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Announcing Russia/United States Translation Exchange Program

Lark News
Rodion, Ksenia, and Olzhas

The Lark is proud to announce a residency program that will bring three Russian writers to the United States, to work on English translations of their plays.  While in the short term this program is designed to create stage worthy English translations of new works from Russia, its larger purpose is to establish ongoing channels of artistic collaboration and communication between Russian and American theater artists.  The program launched last year, when Lark playwrights Eric Dufault, Arthur Kopit, and Dominique Morisseau traveled to Moscow, to work on Russian translations of their plays at the Meyerhold Theater and Cultural Center.

“I think global exchange is extremely important because art opens up the lines of communication between nations,” said Morisseau. “From my own experience this is not always a fluid or un-challenging process, but it has been necessary.  It teaches me how to articulate my convictions around my art in a way that defies barrier of language and culture.” 

The three writers who will be joining us at The Lark this year are Rodion Beletsky (Noise Following the Plane or A Conversation That Never Happened), Ksenia Dragunskaya (Wild Mushrooms or Shipwreck), and Olzhas Zhanaydarov(The Store).  Over the course of the week-long residency, each writer will engage in a roundtable reading of his or her play, a curated discussion around the material, and a rehearsal period which will culminate in a public presentation of the play.  The public readings of the plays will take place November 3rd-5th, 2015 at The Lark BareBones Studio. All tickets are free, but reservations are required.  Reservations will open October 14, 2015, at

Through the various channels of this residency, the writers will work to meet a set of self-defined goals for their scripts centered on developing the plays for production, as well as creating material that will spark global conversations among American audiences. 

“I am proud and excited about the opportunity to bring these three amazing authors to The Lark,” said The Lark’s Russia-U.S. Exchange Partner, Evgeny Kazachov. “Olzhas is driven by his heartfelt protest against injustice and social sores; Ksenia knows how to mix up sincerity, anticipation, happiness and a tragic note; Rodion knows how to make people laugh, but he always adds an existential dimension to his works.  I am excited to see how the translation process and working with the American artistic teams will enrich these writers' visions.”

This program increases the profile of Russian playwrights in the U.S. and, reciprocally, U.S. playwrights in Russia, while fostering respect and mutual understanding among playwrights and their collaborators.  Through this program, The Lark hopes to better understand circumstances and conditions in post-Soviet Russia and how they relate to our own. The larger goal is to create a replicable model for community engagement and free expression, grapple with the realities of censorship and self-censorship and represent a balance of U.S. and global perspectives through a more relevant and culturally inclusive theater repertoire.

“Our exchange program with Russia is all about finding common ground,” said Lark Artistic Director John Clinton Eisner. “When a roomful of theater artists spend two days translating a single page of a play from one language into another, you know it isn't just about the words. Rather, it is about collectively unpacking our assumptions about other people – what they want, how they see themselves, and how they see us.”

Funding for The Russia-U.S. Translation Exchange program has been generously provided by Theatre Communications Group.


November 3rd at 7pm
by Ksenia Dragunskaya
​​translated by Anna Mazurova
​directed by Giovanna Sardelli

Anya and Amarantha, two twelve-year-old girls in neighboring dachas, meet a strange man and begin to spend their summer days with him. They pass the time walking through fields and woods, until their disapproving parents attempt to keep them apart.  But despite the families best efforts, it seems that to Anya and Amarntha, this man may turn out to be impossible to forget, and impossible to live without.

November 4th at 7pm
by Olzhas Zhanaydarov
​translated by John Freedman

directed by Alfredo Narciso
The Store tells the story of a young Kazakh girl who leaves home for Moscow, where she gets a job in a grocery store owned by a Kazakhstani immigrant. This true story explores the relationships between owner and employee, mistress and slave, and tyrant and rebel.

November 5th at 7pm
by Rodion Beletsky

translated by Anna Mazurova
​directed by Lisa Rothe

After losing his best friend, Igor, an inconsolable Protagonist pictures a conversation in which he asks Igor the most important question – what happens after death?  Igor promises to unravel the mystery of existence, and asks the Character to recall the happiest, most worry-free moments of his life.


