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History of the theatre

What can be the most important when you decide to form a theatre? You need to have a desire, dedicated people and some financial means. Exactly in this order. At least this is how it happened for the Russian Theatre Foundation of Calgary. Maxim Ivanita had a desire and a play in mind, and the rest is history. One fine October night of 2007 he met with a new immigrant from Russia, theatrical director Valery Paschuk at Starbucks, where they consumed numerous liters of coffee and shaped up a future of the first production. Little problems with casting and places for rehearsals made a few corrections into the original idea, and Maxim and Valery decided to do a low budget production of Oleg Yuriev’s Miriam, which only required 4 actors. The Russian Theatre Foundation of Calgary moved from Starbucks to a more convenient location, started preparation activities, found a few volunteers, and four months later began its first rehearsals.

From day one Maxim and Valery’s main focus was on professionalism of the future production, on forming a sound team on stage and beyond. Parallel with the rehearsal the costumes, set and lighting of the play were being made at full speed. The sound structure was ordered from Russia, and even included music, written specially for the production by a Russian composer Dmitry Spirenkov, who was a friend and a theatre partner of Valery back home.

The cast consisted of Maxim Ivanita, Dmitry Nekhoroshkov, Igor Korovin and Irina Aref’eva (as Miriam) has been established.

Olga Matsula (costume designer), Rashid Imanaliev (set designer) and many other happy volunteers have been involved in making Miriam the play it was dreamed to be. First two performances took place in Calgary with the audience of over 500 people and became extremely successful. The Russian community, including media, raved about the first Russian theatre in Calgary, and obviously wanted more. The Theatre was born.

At the end of first season the beautiful set of Miriam was either destroyed or auctioned, and Russian Theatre’s team decided to make it official, and registered non-profit entity on November 10, 2008, which is now celebrated as a second birth of Russian Theatre Calgary. The first president of the organization was Maxim Ivanita, financials were given to Valentina Lev, and the roles of directors were accepted by Valery Paschuk, Alexander Kolesinkoff and Dmitry Nekhoroshkov.  

After all the bureaucratic formalities were settled, and the Board of Directors got together, they've made a decision to venture a new production – that is Marc Kamoletti’s “Don’t Dress for Dinner”. The idea was to keep an original French title of the play “Pajamas for Six”. The Theatre casted two new actresses: Yelena Chsirova and Iana Best, and invited more volunteers to help with a bigger and broader project: sound director Dave Anderson, art directors Larissa Klimanova and Vanessa Oakly, choreographers Yulia Spivak and Maria Paschuk, and many others. It was decided to use 70-80s French chanson music and a famous Russian song of Mark Freidkin “Big Gray Eyes” for the main dance of the play.

The opening night of Pajamas for Six took place April 10, 2010 in the Wright Theatre of Mount Royal College and was completely sold out. Russian Theatre Foundation of Calgary performed not only in Russian, there was a synchronized translation through head phones for English speaking audience. After the premier night the Theatre became a topic of discussion in mass media as well as among various bloggers. The favorite words of the Theatre’s team were the words from the audience repeated almost on a daily basis: “We were going to see an amateur theatre, and came in to a professional performance, thanks!”  

Then the Russian Theatre Foundation of Calgary and its 'Pajamas' took Edmonton by storm: flowers, ovations and again a full house.

Few months later, on May 8, 2011, the Russian Theatre Calgary did its fourth performance of “Pajamas for Six”, and had over 800 people in the audience overall.

Russian Theatre Foundation of Calgary constantly tries to answer the eternal question, not “To be or not to be?”, more like “Where to get the money?” Actually the answer to the second question very much helps with the answer to the first. The help came from the generous sponsors, without them the Theatre would not survive and stay on its feet. Besides, our Theatre has produced two Comedy Shows with a simple name “Good Evening”, that were a huge success and not only helped financially, but also became two little bridges to unite with the audience between the plays Miriam and Pajamas for Six.

In the spring of 2012 Russian Theatre Foundation of Calgary released the performance on the three-act plays by Anton Chekhov. The actors are: Iana Best, Yelena Chsirova, Ksenia Coulter, Igor Korovin, Dmitry Nekhoroshkov and Sergey Yermolayev. Directors: Valery Paschuk and Dmitry Nekhoroshkov.

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