I’ve got your Russian documentary theater right here

Moved apartments. Very tired. Very broke. Very glad to not face the kind of harassment I had to face at my old place, though. Living a 20-minute walk away from the Kremlin is so totally not worth constant crazy-making. Don’t let any well-meaning real estate agent tell you otherwise.

Was also recently on Voice of Russia with John Freedman. Reflecting on it later, I realized just how much my life has changed since I walked down the basement steps of Teatr.doc to see a closed performance of “An Hour and Eighteen Minutes” (John refers to this play as “One Hour Eighteen” – most other people just call it “that Magnitsky play”). One of the men in the play has, as per my disclaimer while on Voice of Russia, knocked me up and summarily put a ring on my finger. I’ve been collared into family life, ya’ll. People who don’t read news in the English language (i.e. the majority) known me as “that dude’s wife.” He introduces me as such at parties.

We were at Grzegorz Jarzyna’s “T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T.” last night (I still don’t have anything coherent to say about it besides, “I was terrified! I was amazed!”) when he introduced me to an ex-girlfriend, who’s an actress. She freaked out. This was the first time this has happened (it’s not as if I’ve never met an ex of his before). I wasn’t expecting it, because I’d heard a lot about her, and knew that she’s been married for a while herself, and has a young daughter. So I don’t know what that was about, exactly. It did make me feel oddly powerful, though. Here I am, a little pregnant lady with a big round belly, and I still have the power to make someone uncomfortable.

My husband did his bit as an awful judge in “An Hour and Eighteen Minutes” on our wedding day. We got ready, went to the civil registry office, did the whole officially registering our marriage thing (complete with much improv), had din-dins at an Uzbek art-cafe, then I had dessert with some friends while everyone else went across the street for the show. People said it was one of his best performances yet. I had some feelings about combining a play about a lawyer who was essentially tortured to death via neglect with our wedding day, but we really had no choice. My husband always does what he has to do. It’s one of those things that terrifies me and attracts me in equal measure.

After the performance, we quickly transformed the funereal atmosphere inside Teatr.doc as to something more befitting a wedding reception on a shoestring. People came with gifts and flowers. Playwright and journalist Sasha Denisova came bearing a little baby hoodie, decorated with images of Snoopy. Actor Alexey Yudnikov (who used to grin at me from an advertisement at my local pharmacy, before we moved) climbed a step-ladder and lectured us about the sanctity of marriage in the manner of an aging Soviet bureaucrat. All of this took place on the stage, because there wasn’t any room for it elsewhere.

A little over a month later, on the same stage, we quietly commemorated playwright Anna Yablonskaya, who was killed in the January 24 bombing at Domodedovo airport. Her husband and I shared details of how our respective children were conceived. There was caviar, something we couldn’t afford for the wedding.

Death to life to death. To life.

Some of my new theater writing & whining

Since I’ve been really struggling with Short Play #3 and Short Play #4, here is me instead on other people’s work:

Teatr.Doc does a play on Sergei Magnitsky – and very nearly pulls it off (and still will, I think, once this production gains some focus)

I write a kind of primer on Russia’s new drama movement – Mikhail Ugarov talks about going to the theater in Russia as a “mere cultural gesture.” I love it when that man gets snarky.

Personally, I am having an impossible time right now. I was genuinely excited about this thing I’ve been chipping away at for a month or so – a play, or else a script for a short film, no more than half an hour in length – and today I was unequivocally told that it does not achieve the goals that it sets out to achieve. If I currently owned a frying pan, I’d beat myself about with it, I really would.

I guess it’s back to square one.

“Write a monologue,” I’m told. “Write about something that concerns you personally, for a change.”

I’m worried that I’ll have to – because it doesn’t feel like I have a choice.