30 December 2022
For Immediate Release
Artists at Risk (AR) Production Fund launched
at the Maxim Gorki Theatre’s premiere of
THE LAST WORD
A play about dissident female activists in Russian courts
Artists at Risk (AR) is honoured to launch the Artists at Risk (AR) Production Fund at the premiere of THE LAST WORD after an idea by Alisa Khazanova, written by Anna Narinskaya, and directed by Maxim Didenko at Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin.
The creative team behind The Last Word approached Artists at Risk (AR) in appreciation of an organisation that gives artists the right to speak and create. At the premiere of their play, the bilingual publication about the play’s female dissident protagonists will be made available in exchange for a voluntary donation, big or small, to Artists at Risk (AR).
Underlying AR’s vision is the fact that artists need much more than a safe place with a roof over their head. Artists at Risk (AR) relocates artists at high risk from around the world to guarantee their safety at AR-Residences where they can continue their artistic work. They need a rich artistic and social context with ample opportunities. This is why AR is taking this opportunity to launch the
ARTISTS AT RISK (AR) PRODUCTION FUND
A fund to help art at risk come to life
As a form of thanks to the incredibly courageous women whose strong words for political freedom made this play, the creative team also made a choice to forgo any fees, and work together with Artists at Risk (AR) with the goal of coming together to support artists under threat today.
THE LAST WORD
This new play is based on the final statements in Russian courts of women accused of political crimes. It includes the “last words” of Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of “Pussy Riot” (which Artists at Risk worked with from 2013); Alla Gutnikova, the editor of the student magazine “Doxa”, who was sentenced to hard labour for encouraging minors to participate in anti-Putin rallies; Zarifa Sautieva, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for “organising violence” against government officials after the 2018–2019 protests in Ingushetia; and the artist Sasha Skochilenko, who is in custody for an anti-war rally and can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Further excerpts from statements include those by the artist and LGBT activist Yulia Tsvetkova, who was under investigation for more than three years in a criminal case for distributing pornography; the former “Open Russia” activist Anastasia Shevchenko, who received a suspended sentence for collaborating with an “undesirable organisation”; and the case of Yulia Galyamina, who was convicted on strict rules against protest actions.
The play includes poems and excerpts from the memoirs of the human rights activist and poet Natalia Gorbanevskaya, one of the participants in the 1968 demonstration on Red Square protesting the entry of Soviet troops into Czechoslovakia, as well as poems by International Booker Prize nominee and Brücke Berlin winner Maria Stepanova, written during the Russian war in Ukraine.
The Last Word presents the defendants’ closing statements as one of the only occasions in Russia today in which free speech is possible.
The award-winning creative team behind The Last Word are artists and cultural figures from Russia, many of which fled the country after Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine. This non-commercial project aims to support courageous women resisting the Russian regime.
Performed by Alisa Khazanova and Valentin Tszin
Directed by Maxim Didenko
Idea by Alisa Khazanova
Playwright Anna Narinskaya
Music composed by Vladimir Rannev
Set design by Pavel Semchenko and Anis Kronidova (AR-ENSH Helsinki Residents)
The performance will be in English with German subtitles.
With the generous support of FÜR UNSERE UND IHRE RECHTE.
Where: The Maxim Gorki Theatre, Am Festungsgraben 2, 10117 Berlin, Germany
When: Friday, 30 December 2022 at 8:30 pm and Saturday, 31 December 31 at 7:00 pm
Maxim Gorki Theater: https://www.gorki.de/en/the-last-word
Press Contact: [email protected]
Pdf of the publication: The Last Word Booklet.pdf
Alisa Khazanova is an actor, film director and screenwriter, former Bolshoi Theatre ballet soloist, with credits such as the film Tale in the Darkness, Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival.
Valentin Tszin is an actor in the school of non-verbal, physical theatre, and an independent director (theatre and film).
Maxim Didenko is one of the most celebrated directors in Russia, recipient of awards/nominations incl. Golden Mask, National Theatre Award, Golden Sophite, Sergey Kuryokhin Award, and many more.
Anna Narinskaya is a playwright, dramaturg, journalist, documentary filmmaker, exhibition curator, author of a famous series of columns in Novaya Gazeta, winner of, e.g., Bologna Book Fair Prize.
Vladimir Rannev is a composer and lecturer, winner of, e.g., the Grand-Prix of the Sergey Kouryohin Prize and Golden Mask.
Pavel Semchenko is an award-winning artist, actor, performer, director, set-designer, painter, co-founder of the internationally acclaimed engineering theatre AKHE, and winner of, e.g., the Golden Mask award.
Anis Kronidova a set-designer, fashion designer, artist, painter and photographer.