achieve a common goal, and even language is no barrier. Stereotypes that rob us of our common humanity are set aside. That is the value of cultural exchange.

Some of the results we hope to achieve will be to expose our CU students in Theatre, Germanic and Slavic Languages, and other disciplines to new creative and cultural experiences and to one of the most influential acting techniques ever developed. With Sasha, students will work on scenes from Chekov and other playwrights. Students will simultaneously have the opportunity to watch Efim direct rehearsals of The Government Inspector. The play, though written in 1832, is a trenchant satire on the hypocrisy, greed, and self-delusion of petty officials and wealthy individuals. Its focus is startlingly modern.”

Bud Coleman, Chairman of CU’s Theatre & Dance Department, also remarked,

For over 75 years, the Maxim Gorky Theatre in Vladivostok has been one of Russia’s premiere professional theatres. We are honored to have artists from the Gorky working this summer with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and teaching for the CU Department of Theatre & Dance. This is a rare opportunity for Coloradans to experience some of the rich Russian theatrical legacy that brought us Chekhov, Gorky, Pushkin, Gogol, and the acting theories of Constantin Stanislavski. Observing senior artists performing a Russian classic along with American actors will greatly enhance the students’ understanding of how Stanislavsky’s theory is put into practice. Other results of the cultural exchange will be to introduce members of the community to these highly creative Russian artists and have the artists learn about how we live and think.”

For more information on the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, visit our website.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn Bernheimer
Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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