Irina Khutsieva with actors from the Chamber Theater

This term, Russian theatre director and acting pedagogue Irina Khutsieva is Artist in Residence at the Residential College (RC).  Khutsieva, whose visit has been co-sponsored by the RC, the Slavic Department, the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREEES), and the Center for World Performance Studies, is staging two plays with U-M students, giving talks and workshops, and consulting with U-M instructors on the use of dramatic techniques in the language classroom.

Khutsieva has thirty years of experience in the Russian theatre, and has also worked in Germany and the United States. Her successful Chamber Theatre (Moscow, founded 2003) has presented a series of very well-received productions and has propelled a significant number of young actors to professional prominence. The Chamber Theatre has performed to critical acclaim at festivals in Germany, Poland, Holland, Finland, Austria, and Switzerland. Khutsieva has worked at one of Russia’s most distinguished theatrical academies, the Schepkin Theatrical Institute, and has an even higher qualification as a director of GITIS, the Russian Academy of Theatrical Art.

This semester, she is working with U-M students on two productions relating to Russian folk themes: a production in Russian based on motifs from traditional folk tales and a production in English based on motifs from the contemporary literary tales of the Petrozavodsk author Vasilii Firsov.

Twenty-two students are participating in Khutsieva’s productions, twelve of them from the RC program, many of them Russian majors or minors, with a wide range of disciplines represented, including international studies, economics, public policy, and theatre, as well as Russian. All students have chosen to participate in both productions – with the Russianists not only working on their language skills in the Russian-language production, but also benefiting from the confidence-giving experience of acting in English, while the non-Russianists are learning some Russian from their roles in the Russophone production.

Khutsieva, in addition to working on her two productions, gave a lecture on the contemporary Russian theatre for CREES in October and two workshops on drama techniques in the language classroom. She is also a regular participant in the RC program’s daily Russian Tables and weekly Russian Teas, has given guest lectures in Slavic Department courses, and has made visits to Russian-language classes.

Khutsieva’s visit is expected to leave a lasting legacy among students of Russian and all members of the University community interested in the theatre in Russia, while providing U-M faculty, and Graduate Student Instructors the opportunity to expand their teaching skills through contact with a professional theatre pedagogue.