Amanda’s Russia

For years now, my dear friend Amanda has spoken to me about her many trips – some solo for research, some with Davidson students – to Russia. The challenges and joys of traveling to a place she knows well, loves and with which she is intellectually engaged make for wonderful stories. Traveling with this group of colleagues for two weeks allowed me the opportunity to take a step inside my dear friend’s world…. Read More

Doing SPB, Bourdain style

Today, Amanda and I decided to experience St. Petersburg Anthony Bourdain-style and headed to a local market. Food – what we eat, where we buy and eat it, how we prepare it, who we share it with and when — offers an intimate view of what sustains us as individual human beings, and as distinct cultures. I was bound to learn something new, and enjoy it in the process! We started with… Read More

Palace to the people

Yesterday our St. Petersburg guide told us many stories about Russian history and politics as we toured the city and the Hermitage. Unlike our guide in Moscow who ended such stories with the rhetoric flourish, “so that is a story, so who knows,” she let them stand. Like facts. Yet numerous times throughout the day several of us would look at one another with a knowing glance (“knowing glance” here stands in… Read More

For real?!

Did you read that first sentence in my last post?!? It began with the phrase, “as we were leaving the Moscow Art Theatre.” Leaving the Moscow Art Theatre?! That means we were inside the Moscow Art Theatre!!! Ok, Ok, I know that may not mean much to those unfamiliar with the theatre’s history (and this post won’t offer that), but I am hoping perhaps some students may read this and fully understand… Read More

My obsession with Bulgakov

Yesterday as we left the Moscow Art Theatre, Shelley asked if our view of the importance of art (dance, literature, theatre) in Russian culture was skewed by the constituency of our group. After all, our schedule included several theatre productions, a ballet, visit to a theatre and several literary sites. Her question coincidentally summarized why I have always been drawn to Russian theatre – it seems that national identity, belonging and struggles… Read More

Art and Memory

Sometime in the 1990’s a New York museum (I want to say MOMA, but I might have that wrong) had a special exhibit of impressionist art with paintings borrowed from the Pushkin and Hermitage museums. That exhibit happened to coincide with my own discovery and love of impressionist art and I attended, as did my mom and my sister. For many, many years, a print from that exhibit hung in my sister’s… Read More

The Metro

Thinking about our upcoming trip to Moscow there was lots to be nervous and excited about. Riding the subway wasn’t in either category, and yet as we have ended up doing it multiple times a day it has been a big part of our experience of the city. Because I am from New York, and have (with a bit of practice and study) ridden subways in other North American and European cities… Read More

Theatre talk

Wow, wow, wow! As Mark, Alison and I walked towards a café for dinner, Mark literally took the words right out of my mouth when he said, “I can’t believe that just happened.” The “that” was an invigorating two-hour conversation we just had with a group of playwrights, directors and art administrators at a Moscow café. Yes, a café in Moscow. I needed to write it twice to make myself believe it…. Read More

Journeys like these

A few days before we left for our trip, my seven year-old son asked me to tell him one of my secrets. I thought for a long time before I went to my closet and took out a torn box filled with a mess of photos I inherited after my mom passed away. The secret I shared was that I had lost a cassette tape (remember those?!) which I had recorded almost… Read More