Posts Tagged moscow theatre siege

Review for ’57 Hours in the House of Culture’

Here’s a nice review of my play 57 HOURS ON THE HOUSE OF CULTURE that’s been posted on the New Play Exchange:

“This is probably my favorite Yancey play. High stakes, rich characters, an immersive theatre environment — what’s not to like? You certainly don’t need to know recent Russian history to appreciate this effort. Be sure to give it a look.”
— Kenley Smith

An audience once died simply for its love of theatre. This is a dark play that re-imagines the 2002 Moscow theatre siege, where Chechen terrorists seized a theatre and held hundreds hostage until Russian authorities gassed everyone. Audience members are held in the lobby, while “soldiers” guard the doors. At showtime, the doors open and patrons enter to find the theatre swirling with poison gas (presumably, you’ll use dry ice), seats overturned, and dead bodies strewn about, while a broadcast announcement plays about the end of the hostage drama. When everyone is seated, the dead bodies come to life, as theatre ghosts, re-telling the tale. Cast: This has been done with as few as nine. Eight main cast members — two male, four female, two non-gender — plus two male soldiers – plus five to seven audience members who are enlisted. And some voices, which can be recorded. Running time: One and a half, no intermission.
* Produced by Studio Roanoke, Roanoke, Va., May 16-27, 2012.
* Staged reading at Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Virginia, March 19, 2016.

More, lots more, about 57 HOURS IN THE HOUSE OF CULTURE: Read the rest of this entry »

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Poster for showcase in London

Poster for Horror! Horror!

I have one piece in the one-night show Horror Horror, being presented Oct. 28 in London (yes, that London) by Bashir Productions at the Et Cetera Theatre as an industry showcase.

My piece is listed here as CURTAIN SPEECH. The full title is CURTAIN SPEECH FROM THE HOUSE OF CULTURE OF STATE BALL BEARING PLANT NO. 1, and is a stand-alone version of the opening scene of my full-length script 57 HOURS IN THE HOUSE OF CULTURE, based on the true story of the 2002 Moscow theatre siege.

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“57 Hours in the House of Culture” to have staged reading at Sweet Briar College

Poster for the Sweet Briar reading.

Poster for the Sweet Briar reading.

My dark play about the Moscow theatre siege comes back to life on March 19 with a staged reading at Sweet Briar College in Virginia.

I would say it comes back to the stage, except this time it won’t be on a stage, it’ll be in an art gallery, where the backdrop is an exhibit on Soviet propaganda. Very fitting!

Here’s what Sweet Briar has posted on its website about the reading (and about me.)

Here’s more about 57 HOURS IN THE HOUSE OF CULTURE below: Read the rest of this entry »

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Artistic director: ‘You are quite a talent!’

I recently received a very flattering rejection letter from an artistic director in a major U.S. city (major enough to have the quadfecta of sports teams in the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL). Technically, it wasn’t a rejection letter. I’d received that earlier in the day from someone else at the theatre. But then, quite unexpectedly, I got this from the artistic director:

“You recently submitted a number of plays to our festival and I had the pleasure of reading some of them. I really enjoy your work. To be honest, each time I’d open up a play and see your name attached to it, I’d get excited. You are quite a talent! Although I won’t be directing anything for this year’s festival, I wanted you to know that if I had, I would’ve chosen your play Olga. It’s a great piece.”

The director went on to ask if she could share the script with a friend. Naturally, I said yes!

OLGA is a 10-minute play based on Olga Romanova, a civilian who came in off the street during the 2002 Moscow theatre siege — and wound up becoming the first victim. It had a staged reading in December in New York. That script is a spin-off from my full-length script about the Moscow theatre siege, 57 HOURS IN THE HOUSE OF CULTURE. More on that show here.

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“57 Hours in the House of Culture” called “well-crafted” and “compelling”

Just got one of the nicest rejection letters ever, this from a theatre in . . . well, let’s just say somewhere in the United States.

This was in reference to my full-length script “57 Hours in the House of Culture,” about the Moscow theatre siege.

And I quote:

“I did want to let you know that out of the 200 submissions we considered, 57 Hours in the House of Culture made a very strong impression and stayed on our shortlist until close the very end. It is a well-crafted story told in a compelling manner with characters that are diverse and strong. However, due to the larger cast size along with technical elements we felt were essential to telling this story correctly, we had to pass on it this year. However, we look forward to considering it again next year, along with any other work you submit in the future.”

The show was originally produced in May 2012 at Studio Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia. Here’s more on that production:

* Video: “57 Hours in the House of Culture” at Studio Roanoke in May 2012
* Backstage graffiti from the show
* Photos from the show
* Audience reaction to the show
* Review: “It ain’t ‘Oklahoma!'”
* Congressman Goodlatte attends the show
* Review: “Most interactive show I’ve seen”
* Media interviews about the show
* The set takes shape
* Rehearsal photos
* Rehearsal begins
* The poster for the show

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Photos from “57 Hours in the House of Culture”

From left: Dmitri the musician, Olga the cosmetic clerk who entered the theatre (whose legs are visible),  Ivan the usher, Irina an audience member, Barayev the terrorist and Fatima the Black Widow. Not visible are audience members Andrei and Svetlana).

Here are the official production photos (courtesy of David Gross) from my show about the Moscow theatre siege, “57 Hours in the House of Culture,” that was produced at Studio Roanoke in May 2012.

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Audience reaction to “57 Hours in the House of Culture”

The “wreckage” of the theatre. The audience entered to find chairs overturned and the space littered with programs (in Russian), water bottles and candy wrappers.

The goal of the recent Studio Roanoke production of my script about the Moscow theatre siege — indeed, the goal of the script itself — was to make people feel like they were really there.

So the audience entered the lobby to find . . . a video of the actual production of “Nord-Ost” playing on a television screen . . . still photos of the Moscow production were posted . . . audience members were handed a program that was in Russian . . .and two soldiers in Russian military garb blocked the doors until showtime — when they quickly donned gas masks, threw open the doors and ran into the theatre space.

As audience members followed, they found cast members “dead” around the theatre . . . chairs overturned, and the floor littered with debris — water bottles, candy wrappers. I am indebted to Kenley Smith, Studio Roanoke’s founding patron and playwright in residence, for helping me visualize all of this, and to director Brian O’Sullivan for pulling it off.

I attended almost every night of the show (my son’s baseball schedule kept me away on two nights.) Most of the audience members I heard from “got” the concept; a few did not. One night, one woman sniffed “they didn’t do a very good job cleaning up the theatre after the last show” and appeared to be completely serious. Another night, one audience member, on his way out, started picking up the trash!

Other reactions: I’m told one audience member wiped away tears on opening night when Olga was shot. And I was there another night when a woman suffered a panic attack as soon as she entered the space and declined to see the show.

Here’s a summary of some other feedback that people have posted on Facebook: Read the rest of this entry »


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