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Archive for Life in Russia, Culture, Arts, Theater, Music

When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru - August 27, 2014) When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers When the First Congress of Soviet Writers opened on Aug. 17, 1934 in Moscow, it marked a watershed in Soviet literature. The artistic freedom that had characterized the turbulent 1920s was

Ferapontov Monastery

Ferapontov Monastery file photo, adapted from wikimedia commons image at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ferapontov_Monastery_020509.jpg, posted by Enotovidnii

Subject: Ferapontov Monastery Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2014 From: William Brumfield <william.brumfield@gmail.com> My current article for Russia beyond the Headlines is devoted to the radiant frescoes created at  in 1502 by the artist Dionisy and his two sons. The monastery and its frescoes are on the UNESCO World Heritage list: rbth.com/travel/2014/08/08/ferapontov_monastery_sublime _beauty_in_the_russian_north_38893.html For best results

Moscow Times: Eight Things That Will Make You Jealous of Russians and Their Dachas

Map of Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 9, 2014) [Missing photos here themoscowtimes.com/news/article/8-things-that-will-make-you-jealous-of-russians-and-their-dachas/504792.html] In summer, the dacha becomes the focal point of Russian existence. Children and grandparents live there while school is out, and those who still have to work head out for their own bit of greenery once Friday afternoon rolls around. It doesn’t have

The Winners of the 22nd Moscow Times Theater Awards

Mayakovsky Theater at Night, file photo; adapted from image from Creative Commons/wikimedia/Shuvaev

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – August 7, 2014) What a year. Drama. Histrionics. Villainy. Hubris. Intrigue. Tragedy. And I haven’t even begun considering the 2013-2014 theater season. You guessed it. It is time for the annual Moscow Times Theater Awards. For the 22nd year running, I take a look back at why

New Era Looms After Golden Age of ‘New Drama’

Mayakovsky Theater at Night, file photo; adapted from image from Creative Commons/wikimedia/Shuvaev

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – August 1, 2014) It has been an astonishing run. But doesn’t every run come to an end? The number of major playwrights that Russia put up over the last 15 to 18 years may make all other eras in the history of Russian drama pale by comparison.

Making sense of war: The perspective of five great Russian writers

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Mikhail Butov, special to RBTH – July 23, 2014) The author is a writer and Russian Booker Prize winner. The current conflict in Ukraine is raising sensitive ethical questions, forcing us to consider the justifications and meaning of using military force, and whether it should be allowed at

The Nightmare of Being a Russian-Language Ukrainian Playwright

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – July 21, 2014) “I don’t know what to do about it, John. It is a nightmare and it is hell. And something in me has been broken irreparably.” Thus responded Maksym Kurochkin, a Ukrainian Russian-language playwright, to my question about what he is experiencing these days. As

Arts world up in arms as Russia bans swearwords in films, books and TV

Movie Theater file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headliines – rbth.ru – Nikolai Litovkin, RBTH – July 2, 2014) A law making it illegal to use swearwords in television, movies, literature, media reporting, concerts, and theatrical productions entered into force on July 1. Violators will face stiff fines. Prominent figures have expressed their dismay over the ban, arguing that it

Few Russian Artists Bother to Fight Creeping Trend of Censorship

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – June 23, 2014) As we approach July 1, the day after which obscenities will officially be banned in Russian art, the Russian creative community is doing what it can to make sense of a concerted push on the part of the government to regulate the arts and

Russians Unfazed by Nudists But Outraged by Transsexuals, Poll Shows

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 23, 2014) While a majority of Russians feel a sense of outrage toward transsexuals, most could not care less about nudists, a somewhat questionable poll concludes. The poll, published Monday by independent pollster Levada Center – presumably testing Russians’ attitudes to non-traditional behavior – showed roughly equal numbers of

Happy in Yakutia and Russia

Map of Russia

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – June 23, 2014) Could you be happy living somewhere where temperatures drop below 50 degrees Celsius in the nine-month-long winters? It seems hard to imagine, but the residents of Siberia’s Yakutia in the heart of the Asian part of Russia – the coldest place

The Russian novel returns: Solovki prison, the defense industry, and an agronomist called Gogol

