The Forum for Cultural Engagement has announced Flash Acts, a free six-day, bilingual, virtual theater festival October 8 to 13, 2020. This one-of-a-kind performance festival brings together 20 brilliant playwrights from the U.S. and Russia, all creating ten-minute plays that explore the timely and resonant theme of isolation in ways that span the geopolitical, psychological, spiritual, and intimately personal.
The 40 virtual productions will offer audiences a feast of theatrical innovation—bold, tender, funny, and moving. Most of all, in a time where so much feels broken and fractured in the world, and when Russians’ and Americans’ knowledge of one another is often filtered through the distorting lens of politics, Flash Acts models a celebratory, inclusive way of coming together across polarizing difference to build new relationships and understandings, and to foster community, solidarity, friendship, and hope.
Flash Acts features a remarkable roster of leading playwrights, directors, and performers from Russia and the U.S. including Lab Think Tank/Associate Artists and Campus Cohort members Christine Evans, Natsu Onoda Power, Heather Raffo, Maya Roth, and many other members of The Lab’s global family.
The Festival will open on Thursday, October 8, at 12:30 PM EDT. The online festival schedule and more details about the event can be found at flashactsfestival.org. All performances and events are free.
Flash Acts will premiere two productions—one in English and one in Russian—of four new plays daily. These energizing new plays will be performed by different creative teams featuring actors in an enhanced format combining the best of theatre, film, and television.
On Friday, October 9 at 12:30 PM EDT, a panel featuring current U.S. Ambassador John J. Sullivan, as well as two former U.S. Ambassadors to Russia, Jon Huntsman, Jr. and John F. Tefft, will focus on the importance of cultural diplomacy and the emergence of increased digital diplomacy.
“Flash Acts reflects the experiences of Russian and American playwrights living a world apart during this unprecedented time,” said Mary McBride, Founder and Executive Director of The Forum for Cultural Engagement. “Today, more than 150 American and Russian artists prove that art has the power to deepen understanding and bring communities together.”
“Arena Stage is proud to be part of this international collaboration. Commissioning diverse playwrights to write from the theme of isolation and then sharing those stories internationally through zoom productions is transformative. Isolation becomes collaboration, quarantine becomes company, and boundaries disappear,” said Molly Smith, Artistic Director of Arena Stage.
“In a time where so much feels broken and fractured in the world, Flash Acts models an inclusive way of building new relationships and understandings, and to foster community, friendship, and hope,” said Derek Goldman, Co-Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University.
Flash Acts is sponsored by the United States Embasy in Moscow and produced in partnership with GU’s Theater and Performance Studies program, Arena Stage, the Forum for Cultural Engagement, the Lubimovka Young Playwrights Festival, and the Center for Modern Drama in Yekaterinburg.
“The United States Embassy in Moscow offers a standing ovation for the artists and producers of the Flash Acts Festival,” said Ambassador John J. Sullivan, United States Ambassador to Russia. “This innovative cultural exchange holds the promise of reaching countless audiences around the globe, shining a spotlight on the power of collaboration during a period too often marked by isolation and division.”
The Forum for Cultural Engagement (FCE) is a leading cultural diplomacy organization, which produces multi-faceted, interdisciplinary programming around the globe. Founded by singer-songwriter Mary McBride, FCE collaborates with embassies, corporations, academic institutions, cultural organizations, NGOs and artists to forge deeper understanding, ease conflict and lessen human isolation. In collaboration with multi-national diplomatic teams and a broad network of partner organizations across four continents, FCE has created bold and uniquely innovative programming since its inception in 2014, including such programs as The Home Tour, Shelter Sounds, Shop Talks, Flash Acts, and Frame Work. FCE’s ongoing, dynamic cultural programming brings together today’s most compelling artists and thinkers with social and cultural organizations to forge human connection and advance positive social change. www.fcengage.org
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacting the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its eighth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000. Arena Stage’s pioneering spirit is evident in several significant achievements: it was one of the first American theaters to convert to not-for-profit status; it was the first regional theater to have a production taken to Broadway; it was the first theater outside New York to win a Tony Award in 1976; and, in 1973, Arena Stage was the first American theater to tour the Soviet Union. www.arenastage.org
The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, co-founded by Derek Goldman and Ambassador Cynthia Schneider, harnesses the power of performance to humanize global politics. Since 2012, The Lab has created and presented innovative work from around the world that is at the intersection of politics and performance. Among the Lab’s many initiatives and projects are CrossCurrents, a biennial festival that in 2019 brought together hundreds of artists from more than forty countries, a Global Fellows Program, and numerous original productions and convenings. The Lab’s distinctive approach engages artists, policymakers, and wider audiences in forums that cast critical issues in new light. As the only signature joint initiative between the School of Foreign Service and Georgetown College, The Lab is passionate about helping to train the next generation of innovators to use their artistry and voices to shape new understandings and to humanize others in pursuit of a better, more just world. www.GlobalLab.Georgetown.edu
The Center for Modern Drama (CMD), based in Yekaterinburg, was founded in 2009 by playwright and teacher Nikolay Kolyada. The Center has been heralded for its commitment to experimentation in theater and for encouraging a censorship-free environment for artists in all stages of their careers to develop their craft. CMD is an ongoing repertory theater, presenting new works in coordination with writing and acting schools in the Ural region of Russia and Northwestern Kazakhstan. www.uralcsd.ru
The Lubimovka Young Russian Playwrights Festival is a nonprofit festival dedicated to discovering challenging new work by emerging and established playwrights from Russia and former Soviet republics. Widely regarded as one of the leading playwriting events in the Russian speaking world, the eight-day festival, held annually in Moscow in early September, features staged readings, master classes and workshops. Since 2014 Lubimovka has participated in an annual translation exchange program with the Lark Theater lab in New York City. www.lubimovka.ru
View the full schedule of virtual productions, panels/forums, and nightly music lounge events and attend the free online festival through the Flash Acts website here.