Another court hearing took place on 2 November. The public prosecutor’s office again applied for an extension of the pre-trial detention without presenting any evidence that the theatre makers were guilty. The court granted the public prosecutor’s request and extended the period of pre-trial detention until 10 January 2024.
In solidarity with those arrested, Berlin-based Russian-language theatre director Oleg Hristolübskiy staged a staged reading of “Finist, heller Falke” with Berlin actresses Katharina Spiering, Suse Wächter and Elisabeth Heckel, which was shown in Berlin on 28 November and 7 December, followed by discussions.
See also ACAR post 1 and 2
Sources: Finist heller Falke, Deutsche Welle (TV Report in Russian)
On 14 December, a Moscow court sentenced Russian playwright and director Ivan Vyrypaev in absentia to eight years in a penal colony. The prosecution had asked for a ten-year sentence. In May, Vyrypaev was put on the wanted list and arrested in absentia. It emerged in court that the case had been opened in October last year.
The playwright was found guilty in the case of disseminating “fakes” about the Russian military motivated by political hatred (Article 207.3, Part 2, Paragraph “d” of the Criminal Code). The court referred to Vyrypaevs public statements and interviews including an open letter to the Russian theatres from March last year where he has informed all Russian state theatres in which his plays have been performed that the money he receives from them will be donated to Ukrainian funds to support refugees.
Sources: Mediazona, Vypyarev.com
Today, the Khamovniki Court of Moscow decided to extend the detention of Yevgenia Berkovich and Svetlana Petriychuk. The investigation petitioned the court to leave both defendants in a pre-trial detention center until September 10, 2023.
Source: Lawyers PRO people
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.
Sources: Meduza, Novaya Gazeta Europe, The Moscow Times,
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.
Event side, YouTube recording
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!”
Sources: The National Herald (February 2nd, 2023), News in France