January, 17 2013 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of Konstantin Sergeevich Stanislavsky, and the United Russian-American Association (URAA) organized a festival to commemorate this date. One of the sponsors is the Russian World foundation. It is also supported by the Russian Consulate in Houston. However, the main sponsors of the festival are the theatrical companies that participate in it, serving the theatre and preserving Russian culture and traditions overseas.
By responding to a call of the soul, they popularize the artistic heritage and help preserve the Russian language among compatriots in America. The goals of the festival are to preserve and develop Russian theater culture among compatriots, to provide creative communication, and create conditions for actors and directors to teach and enrich themselves. It will be a forum for the exchange of artistic and esthetic ideas in the fields of producing, acting and screen writing.
During the festival’s opening ceremony on Saturday, January, 19, 2013, guests on the URAA premises could see a performance of Chekhov’s The Bear by the Houston-based Blue Bird theater company. They also saw a puppet show by the Texas Puppet Theater, which was founded by the URAA. They listened to excerpts from A Free Couple, and to humorous stories read from behind the scenes by actors of the Enterprise Theater. They took part in the dances and games suggested by a folk theater company Sudarushka.
A director from the Houston Russian Theater, Vladimir Shtern, opened the festival by saying a few words about Stanislavsky’s role in the development of the Russian theater. He told the audience that Chekhov himself defined the genre of his one-act play The Bear as a “joke.” His company decided to continue the joke by giving the roles of the young characters to not-so-young actors- Vladimir Patrunov and Ludmila Sharf.
That was risky, because each of them had to memorize a long text. Vladimir and Ludmila overcame the difficulties brilliantly. They were acting with spirit and the 45- minute play went by “as if in one breath," to quote a Russian expression.
Next the audience saw a puppet show, GEESE AND SWANS, in the thriller style, with parody songs and an interactive game, “Guess the Author.” There were parodies of Pushkin, Lermontov, Nekrasov, Yesenin, as well as the Soviet children’s authors Barto and Mikhalkov. (You can see the whole show on the web site (www.uraa.us).The puppet theater is less than one year old. All puppets were made by URAA`s talented hands.
In 2012, the puppet theater also had a performance during the Festival “Slavyanka” called “Fairy Tale Come!” It had three shows. Recently a school from Wood Lands took our puppets to perform at a seniors' home. Some puppets are sent to Dallas for a show in the Russian School of Dallas. Now we are preparing for a show called “A Magic Horse,” where we plan to perform Fairy Tales from the Urals by Peter Ershov. By the way, the symbol of our first theater festival is a doll called The Director. It symbolizes those who serve the theater.
Sudarushka engaged audience in dancing traditional dances and singing folk music. It was led by a couple, Larissa and Vadim Angerov Sudarushka was founded a few years ago after the couple’s trip to Moscow to participate in a Russian song competition organized by Elena Suvorova-Philips.
After the show, there was a feast with Russian pies, cabbage, cold meat, tea and cakes. Everything was just right that day, the Russian Orthodox holiday called Svyatki, between Christmas and Baptism. After all, a theater starts with a cloakroom, as Stanislavsky said, and the actor’s place is in the bar, as Ostrovsky wrote. You can see the whole performance on the web site www.uraa.us
On January, 20, audiences could see the performance of Puss in Boots by the Russian children’s theater company Joy, led by Ludmila Winer. The young actors of course stole the show in their bright costumes and sets. The premises were financed by the United Russian American Association.