February 12, 2022

All the Village Is a Stage


All the Village Is a Stage
A snapshot during the performance "Pick Mushrooms"  Myra.ru.

Performance art isn't just something for an urban environment; in the small village of Fomikha, it has found a place to flourish. 

"Out of the way" is the best way to describe Fomikha: you either have to use the ferry or you'll have to come fully equipped with an off-road vehicle to get to this settlement four hours east of Moscow. However, rough terrain won't be the only wild ride you'll go on when you arrive here. There’s a new theater in town, and it's ready to show the local village in a new light.

It started in the summer of 2020, when a group of actors, directors, and artists from Moscow arrived and bought a cattle barn, turning it into a small theater hall. Originally, it was only going to be a place for artist residencies, but after they performed Natalia Zaitseva's walking play "Pick Mushrooms," which features a psychedelic adventure into the forest and discusses the relationship between people and the outside world, all of Fomikha became a stage: all of its forests, fields, and rivers.

The company went on to create more plays that incorporate the landscape. On the one hand, it creates a more magical experience and on the other, it means that there is no need to build elaborate indoor sets. “In the play ['Pick Mushrooms'], an ecologist invents mushrooms that eat plastic. If we performed it inside, we would have needed elaborate sets, but when we came out into the forest, we saw a garbage dump covered [with] real mushrooms. It was amazing,” Dmitry Maksimenkov, a member of the company, remarked.

In January 2021, tragedy struck and the original theater was burnt down. Many locals believed that the company would leave town, but instead the company built a yurt, and the performances haven't stopped. 

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