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Georgy Manaev, RBTH – June 15, 2014) The shortlist for the ninth annual national literary prize “The Big Book” has been unveiled. This is Russia’s most influential literary award in mainstream prose and – with a prize fund of $174,000 – its most lucrative. The winners will be

Russia Day: The country’s most misunderstood day off

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – June 12, 2014 Nikolai Litovkin, RBTH – June 12, 2014) On June 12, Russia celebrates one of its youngest national holidays, Russia Day. Nominally a celebration of Russian statehood, the significance of the day is widely misunderstood, even within the country itself. What is the history of the

Volkostrelov Resurrects Soviet ’60s

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – June 10, 2014) In “1968. Novy Mir” at the Taganka Theater, Dmitry Volkostrelov shrewdly found a way to combine aesthetics, artistic methods and themes that are capable of unifying that distant era with the world we inhabit. Someone may think he did not do much, just put

Happiness is sharing dacha memories

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Joy Neumeyer, special to RBTH – June 8, 2014) Tomatoes, bikes and boyfriends: Russians and Americans share their dacha memories When Natalia Filonova talks about her dacha, she can’t talk quickly enough. She rattles off the most recent improvements she’s made with breathless pride: 23 new trees, a

Russia’s got talent: The making of the nation’s future musicians and artists

Sheet Music in the Midst of Artist's Outline of Human Head and Brain

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – June 1, 2014) There are more than 5,000 music and art schools in modern Russia. Here children can learn to play different instruments and master the basics of painting or sculpture practically free of charge, in addition to their regular education. Teaching staff note

Moscow Places Near Bottom in TripAdvisor Cities Survey

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Breffny Morgan – May 29, 2014) Sanctions may come and go, but bad reviews last a lifetime. TripAdvisor, the second most popular travel website, has recently blasted Russia on several counts of being the world’s worst travel destination in its yearly Cities Survey. This is not an overt move by

‘Donkey Heart’ Shows Soviet Past Behind Family Turmoil

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Elizabeth Kaplunov – May 27, 2014) As the Soviet Union fades from the memories of the youngest generations of Russians, it still underpins the consciousness of their parents. The play “Donkey Heart,” written by Moses Raine and directed by his sister Nina Raine, focuses on the psychological setup of a

‘Culture’ Newspaper Condemns Contemporary Theater Again

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 26, 2014) I forced myself to read the entire article. It was not easy to do. But it had to be done. The Culture newspaper, which made headlines in April by attacking 29 contemporary Russian writers and directors as propagators of “sleaze, obscenities and perversion,” is

Bolshoi Theater announces plans for new season ahead of U.S. tour

Bolshoi Theater file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Dmitriy Romendik, RBTH – May 19, 2014) After a series of high-profile scandals at the Bolshoi Theater led to a change in leadership, fans of opera and ballet have been left wondering which direction the theater will now take. The Bolshoi has now announced the details of its

Medinsky the Media Magnet

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 19, 2014) Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky received an honorary fellowship on Thursday a few days late and not quite as planned. The institution doing the honors was Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy, but a planned ceremony in Italy on May 12 was junked at

Local Promoter Speaks Out Against Boycotts

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sergey Chernov – May 13, 2014) With a growing number of Western artists boycotting Russia in protest of its annexation of Crimea and destabilization in southeastern Ukraine, a St. Petersburg concert promoter has spoken out against their actions, saying that these musicians are only hurting fans. Ilya Bortnyuk, whose agency

Garage Encourages Spontaneity and Engagement with ‘Do It’

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Timothy Misir – May 8, 2014) A young woman attempting to pull out a tablecloth from a dining table, littering the floor with broken tableware in the process, a naked and blindfolded lady guided by a remote-controlled tank mounted on her head wandering the gallery and the students of Strelka

Brush Up Your Shakespeare to Understand Today’s Russia

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 5, 2014) “Hamlet.” Has there ever been a better play to fall back on when you need to have a chat about Russia? “Words, words, words.” “To be or not to be.” “The rest is silence.” All phrases that sound loaded in many a Russian historical

Language and Culture Not History ‘Main Unifying Factors’ for Russians, Valdai Club Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, April 24, 2014) The Russian language and Russian culture are today “the main unifying factor[s]” for the citizens of the Russian Federation, unlike history which continues to be a source of divisions given that different groups have different understandings of past events, according to the Valdai International

