American Premiere of ILLUSIONS to Play Baryshnikov Arts Center, 9/17-24

American Premiere of ILLUSIONS to Play Baryshnikov Arts Center, 9/17-24

Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) will introduce New York audiences to a leading voice in Russia's contemporary theater scene with the American Premiere of award-winning playwright Ivan Viripaev's Illusions. The U.S.-born artist Cazimir Liske, who graduated from the Moscow Art Theatre School and has been based in Moscow for the past decade, translated the text to English and, with significant residency and technical support from BAC, has developed a new staging of the work, a darkly comedic examination of true love.

The production, which marks Liske's U.S. directorial debut, will run September 17-24 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center's Jerome Robbins Theater (450 West 37th Street). Performances will take place September 17-20, 23 & 24 at 8PM. Critics are welcome as of the first performance, on Wednesday, September 17, for an official opening on Thursday, September 18. The running time is 80 minutes. Tickets, $25, can be purchased at or 866-811-4111.

Set in a place vaguely resembling America, Illusions is beguilingly simple. Four actors-in the New York premiere, Anthony Gaskins (Honky; Fetch Clay, Make Man), Stephanie Hayes (Richard Foreman, February House), Annie Purcell (Broadway productions of Dividing the Estate, The Coast of Utopia),and Mickey Solis (Robert Woodruff, CSC)-narrate the intertwining stories of two married couples looking back on their lives. Viripaev's language is full of levity and grace, playfully unraveling paradoxes of passion and death, loyalty and betrayal, truth and fiction, hope and despair. Reviewing a recent production of the Liske translation at the York Theatre Royal, Lyn Gardner of The Guardian wrote, "It's like a bedtime story gone awry. The threat is our inability to make sense of a shifting universe, to really know another human being and keep love constant."

The American Premiere creative team includes Arnulfo Maldonado (set design), Oana Botez (costume design), Thomas Dunn (lighting design), Vladimir Gusev (video), and Gocha Tsinadze (music). Daisuke Kawachi is the stage manager.

BAC has shepherded the development of the work from its early stages in the studio through to the upcoming full production. Liske first came to BAC in 2008 and 2009 to lead workshops with the Moscow Art Theatre School, when he was a student there. In 2013, BAC awarded him a five-week residency and technical support to develop a new staging of Illusions. Liske had performed in the original Russian production in 2011, and in the U.K. tour of his own English language translation, an Actors Touring Company production, in 2012.

This production of Illusions reflects BAC's role as a locus of international cultural exchange and expression, and as an American home for artists and work from Central and Eastern Europe.

Viripaev isRussia's foremost contemporary playwright and screenwriter. He is a graduate of the Irkutsk Drama School and the Moscow Drama School. He founded the theater group Play Space and is artistic director of the Praktika Theater in Moscow. Viripaev's acclaimed theater works include Illusions (2011), July (2006), Genesis No 2 (2004) and Oxygen (2003). He has written and directed films including Delhi Dance (2012), Oxygen (2009), and Euphoria (2006). Among his many accolades are the prestigious Golden Mask Award, the International New Drama Festival Award, and awards at the Venice, Warsaw, and Sochi film festivals.

Born in Denver, Colorado, theater artist Liskeis a graduate of Dartmouth College and trained at the Moscow Art Theatre School. His Moscow stage credits include Illusions (Praktika), Lafkadio (Meyerhold Center), Woe from Wit and West Side Story (both at Moscow Art Theatre). In the UK, his credits include the Actors Touring Company's production of Sarah Kane's Crave and Liske's English language translation of Ivan Viripaev's Illusions, directed by Ramin Gray. Other collaborations with Viripaev include Delhi Dance, Sugar, and Grace and Grit. Liske is a faculty member of the Moscow Art Theatre School.

About Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) - BAC is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov who sought to build an arts center in Manhattan that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines. BAC's opening in 2005 heralded the launch of this mission, establishing a thriving creative laboratory and performance space for artists from around the world. BAC's activities encompass a robust residency program augmented by a range of professional services, including commissions of new work, as well as the presentation of performances by artists at varying stages of their careers. In tandem with its commitment to supporting artists, BAC is dedicated to building audiences for the arts by presenting contemporary, innovative work at affordable ticket prices. For more information, visit

Related Articles

Off-Off-Broadway THEATER Stories | Shows

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...