Pussy Riot wants YOU to become a Russian prisoner in a new theatre performance

Image: PUSSY RIOT/Jonas Akerlund

You may remember that famous scene in House of Cards where Pussy Riot humiliate the fictional Russian President Viktor Petrov, a caricature of Vladimir Putin. That cameo was just the latest stepping stone in Pussy Riot’s rise to global notoriety as female icons of resistance.

But in real life, the Russian feminist punk rock group have paid a heavy price for their dissident voice. Two members of the group spent two years in prison and they are now planning an immersive theatre performance in London, which promises to instil everyone with the sense of fear and isolation that they felt after their protest.

is it worth is? let me work it

A post shared by Nadya (@nadyariot) on

“In today’s Russia, you can say basically say a couple of words for 40 seconds and end up in jail for two years,” Pussy Riots NadyaTolokonnikova said.

On Aug. 17, 2012, Pussy Riot stepped inside Moscows Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, performed a snippet of a song called “Punk Prayer” a direct attack on the Russian Orthodox Church’s unequivocal support for Vladimir Putin and were speedily convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

They were sentenced to two years of imprisonment, where they were faced with solitary confinement and “endless humiliation,” including regular forced gynaecological examinations. Tolokonnikova and fellow Pussy Riot memberMaria Alekhina were released three months early as part of an amnesty law passed prior to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

NadyaTolokonnikova

Image: PUSSY RIOT

Pussy Riot’s immersive performance is called Inside Pussy Riot and the aim is to hold a six-week residency of the show in London, starting in November.

But there’s a catch you won’t be sitting comfortably in your chair with a glass of wine. The fourth wall between actors and audience will be broken and you will be taken through an immersive experience of arrest, sentencing, imprisonment and, eventually, a very real and chilling sense of fear.

A Kickstarter campaign, launched to help the performance come to life, has received substantial support, raising 55,658 from pledged 60,000 ($77,830) goal with 8 days to go in the time of writing this article.

Setting the stage

I knew that I wanted to make it happen since 2014 when we got out of jail,” Tolokonnikova said. “But an immersive theatre of this kind, replicating prison life, it’s a big production. My friends connected me to the theatre scene in London and they introduced me to this theatre company, Les Enfants Terribles.”

The theatre company has gained recognition in recent years, most notably for its Olivier-nominated production of Alice’s Adventures Underground which, itself, sought to break that wall between watcher and doer.

Tolokonnikova says Inside Pussy Riot is loosely based on their trial and incarceration in Russia, but it’s not biographical. “It’s not interesting to always talk about ourselves. The story is broader, because any ordinary person that stands up to Putin’s regime can find themselves in a similar situation.”

Coming to the performance makes you an active participant.

“They read you your sentence. Youre moved to a penal colony where you have to work. We want to remind people that there are those who are working there right now, right this second in slave-like conditions. Nobody was convicted to lose their dignity. That’s different from losing your freedom.”

There’s also a priest who word vomits a monologue about abortions and how women exist, like farm animals, to improve the demography and produce kids.

Does this demagoguery sound familiar? It’s the underlying plot of the Handmaid’s Tale, the hit series depicting life inside a U.S. faced with infertility, militant patriarchy, and religious extremism.

But Tolokonnikova warns preemptively that the performance is not a spectacle of a dystopian future it’s the life that actual people are living right now. “It’s not just a show.”

“Spoiler: youll be released.”

In preparation for Inside Pussy Riot, Tolokonnikova drew inspiration from Russian artists from the 1970s through the 1990s, whose work focused on showing the everyday life in the USSR. Ilya Kabakov is one example, with his famous Berlin installation of a kommunalka (the utopian projects from the 1920s for collective living) bathroom.

“It was amazing, because no one in Berlin had ever seen anything like that shared bathroom,” Tolokonnikova said. With the rise of immersive theatre about two decades ago, Tolokonnikova saw an chance to combine this focus on the Russian experience with a chance to involve and teach people. And get them to feel fear, a little.

