Woolly Mammoth Cancels Moscow Festival

Woolly Mammoth Cancels Moscow Festival

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company has announced the cancellation of The Russians are Coming! A Festival of Radical New Theatre from Moscow. The project, announced in partnership with Philip Arnoult's Center for International Theatre Development (CITD) as part of Woolly Mammoth's 35th anniversary season, included productions helmed by some of Russia's most radical and well-respected theatre artists.

However, due to the political instability in Russia at this time-of which the Crimean invasion is simply one part-funding that had been approved for the Festival has now been frozen.

When work began, months ago, on putting the Festival together, there was a feeling of great optimism in Moscow's theatre community, with politically and socially-conscious works proliferating the stages of Russia's leading companies. Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz visited the capital last November to scout for the most innovative of these works and to negotiate the logistics for this groundbreaking festival. There was a mutual excitement for the cross-cultural dialogue it would spark in the nation's capital.

CITD founder and director Philip Arnoult just returned from Moscow last week with the sobering news of a very new and volatile climate. "I'm seeing a cultural war being fought against the background of the larger Ukrainian stories. Our artistic partners, as well as organizers in the country, are both stunned and saddened at how quickly the cultural climate has changed."

Says Shalwitz: "I have been traveling to see theatre in Eastern Europe for the past four years, and these are the works that have inspired me when I think about the evolution of our own work at Woolly Mammoth. Today, these very works and the artists who create them are in jeopardy. Reports from our colleagues in Russia are bleak, with news of arrests, intimidation, and fear for the direction their country is heading in. We stand in solidarity with Russia's artists, and we wish to express our heartfelt concern for the challenges they now face. Even though this Festival cannot continue as planned, we will continue to explore other opportunities to engage with them, which seems more important now than ever."

The loss of the Moscow Festival leaves a gap in Woolly Mammoth's 35th anniversary season. The theatre is currently exploring a number of different options to fill that gap and intends to announce a replacement in the coming weeks. Season 35 subscribers may reach out to the Woolly Mammoth Box Office at 202-393-3939 or tickets@woollymammoth.net with any concerns or questions regarding their subscriptions.

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