Next year, the Royal Shakespeare Company will launch a series of 4 specially-commissioned plays about Russia and other former Soviet Bloc nations in an attempt to attract some ruble-rich billionaire investment. RSC Artistic Director, Michael Boyd, told The Independent that he wants Russian money to flow into theatre in the way that it has helped the visual arts to prosper. The first two Russian plays, to be staged in September 2009, are The Drunks by Mikhail and Vyacheslav Durnenkov, about a soldier returning from Chechnya as a reluctant hero, and The Grain Store by Natalia Vorozhbit, in a tale of 1930s famine in Ukraine. Further ahead, there will be new stagings of Pushkin's Boris Godunov and other less frequently seen classics by Gogol and Chekhov. Other Russia will conclude with an as-yet-unannounced transfer of a major Russian-originated production of a Shakespeare play.
Mr Boyd said he was inspired to launch the theatre project, which has been 3 years in the planning and which includes a play staged under his direction. "We launch ‘Other Russia’ – an exploration of Russia and the former Soviet Union countries, drawing on the great Russian theatrical tradition with some of Eastern Europe's most inspirational new writers. I am looking forward to directing The Grain Store on the main stage at The Courtyard Theatre…It's a big moment in Russian history as it tries to engage with capitalism and the West. It is the major supplier of energy for the rest of Europe. It's an interesting time to see whether there will be a new clampdown, a new Cold War, or whether freedom will again be curtailed.”