Kyiv’s PostPlayTheater: of “Rebels,” Donetsk, and discomfiting narratives

Kyiv’s PostPlayTheater: of “Rebels,” Donetsk, and discomfiting narratives

If you are interested in the (somewhat frozen) conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine, you should hop on down to Kyiv’s brand new PostPlayTheater and check out the documentary play “Rebels” (“Ополченцi” in Ukrainian. The word itself usually has a slightly different meaning in English, but “rebel” is one of the standard terms for the separatists out east, so I am using it for now).

Rebels is the story of one man, recorded on a dictaphone by some kiosks on a late night in central Kyiv. The man used to be a part of the Russia-backed uprising in Donetsk, a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced over two million people.  Continue reading “Kyiv’s PostPlayTheater: of “Rebels,” Donetsk, and discomfiting narratives”

Chyorny Dnepr: Mermaid Song

God, I must be getting older,
A sickly pigeon on my shoulder
Weeps diuretics from one round eye.
God, I must be getting weaker,
The teeth in my head are getting softer,
The teeth in my head crumble to chalk.
I pull them out of my mouth,
And draw your picture on the sidewalk:
With a bigger dick than I remember,
With kinder eyes than I remember,
If history’s to be forgotten,
No point in sticking to the facts.
God, my nails are like quartz,
Gnawing deep into my weeping skin.
God, my thoughts are like black water,
Licking at a thinning dam.
In a billion years this gut and bones,
The fragile pelvis you briefly made your home,
Will be fuel in a lantern
Lighting the way of a stranger’s progress
On a black shore under rearranged stars,
And that is the only immortality you and I may have.

This one’s from a new play of mine. Possibly the last play ever (but I always say that, don’t I? I am always having horrendous break-ups with the theater, only to come back again). A drunk mermaid stumbles out of the water and sings this on the beach of the Dnepr River in Ukraine. The play is set a few months before Euromaidan —> Yanukovych’s toppling —> Annexation of Crimea —-> Civil war in the East.

An observation through the general haze

Director Anastasia Patlay took this picture of us at a party celebrating ten years since the creation of Moscow’s Teatr.doc (which is a whole separate story, when you think about it – the role that this theater has played in both of our lives is just weird to contemplate. Weird, but awesome as well. It’s a great place, and if you’re ever in Moscow, you have to go. It gets lambasted for being “too political,” because art in Russia must be “safe,” you see, and not make any bureaucrats nervous, but all of that is pretty silly.), and when I saw it, I noticed two things: we look happy, and we look like we’re about to die.

I like marriage and parenthood and work – and I just need a leeeeeetle bit of rest. OK? OK? Please? Well, FINE THEN. FINE.

(You’re probably going to say that exhausted new parents don’t go to parties. And I’ll tell you that you just haven’t been to Moscow. Maybe.)

"I love you." *yawn*

September 2011 is over

I can’t believe that it’s actually over, and I’m expecting to wake up at any point in October and somehow wind up back in September.

I went back to work full time and Alexey nearly finished his film. My mother’s been sunning herself on various beaches of the world, so there’s been zero help at home and we’re spending nearly all of the money we have on our nanny, Nina Ivanovna, who’s not above doing the laundry and the dishes, thank Sweet Baby Jesus.

I somehow managed to write up a new version of my play and sent it off to Modern Drama Week in Kiev – though I think I’d be OK with the fact that a play that premiered in Moscow doesn’t get read in Kiev, if they need me to make room for the newest batch of authors, or just don’t like the play, which is set in Moscow, altogether. Kiev is still where all things began – plays, scripts, and this love affair with Alexey.

The result of the love affair has trouble napping during the day when I’m around, so I put him in his basket, stick it on the floor of the bathroom, and let the water run a little bit. Though I try to use the water sparingly, I have nightmares about the water bill. White noise from the fan just doesn’t seem to do the trick.

The play’s Moscow premiere was alright. I would have asked for something better – my husband cut the two scenes with guns, reading through the synopsis for them instead. You just don’t do that with guns. In his opinion, the problem with the reading was the pace. Still, people got up and said incredibly complimentary things, which surprised me. My so-called generation is classed as the one that came “after the fire-breathing Yury Klavdiev” – i.e., comparatively speaking, we are not as exciting or interesting – but I wouldn’t put, say, Marina Krapivina or Olga Strizhak in that category at all, for example. I’ve been surrounded by interesting people, who are doing interesting things. Perhaps I can learn by example.

In spite of all of these exciting things happening – plays, movies, newspapers, friends, Lyovka slowly learning to lift his head, etc., September has been a tiring, demoralizing month. I feel like the entire Moscow Victory Day Parade has flattened me under wheels and boots – and then turned around and flattened me all over again.

What doesn’t help is that I know that things are about to get more complicated from here on out. The movie will need to have a life beyond the Advanced School of Journalism, beyond Moscow. I’ll have to devote October to English subtitles, among other things.

Fatigue is the ultimate relationship-destroyer. Long before there’s stuff being tossed out of apartment windows, there is fatigue, the gray watchman at the foot of the bed.

Although I’ve fallen into a rhythm – work, baby, work, baby, with occasional flashes of husband-time – it’s not enough, because there is no Natalia-time. Getting to pleasure-read on the metro on the way to and from work does not count. I refuse to believe that it counts. The banya counts, on the other hand – I need more banya in my life.

Then there’s the jealousy of Alexey’s friends and colleagues. If we’re late to some event, I can count on being pulled aside for a little chat about “clipping his wings” and so on – as if my goddamn home life is these people’s business. The fact that we have an infant at home fails to register. Alexey tries to be everywhere at once, and it results in disaster for both of us.

The thing that unites us is the fact that Lyovka has begun to develop a personality. He grins when you come to get him out of his crib, he tries to grab his little green dog rattle. It’s very hard in the beginning, when they’re so small that they kind of don’t register you half the time. Now that Lyovka is constantly chatting away in baby language, communication is being established. Alexey speaks to him in Russian, I do it in English. The nosy neighbors are amazed.

I’m writing about nudism at the moment. Autumn is a third of the way done. Alexey’s off on tour to Poland in just a few days. The trees in Novogireyevo are raining red and yellow. I don’t know what’s going to happen next – I just know that September is over.