Pussy Riot Lands in U.S. for Film Premiere

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ali Sar – HOLLYWOOD, April 22, 2014) An image of young women clad in colorful outfits peeping through ski masks while being detained and clobbered by the police has been a part of evening newscasts in the U.S. for some time, most recently during the Sochi Olympics. Casual viewers have

Homegrown Films Beat Hollywood Imports in the Battle for Viewers

Movie Theater file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – April 17, 2014) After a string of domestic blockbusters and the strongest first quarter in recent years, it seems fair to say that the Russian film industry is on the rise – but the story is far from over, a local producer says. “Russian cinema is experiencing

Apparatchik Apartments: Behind the facades of the House on the Embankment

Back side of House on Embankment (central part), view from Patriarshy Bridge pedestrian walkway, from Wikimedia Commons, user NVO, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moscow,_House_on_Embankment_back_side.jpg

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Dmitriy Romendik, RBTH – April 16, 2014) This huge apartment block across the river from the Kremlin is one of the enduring symbols of the Stalin era. In the 1930s the apartments inside were allocated only to senior officials and the Soviet elite, but when many of them

Culture Ministry Purges Prominent Arts Figures

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – April 11, 2014) The Russian Culture Ministry raised eyebrows this week by replacing several respected figures in two departments involving the fine arts and theater. Many admit it was high time for these experts to be rotated out of their positions. But most also suggest that the

The heady style of the heady 1990s

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Inna Fedorova, special to RBTH – April 8, 2014) The Russia of the 1990s is staunchly associated with the epithet “heady”. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the arrival of democracy gave the nation not only freedom of choice and an abundance of goods, but also organized

‘Geograf’ Picks Up Top Russian Film Award

Movie Theater file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 2, 2014) Alexander Veledinsky’s “Geograf Globus Propil” was the big winner at this year’s Nika awards for Russian film, picking up a bundle of the top awards. The Nika, an annual Russian film award named after the Roman goddess for victory Nike, awarded prizes to the best movies of

Snowstorm Paralyzes Moscow on April Fool’s Day

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 2, 2014) A snowstorm buffeted Moscow for about 18 hours, snarling traffic and blanketing the city in a record 17 centimeters of white that many residents probably wished was an April Fool’s joke. “Winter has returned to Moscow, and this is no April Fool’s joke,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said

Most Russians believe women should stay at home

Two Babushkas file photo

(Moscow News – moscownews.com – David Burghardt – March 7, 2014) A woman’s place is in the kitchen, according to a recent poll by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research (VTsIOM) published on Friday. According to the latest survey, 72 percent of Russians believe a woman should choose the home and family over her

Maslenitsa Weekend in Moscow

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katerina Azarova – February 28, 2014) Sunshine and pancakes: If you ask me, it doesn’t get any better than that. That’s what Moscow is all about this week, because it’s Maslenitsa time! The delicious, gluttonous week of sweet and savory pancakes before Lent is finally upon us, and you should

The 10 most well-known Russian words

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexey Mikheev, special to RBTH  - January 30, 2014) Words like vodka and Kalashnikov are know around the world. But how many people realize that they come from the Russian language? Russian actively borrows words from other languages, mainly English. But there are also Russian words that travel

Ten more well-known Russian words

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexey Mikheev, special to RBTH – February 20, 2014) Following the publication of my earlier piece “The 10 most well-known Russian words”, readers have responded with suggestions of more Russian words that have become known and used internationally. So in response to these requests I have written about

Russian Writers Call for Free Speech as Pasternak’s Birthday Celebrated

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – D. Garrison Golubock and Olga Chetina – February 17, 2014) Feb. 11 marked the 124th anniversary of the birth of Boris Pasternak, the famed Soviet author best known for his book “Doctor Zhivago,” which was published abroad after being banned in the Soviet Union. Pasternak’s birthday was celebrated with great

NEWSLINK: Russians hold outdoor kissathon in coldest city

Red Valentine's Heart

["Russians hold outdoor kissathon in coldest city" - AFP - February 14, 2014 - news.yahoo.com/russians-hold-outdoor-kissathon-coldest-city-140334458.html] Russian couples in Yakutsk took part in a Saint Valentine’s Day kissing contest called “Love warms you up,” with the winners kissing for one hour and twenty minutes, the last 20 minutes spent with the man also picking the woman

