Strike: Two Plays by Yury Klavdiev
Breaking String Theater extends its work in staging the best that contemporary Russian playwriting has to offer with "Strike: Two Plays by Yury Klavdiev." Directed by Graham Schmidt and presented back-to-back, "I am the Machine Gunner" and "Martial Arts" launch audiences into Klavdiev's world, inspired by his upbringing on the mean streets of a Russian industrial slum.
"I am the Machine Gunner" portrays a street tough meditating on the violence in which he's been caught, alternately probing his own experiences and then recalling/becoming his grandfather, who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II's eastern front, The Moonzund Landing Operation, and unpacks the layers of meaning and mythology that overlay the war, and which in this post-Soviet space, feel completely absent. A one-act monologue starring acclaimed Austin actor Joey Hood, "Gunner" walks the line between tenderness and brutality for which Klavdiev has achieved considerable renown throughout Russia.
"Martial Arts" (2009, trans. David White and Yury Urnov) is the story of two young children on the mean streets of a post-Soviet industrial town, which is a shell and a wreck of its former self. But this is no normal story of fleeing circumstances; Klavdiev fits their struggle into Russia's rich tradition of children's fantasies, recasting dragons as drug-dealers and witches as crooked cops. Doing so, he makes accessible these almost-unbearable tales of children's suffering. Another way to think of this story is that it's as if Roald Dahl wrote "Pulp Fiction." Starring Michelle Keffer, Sergio Alvarado, Bob Jones, Kaci Beeler, David Higgins and Molly Karrasch as Boy.
Both productions are knit together by a single outstanding design team, including Ia Enstera, Lee Webster, Pam Friday, Steven Shirey, Blake Miller, and staged managed by Andy Perry.