Banned play’s author crowdfunds for independent staging in Pskov

Banned play's author crowdfunds for independent staging in Pskov
Pskov (Roman Lashkin, Flickr)

29 April 2015
Text Alexey Kovalev

A playwright whose play was banned from being staged in Pskov is seeking funding from the public in order to stage it independently. Varvara Faer’s play Banshik (Bathhouse Attendant) was due to premiere at the Pskov Drama Theatre in mid-April but was banned after a complaint to Russia’s minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky.

An appeal by Faer, who is from Moscow, appeared on crowdfunding website Planeta.ru on April 28 stating: “I was invited to produce a documentary play about the people of Pskov and used local material, but the play turned out to be about the whole of Russia, about gifted people not able to find their place in life because our society rejects free, talented individuals, because the state’s ideology only promotes backstabbing and lick-spitting”.

The play was banned when a letter of complaint signed by some of the actors in the play and some of the theatre’s technical staff was sent to Vladimir Medinsky. The letter accused Faer of “subversive activities in a state-funded theatre”, criticising the play’s nudity and “profanity” and its antagonist, “the dwarf tsar”. After Medinsky visited the theatre accompanied by Andrey Turchak, the governor of Pskov Oblast, the play was pulled from the theatre’s list of productions a few days before it was due to premiere.

The aim of Faer’s crowdfunding campaign is to raise 500,000 roubles ($9700) to fund an independent production of the play, which the Moscow-based Teatr.doc has volunteered to host on their premises in Moscow and then in Pskov. The aim of the project, the statement on Planeta.ru reads, is to “fight our way to our audience through unlawful censorship, freedom from which is enshrined in our Constitution”.