NEWSLINK: Russians use ‘love’ emoticon on Facebook more than any other

Red Valentine's Heart

["Russians use 'love' emoticon on Facebook more than any other" - San Francisco Business Times - Steven E.F. Brown- February 13, 2014 - bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2014/02/russians-love-emoticon-facebook-berkeley.html?page=all] The San Francisco Business Times reports that the top emoticon for Russian facebook users is the love icon.  Yet researchers at Cal-Berkeley and Cambridge provide a mixed assessment of what that

RIA Novosti: Russians Unwilling to See Their First Love Again – Poll

Cartoon Hearts Spelling L O V E

MOSCOW, February 14 (RIA Novosti) – Most Russians remember their first love but only 13 percent would like to meet up with that person again, a poll conducted ahead of St. Valentine’s Day showed. Eighty-five percent of adult Russians said they had fallen in love, while nine percent of Russians said they have never lost

Literature on the front lines: Russian writers in the Caucasus conflicts

chechnya-military

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Phoebe Taplin, special to RBTH – February 11, 2014) The tradition of literature exploring conflict in the Caucasus began with the great stories by Lermontov and Tolstoy, and is carried on by today’s writers: RBTH presents 5 contemporary authors, each with military experience and individual views on duty,

RIA Novosti: Half of Russians Are in Love – Poll

Artistic Rendition of Valentine's Heart

MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) – Almost half of Russians are currently in love, although men with romantic feelings outnumber women, according to a new poll released Tuesday. Some 48 percent of Russians admitted to being in love, 4 percent less than in 2011, the survey by the independent Levada Center found. But, implying some

Top things Google says Russians are

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anna Sorokina, RBTH – February 3, 2014) RBTH gets to the heart of what Russians and Americans think about each other by examining the most searched phrases in Google and Russia’s main search engine, Yandex. Thousands of miles lie between Russia and the U.S. – and that distance

Russian writers and rulers: the love-hate relationship

Alexander Solzhenitsyn file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – February 3, 2014) For Russian literature, it’s time again for a political choice: for or against Putin? RBTH presents an overview of the problem and interviews experts. Russian literature and government power have always had something of a love-hate relationship. There have been periods when writers were exiled

TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art Presidium

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Kremlin.ru – February 3, 2014) Vladimir Putin chaired an expanded meeting of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art Presidium on developing theatre. Before the start of the meeting, the President visited the Pskov Academic Drama Theatre, which recently underwent restoration and construction work. Speech at a meeting of the Council for Culture and Art

Visiting Russians at home

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anna Trofimova, RBTH – February 2, 2014) RBTH has selected the most widespread traditions and stereotypes linked to Russian hospitality. It is no secret that foreigners sometimes associate Russia with everlasting cold, bears, vodka and the rudeness of its people. So much for the stereotypes. But what kind

What public opinion polls tell us about Russians

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anastasiya Maltseva, special to RBTH – January 29, 2014) Recent polls show that Russians value family first and look cautiously at the West. But well over half of the population will follow the Sochi Olympics. For Russians, family is what matters most. Most Russians hope for the better

‘Reconstruction’ Brings ’90s Back to Russian Art

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Christopher Brennan – January 28, 2014) The 1990s are often thought of in the West as a decade with relatively few problems. One-hit wonder bands sang sincerely while hip, neoliberal politicians managed booming economies. The 90s in Russia, however, was a more turbulent time and art from the period shows

Translation challenges the brightest minds

Leo Tolstoy file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Phoebe Taplin, special to RBTH – January 14, 2014) Top translators of Tolstoy and Pelevin talk to RBTH about misunderstandings, cultural differences and how not to get lost in translation.   Each year scores of books are translated from Russian to English. This year has seen publications in

Old New Year Has Enduring Popularity in Russia

File Photo of New Year's Eve Revelers With Sparkler Near Kremlin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 13, 2014) Nearly half of Russians are planning to ring in the “Old New Year” on Monday night, in a sign of the enduring popularity of the holiday based on the old Julian calendar. “Old New Year” is a legacy of the calendar that the country used before the

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