The Virginia Tech Department of Theatre Arts Graduate Program presents John Freedman, theater critic of The Moscow Times, speaking on Russian Theater and Drama Over the Last Two Decades, on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 105 of the Performing Arts Building. Admission is free.
Freedman has written or edited and translated nine books about Russian drama and theater, including Silence’s Roar: The Life and Drama of Nikolai Erdman and Provoking Theater: Kama Ginkas Directs, co-authored with Ginkas. He has been the theater critic of The Moscow Times since 1992, a monthly columnist for Plays International since 1994, the editor of the Russian Theater Archive series of books for Harwood Academic Publishers from 1992 to 2002, and frequently contributes to The New York Times and other periodicals.
Freedman is a member of the editorial boards of the journals TheatreForum, Plays International and, while it was published, Teatr: Russian Theater Past and Present. He is the Russian director of The New Russian Drama: Translation/Production/Conference, from 2007 to 2010, a project being hosted by Towson University, Baltimore, Md., and Philip Arnoult’s Center for International Theater Development (CITD) from 2007 to 2010.
Active in the theatrical process in Moscow, Freedman served on the advisory board for the Debut Center Theater from 1997 to 1999 and he co-curated three runnings of the Russian Case festival including 2002, 2003, and 2005. He serves unofficially as a jack-of-all-trades in the founding and running of his wife’s theater, the Oksana Mysina Theatrical Brotherhood since 2001. He has been a senior consultant for New Directions – New Voices, Russian/U.S. Theatre Initiative, a program conducted by the Center for International Theater Development since 2000.
His translations of Russian plays have been performed in the United States, Canada, and Australia and have been published in numerous anthologies and journals. He is the co-author, with Viktor Korkiya, of the script for the documentary film Nikolai Erdman: A Shot of Suicide (ORT, Russia, 2004), and was the chief consultant and on-camera host of Unprotected Senses, a documentary film about Kama Ginkas (Pushkin Studio, U.S., 2004). In 1996, with Olga Galakhova, he founded and hosted the short-lived television theater news show Suflyor (Prompter) that was broadcast throughout the CIS on ORT.
In 2006 under the general title of “Provoking Theater,” he made two documentary films for Russia Today, an English-language, international, Russian television company. He was a consultant on Russian drama and theater for the Lark Theater in New York from 1999 to 2004. His views on and expertise in Russian theater have been sought out for features and stories prepared by the BBC, the CBC, Radio Liberty, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsweek and other news organizations.
Born and raised in the Mojave Desert in Southern California, Freedman attended public schools in Apple Valley and Claremont, Calif. After dropping out of Citrus Junior College in Azusa, Calif. in 1974, he played one season of minor league baseball for the Tri-Cities Ports, based in Kennewick, Wash. According to Freedman, a visit to the Trinity Square Repertory Theater in Providence, R.I., in 1980 to attend Jonas Jurasas’ production of Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide sparked his long-term interest in this seminal Soviet playwright.
After receiving a bachelor of arts in Russian language and literature from the University of California at Irvine in 1980, Freedman wrote dissertations on Erdman at George Washington University where he received a master of arts degree in 1983. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1990. While in Moscow researching his Ph.D. dissertation, Freedman met the Russian actress Oksana Mysina, to whom he was married in 1989. The couple lived in the Moscow suburb of Lyubertsy until 1998 when they moved to Moscow.