RODION BELETSKY is a Russian writer, playwright and screenwriter who began his theater career more than 18 years ago. He graduated from VGIK, and has participated in workshops at NN Figurovskogo. He has received more than 100 productions in theaters in Russia and abroad and has been published in the journals New World, Banner, and Modern Drama. Beletsky is the author of the song “I Always Take a Camera” (from the program “Do Not Play”). He has received awards from Modern Drama magazine for the play The Fans; Eurasia for the script Knights of the Round Table; Children of Ra magazine for the play Three Attempts to Pass. He is also the author of the detective novels, The Clown at Midnight (2008, ed. EKSMO, Moscow), and Knight is on the Trail (2012, ed. EKSMO, Moscow). He is fluent in English and French in addition to Russian.

KSENIA DRAGUNSKAYA is a playwright and prose writer from Moscow who has penned more than thirty plays and several books of prose. She studied script writing at the State Cinema Institute in Moscow, graduating in 1988. She also worked at Mosfilm film studio as an editor of screenplays and as an author and TV presenter of broadcasts for children. In 1994 she successfully made her playwriting debut with the play Apple Thief at the Lubimovka New Drama Festival. Her plays have been staged in Moscow and other cities in Russia and exUSSR. Dragunskaya's plays for children and adults have been produced in nearly every Russian city that has a theater. Her texts have been translated into many languages including English, French, German, Finnish, Czech, Serbian, and Japanese. Dragunskaya is a member of PEN International and Theater Union of Russia. She speaks French and English in addition to Russian.

OLZHAS ZHANAYDAROV was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 1980. His father was an army officer, and in 1987 his family moved to Moscow. In 2002, he graduated from the Russian Plekhanov's Academy of Economics with honors and went on to work as a manager while writing short poems, literature notes, stories and essays. His work has been published in the Russian magazines Neva and Prolog, and he is the author of the novel The Sun at its Zenith. In 2010, his first play, Two at the Café, was included in the Russian drama contest Premiere.txt. His second play, Earplugs (2011), was awarded GranPrix of the International Competition of Modern Drama, Free Theatre, and won First Prize at the International Playwrights' Competition, Eurasia. The Soul of a Pillow (2013) won First Prize at Little Premiere. This caused a public scandal in the summer of 2014, when Vladimir Aristarkhov, first deputy in the Ministry of Culture, accused the play of “promoting homosexual propaganda among minors.” Zhanaydarov's most recent play, The Store (2014) received a Debut Prize for Young Authors nomination and a National Theatre Award Golden Mask for Best Play. It was presented as a staged reading at the Young Drama Festival, Lubimovka, in autumn 2014. His plays have been produced at theaters in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Petropavlovsk and Almaty. He is a member of the Moscow Writers Union and speaks Russian and English.

EVGENY KAZACHOV (Russia-U.S. Exchange Partner) is the Art Director of the Lubimovka Young Playwriting Festival, and has been a theater professional for nine years. His work as a translator includes Anna in Tropics by Nilo Cruz into Russian (premiere at the Electroteatr Stanislavsky, Moscow, March 2015 and Drama Theater, Tomsk, April 2015) and Kingdom Gone by Robert Kerr (presented at the Lubimovka Festival 2011 and supported by The Lark). He is the author of two documentary plays - Oleg Kulik: The Drumming (premiere at the Praktika Theater, Moscow, November 2010) and David Yang: The Fuel (premiere at Pop-Up Theatre, Saint-Petersburg, September 2015) - in the framework of the Person.doc project (Chelovek.doc), dedicated to contemporary Russian cultural and IT heroes. He has worked as a playwright tutor in several CLASS ACT projects (Sochi and Moscow), where teenagers write their first plays and professional actors, directors, and stage managers help the young writers take their plays from page to stage. Further projects include THE PRAGUE SPRING project developed (in collaboration with Czeсh playwrights) and presented as staged readings in Prague and Moscow in 2013; THE WINTER WAR project, developed with the Russian-Finnish laboratory, with staged readings performed at the Baltic Circle 2009 and Golden Mask 2010 festivals; THE 1612 PROJECT (in collaboration with Polish partners) was staged during the Miasto 2007 festival in Legnica, Poland, and in Teatr.doc in Moscow as a coproduction of Ad Spectatores theatre (Wroclaw, Poland) and Teatr.doc (Moscow). Education: New York Film Academy, State University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Management department. Kazachov speaks Russian, English and Spanish.