Staging the Stans

A Staged Reading Series

Curated by Olzhas Zhanaydarov and Evgeny Kazachkov

July 1215, 2019


Staging the Stans is a festival of staged readings of plays by Central Asian and Eurasian playwrights curated in collaboration with Kazakh playwright Olzhas Zhanaydarov and Russian playwright Evgeny Kazachkov.


The Stans

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The “Stans” refer to the nation-states (and former Soviet Republics) of Central Asia and certain Muslim-majority autonomous republics within the Russian Federation. For purposes of this festival, the included Stans are: Bashkortostan, Dagestan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Tartarstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.


The Plays


by Talgat Batalov and Yekaterina Bondarenko
Translated by John Freedman
Directed by Sami Ismat
Friday, July 12 at 7:00PM and Saturday, July 13 at 3:00PM

In Talgot Batalov’s Uzbek, the tales of Central Asian immigrants become fodder for a stand-up comedy routine. The ironies, dangers, paradoxes, and absurdities of moving from one culture to another are satirized in this intrepid tribute to human resilience. Uzbek avoids cliches and partisanship, insisting instead that everything cuts two ways.


The Store
by Olzhas Zhanaydarov
Translated by John Freedman
Directed by Jeremy Aluma
Saturday, July 13 at 7:00PM and Sunday, July 14 at 3:00PM

Based on real events, Olzhas Zhanaydarov’s The Store exposes the brutal torment of a Kazakh migrant working in Moscow. Public indifference and a corrupt police force silence young victims lured from their homeland by a Kazakh trafficker. Promises of money, citizenship, and family reunification set the stage for a life of indentured servitude and abuse, a reality rationalized by religious interpretations of master and slave.


The Izmailovo Studio
by Emilia Kazumova and Zarema Zautdinova
Translated by Graham Schmidt
Directed by Adrianne Cury
Sunday, July 14 at 7:00PM and Monday, July 15 at 7:00PM

Fleeing domestic violence, rape, and deception, three women find refuge in a squalid apartment in the Izmailovo district of Moscow. Based on the personal life of playwright Emilia Kazumova and anecdotal stories that she collected, The Izmailovo Studio explores the pursuit of personal dignity against patriarchal torment.


The Curators

Olzhas Zhanaydarov


Olzhas was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 1980. His father was an army officer, and in 1987 his family moved to Moscow. In 2002, he graduated from the Russian Plekhanov's Academy of Economics with honors and went on to work as a manager while writing short poems, literature notes, stories and essays. His work has been published in the Russian magazines Neva and Prolog, and he is the author of the novel The Sun at its Zenith. His plays include Two at a Café, Earplugs, and The Soul of a Pillow. The last of these caused a scandal when Vladimir Aristarkhov, first deputy in the Ministry of Culture, accused it of “promoting homosexual propaganda among minors.” Zhanaydarov's most recent play, The Store (2014) received a Debut Prize for Young Authors nomination and a National Theatre Award Golden Mask for Best Play. It was presented as a staged reading at the Young Drama Festival, Lubimovka, in autumn 2014. His plays have been produced at theaters in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Petropavlovsk and Almaty. He is a member of the Moscow Writers Union and speaks Russian and English.

Evgeny Kazachkov

Evgeny Kazachkov is a playwright, screenwriter, translator, art director and co-organizer of Lubimovka, a festival of young playwrights. Since 2015, he has been a director of the international exchange Lark + Lubimovka, promoting collaboration between US and Russian playwrights. His play Oleg Kulik. Drumming from the series Man.doc was staged in 2010 and Radio Taganka was staged at the Taganka Theater as part of the Theater Year Anniversary Program (2014). His play Fuel was awarded first prize, The Play of This Day, at the Texture-2013 festival (Perm, Russia). His is also author of the performance-promenade Radio Taganka (Theater on Taganka) and co-author of the children's play School of Sleep (Center for Dramaturgy and Directing). Kazachkov teaches dramaturgy and cinema at the Creative Writing School in Moscow.


Meet Olzhas and Evgeny at Silk Road Salon 2019

July 14, 2019 at 1:00PM

How are Muslim artists in Russia and the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia creating art that pushes boundaries without inciting censorship and government reprisals? Come to our annual Salon to meet with Moscow-based playwrights Olzhas Zhanaydarov and Evgeny Kazachkov who will provide insider perspectives on theatre-making in Russia. The conversation will be moderated by Silk Road Rising Co-Founder Jamil Khoury, whose play Mosque Alert was translated into Russian by Olzhas. In June of 2019, Jamil will journey to Russia to see performances of the translation in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The Silk Road Salon reception will include wine, cheese, and dessert.