“Spoiler: youll be released,” Tolokonnikova joked. “You will not have to spend 2 years in jail.”

(Like she did.)

Discipline and Punish

Tolokonnikova hopes the experience will be particularly shocking for a UK audience.

“A lot of them they have just never experienced, thankfully, what it means to live in a country where freedom of speech is so limited. But, you can lose your freedom if you don’t fight for it. Ive seen it with Brexit, with Trump, the rise of hate crime and racism, we see how ugly it gets when senior White House officials talk to reports about sucking cocks.”

Tolokonnikova says history is not linear. Nor is progress. And you can easily slide back into darker times. Gradually but firmly (another Handmaid’s Tale lesson). And that, Tolokonnikova said, is the main takeaway from Inside Pussy Riot as well.

For now, the performance would be limited to a stage in London. In the future the plan is to expand and, eventually, one day, bring it back home to Russian soil. That, unsurprisingly, is very difficult. Aside from the personal risks any outspoken Putin critics face, it’s people who are in any way connected to them that become targets.

“That’s why Pussy Riot has to be a guerrilla gig. Its impossible to rent a space, an office. So the prosecutors office calls the owners building and they say, Do you really want to have troubles, do you really want a criminal case opened against you right now? If you dont want that, dont work with Pussy Riot,'” Tolokonnikova said.

So, for now, the theatre performance remains an act of dissidence in a city which has become an unofficial capital of Russian dissidents.

The Puppet(eer)

As the Trump administration dangles along, and with it the ever-deepening Russia scandal, what many Russian journalists have noticed is a a parallel process paranoia by media and officials in U.S.

According to Alexey Kovalev, a journalist and expert debunker of Russian state propaganda, the seemingly growing image of Putin as evil genius and strategic mastermind is dangerous and false. With the unexplainable love for Putin shown by President Trump, and the immediate toxic reaction by major media outlets online, we’ve come to anticipate the underlying dominance of the often-shirtless judo-wrestling former KGB spy Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

That is just for show, Tolokonnikova said.

“I’m really irritated every time Putin is portrayed as some almighty hero that’s exactly how he wants to be portrayed.”

“Im really irritated every time Putin is portrayed as some almighty hero thats exactly how he wants to be portrayed. If you, as Western media, want to help people in Russia, then you need to break that image of the strong macho men. That he is not. His team are incredibly ineffective and corrupt. Hes not a global puppet master.”

Perhaps that sounds hyperbolical, but it’s a useful counterpoint to the image of Russia as well cogged machine manned by Putin an image long held about the Soviet Union, too, for that matter. Until it collapsed. In any case, it’s the human stories inside these regimes that work to hollow them out from the inside out and delegitimize them.

And, for Pussy Riot, their immersive theatre performance is just one small step in speaking truth to power.

More From this publisher : HERE

    Recommended Products

  • eCom Rocket eCom Rocket will let you Enter and DOMINATE eCommerce for ANY Niche with REAL-TIME Data from Facebook, Google Trends and AliExpress via API's. (Never Been Done Before)
  • Social Zen Platinum Unlimited Accounts - Lifetime Access The Ultimate 100% Hands-free, Fully Automated Social Web App!
  • ZooWarrior Help user increase conversions, and reduce refunds. Keep Great reputation with Paypal.
  • Commission Resurrection How A British Guy Found The Simple Secret To Driving Massive Traffic Online Which Can Make Anyone $1,416.07 Per Day Automatically!

Tags: activism culture immersive-theater kickstarter london politics prison-reform pussy-riot putin russia

Related Post "Pussy Riot wants YOU to become a Russian prisoner in a new theatre performance"

People are getting worked up over a satirical ‘Sh*t Towns of New Zealand’ Facebook page\n
Lovely Rotorua.Image: Getty Images/EyeEmEveryone loves to hear
Trump doles out praise as Puerto Ricans despair
San Juan, Puerto Rico (CNN)Nearly two weeks