A Moscow court has ruled on Friday, May 5th, that both artists must remain in custody until at least 4 July. Both are accused of “justifying terrorism” in their play “Finist, the Brave Falcon”, an ironic play about Russian women recruited by the Islamic State that Berkovich’s independent theater company, SOSO Daughters, produced. “Finist” premiered in 2020 and was awarded Best Text at the most important Russian theatre festival Golden Mask 2022. Authorities also detained the company’s director, Alexander Andriyevich. The court thus complied with a request by investigators, as the state agency Tass reported. Authorities raided the homes of Berkovich’s mother Jelena Efross and her 88-year-old grandmother, the writer Nina Katerli in St. Petersburg the same day.
The 38-year-old Berkovich is one of the few outstanding theatre directors of her generation who did not go into exile after 24 February 2022 and, despite everything, tried to continue making contemporary theatre in the warring homeland. She studied directing under Kirill Serebrennikov at the Moscow Art Theater School and writes poetry. Berkovich is also known as a translator and librettist.
The author of “Finist, the Brave Falcon”, Svetlana Petriychuk, studied international journalism and filmmaking in Los Angeles and theater in Moscow under the renowned directors Kama Ginkas and Mikhail Ugarov. Her socially critical plays regularly appear on the shortlists of drama contests and festivals and on the playbills of leading theatres in Russia.
The charge is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Novaya Gazeta published a petition (Google Docs, Russian) supporting the two women and calling for their immediate release. The petition has already more than 12,000 signatures.
As part of the Festival Week of Slovenian Drama, ITI Slovenia organised a public panel discussion to present the work of Belarusian theatre artists working in exile or in the opposition underground. The systematic repression of democratic processes in Belarus has weakened and destroyed the working conditions for many artists and intellectuals who have left the country to build new lives in the hope of one day returning home. With this event, ITI Slovenia wants to open a space for theatre colleagues whose work keeps their culture and language alive, even though they are no longer at home, and to support their future efforts.The event was hybrid, in person and via Zoom. The discussion was recorded and is accessible online via YouTube.
Since 2003, high school education for artists has been abolished in Greece. In mid-December 2022, Presidential Decree 85 was announced, signed by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou. It stipulates that all graduates of theater colleges, dance schools and film schools are considered employees who have completed secondary education only. Thus, theater artists in Greece do not have access to master’s degrees in their disciplines. Foreign master’s or doctoral degrees are no longer recognized. They only have access to the lowest level of unemployment benefits and salaries are no longer determined by collective agreements but by ministerial decisions.
For more than 40 days, the drama schools of the National Theater, the National Theater of Northern Greece and the Municipal Theater of Patras have been occupied by their students. Theaters in several major cities of the country meanwhile went on strike, thousands demonstrated in the streets of Athens under the slogan: “The attack on art is an attack on freedom”.
ITI Germany has signed a solidarity address to Greek theatre artists, initiated by the Berlin based GRIPS theatre: “We hereby support the demands of the actors, directors, teachers of performing arts in Greece who have been protesting for over 40 days against the Dec. 17, 22, Presidential Decree 85. Presidential Decree 85 in Greece and have occupied theaters and universities in Greece: -The removal of the current classification of performing artists from Presidential Decree 85. -The establishment of a public university for performing arts free of charge for all students -A final solution to the problem of the status of the diplomas issued from 2003 to this establishment -Tariff agreements for the private theater and audiovisual sectors, as well as for Greece’s regional municipal theaters -A generous increase in public funding for the theater For the human right to art and theater in Greece!”
The European Commission has published a special call under the Creative Europe programme for Ukrainian artists worth € 5 million. The call supports artists outside their country, cultural organisations in Ukraine, and preparation for the post-war recovery of the Ukrainian cultural and creative sector. Three projects will be selected, each with support up to 2 million € for short term, one up to 1 Million € for mid term project goals for financing by consortia set up within countries associated to the Creative Europe programme. Ukrainian organisations will also contribute, giving grants to small-size initiatives implemented at grass root level. The call is open until 29 November 2022.
Alexandra (Shasha) Skochilenko, is a russian artist and musician. She replaced price tags at supermarkets in St Petersburg with news reports about bombings in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. On April 11 she had been detained and accused of carrying out serious actions against public safety and spreading fake news about the Russian military. Her case had been reclassified from a criminal case to a more severe one of the same article, entailing from 5 to 10 years in prison. The investigation has extended Sasha’s pre-trial detention several times, now until July 1st.
The telegram group for support is: https://t.me/skochilenko_sud.