Russian Theatre Festival in London – Febuary 2010

A Festival of Russian and Russian-language plays will be performing on Mon 1 Feb – Thurs 4 Feb, 2010, 7.30pm at Soho Theatre, London. Produced by Sputnik Theatre Company in association with Soho Theatre.

SPUTNIK THEATRE COMPANY is launching the first annual RUSSIAN THEATRE FESTIVAL in the UK, presenting four British premieres by emerging Russian-language playwrights in English.

Dreams by NATALYA KOLYADA (1 Feb 2010) is a fictionalised account of real testimonies from Belarus. Maria, Anna, Olga and Elena didn’t know each other until their boyfriends and husbands had a run-in with the state. For the four women to speak out is dangerous – but to stay silent is impossible. KOLYADA is a co-founder of Free Theatre, an underground theatre company in Belarus whose Patrons are Vaclav Havel and Tom Stoppard.

Tityus The Irreproachable by MAKSIM KUROCHKIN (2 Feb 2010) is a futuristic political satire. The Administrator-Killer of United Mankind is in trouble. The terrorists have gone into hiding. The Administrator-Killer discovers that clues have been hidden in contemporary Russian playwriting. But what he and his Captain find is not what they were expecting… Tityus won Moscow’s prestigious New Drama Award 2008.


Mums by VLADIMIR ZUEV (3 Feb 2010) is a detailed and moving portrait based on real testimonies of Russia’s taboo subject – Chechnya. Vera, Rosa, Oldest and Youngest live in a basement of a dilapidated building in central Grozny. They didn’t want to come but they refuse to leave until they’ve found their sons. ZUEV won the Eurasia Award 2007 for Mums.

Natasha’s Dreams by YAROSLAVA PULINOVICH (4 Feb 2010) is a dramatic monologue about the fate of orphans in modern-day Russia. Natasha almost dies when she jumps out of a window in the orphanage – for a dare. But as she falls, she realises that she’s always dreamed of love. When she wakes up in hospital, a local journalist comes to interview her, and she wonders if this might be the beginning of a new life. PULINOVICH’s Beyond The Track was presented at the RSC’s Russian Season in September 2009.

Also at the Festival: free post-show discussions by specialist speakers following each performance (see listings below), a photography exhibition in the foyer by photographers from the region and a literature stand with contemporary Russian literature.

“Anyone following the developments of Russian drama would do well to follow what [Festival Director] Noah Birksted-Breen is up to. He is on a mission to ensure that Russian drama will once again have its day in British theater.” Moscow Times

“Sputnik’s Russian Theatre Festival will provide a platform for a new generation of Russian playwrights to premiere their work in the UK.” Noah Birksted-Breen, Festival Director

The Festival is a pilot project that aims to bring full productions of New Russian drama from Britain, America, Australia, Russia and France in the coming years.

1 February 2010: Dreams by NATALYA KOLYADA.
2 February 2010: Tityus The Irreproachable by MAKSIM KUROCHKIN.
3 February 2010: Mums by VLADIMIR ZUEV.
4 February 2010: Natasha’s Dreams by YAROSLAVA PULINOVICH.

All plays are translated and directed as rehearsed readings by Noah Birksted-Breen.

For more information, please go visit:


A former journalist and ex-assistant editor of the Edinburgh Evening News is performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, after dramatically changing careers at the beginning of this year.  John McColl, who stars in Ella Hickson’s latest production ‘Precious Little Talent’, spent over 30 years working as a reporter and editor in the UK media before switching to the theatre in January.

Speaking of the decision, McColl says ‘I’ve always been interested in acting – there are a lot of actors in my family – but I hit a crossroads in my teens between journalism and acting, and I went for newspapers.  I had some good times as a journalist, but as I got older I started thinking if I don’t do it, I’ll always have a “what if” and I didn’t want any regrets.’

He is very excited about the Fringe and the possibilities for ‘Precious Little Talent’ saying, ‘it’s brilliant, I’m getting paid for what I love to do’.  He has previously performed in amateur productions at the Fringe, and this year is also appearing in ‘A Promised Land’ at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

So far, McColl has appeared in ‘Lapse’ a 2009 film by BG Productions screened at The Filmhouse, and two plays; Saint Joan at the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe, and ‘To The Cross’, both performed at the Theatre Alba. He has also written four plays, including ‘Sandcastles on the Beach’ (published by Samuel French and performed in UK, and other countries including China, Australia and Germany), and ‘The Hunchback of St Giles’ (now at the Scottish Storytelling Centre).

In ‘Precious Little Talent’, which opens next week, John plays George, a 65-year-old English man living in New York.  A cuttingly intelligent ex-professor of linguistics, George is a man living with a secret that he tries desperately to keep hidden from his daughter, Joey, when she unexpectedly joins him for Christmas.

Pitching American optimism against British cynicism and asking which holds up when times get tough, ‘Precious Little Talent’ is a warm, funny and beautifully written story of memory and family, of daughters and lovers, of aspiration and frustration, told by a generation fighting not to be forgotten.


For more information or to book tickets for ‘Precious Little Talent’ at the Fringe.