CENTRAL ASIAN YOUNG DIRECTORS LABORATORY

Supported by

Swiss Cooperation Office in Uzbekistan

Central Asian Young Directors Laboratory is aimed at identifying, improving the level and practical assistance in implementing creative projects of young directors starting their career.
The implementation of this project helps to preserve what has been accumulating for decades in the practice of professional theater, and, in particular, the continuity of generations, especially in such a unique profession as a director. The only highly qualified theater university in our region, the Tashkent Theater Institute, has trained more than one generation of professional directors who subsequently worked at the main theater venues in Central Asia.
Currently, there is not a single institute that would serve as a regional center for the training of theater directors. Meanwhile, the director as a creative person is formed by joint comparative searches and a rich environment, exchange of information, overcoming a confined space. Since 2004, 20 participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have been trained at the Laboratory.
Currently, many participants of the Laboratory successfully continue their activities as professionals, and have achieved high creative results. Galina Pyanova (Art & Shock Theater, Kazakhstan, Almaty) is the principal director and producer of her theater performances, as well as a participant of many international festivals. Kamat Kasenov (Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek) works as a director in the Kyrgyz Youth Theater. Talantbek Apyev (Kyrgyzstan, Osh) works as the principal director in the Kyrgyz Drama Theater. One of his last new productions is the play “Kurmanjan Datka” (author of the play is Sultan Raev). Anton Pakhomov (Uzbekistan, Tashkent) released his first directorial work at the Mark Wail’s Ilkhom Theater – the play “Clay Letters, Floating Apples”, based on the novel by S. Aflatuni. All of them stay in close professional contact with each other and with the Ilkhom Theater.
The Central Asian Young Directors Laboratory has become an ongoing project, with a periodically updated composition of participants, with the organization of face-to-face seminar sessions. The laboratory sets itself a task aimed at creating a rich environment, sharing information, overcoming confined spaces and joint comparative searches by young directors.
The training sessions facilitated to identify capable young directors and help them push the boundaries of the profession, provide them with the opportunity to open up and show their creative potential. The project is carried out within the walls of the Mark Wail’s Ilkhom Theater and its school of dramatic art. The unique experience of one of the most interesting theaters in the region, its level and international reputation, made the Laboratory’s program interesting and rich, constantly operating, attracting prominent theatrical figures of Uzbekistan and abroad as specialists.
1, 2, 3 and 4 stages of the Laboratory
In 2005, the Culture and Art Program of the Swiss Office for Development and Cooperation in Central Asia and the Tashkent Ilkhom Theater launched a project: “Laboratory for young directors of Central Asia and Kazakhstan.”
The laboratory is aimed at identifying new names, consolidating a new generation in the region, creating conditions for increasing their professional growth and providing practical assistance in implementing creative projects of young directors who are starting their career.
The implementation of this project helps to preserve what has been accumulating for decades in the practice of professional theater in the territories of the former USSR, and, in particular, to restore continuity in the professional experience of educating new generations of directors. The region’s only highly qualified theater institute in the past, the Tashkent Theater Institute, brought up more than one generation of professional directors who subsequently worked at the main theater venues in Central Asia, Russia, Kazakhstan, and not only.
Currently, there is not a single institute in Central Asia that has the level of competence and functions as an international director training center. Meanwhile, the personality of the director, a creative person with a broad outlook on life and profession, is formed by a joint comparative search and rich environment in which there is an intensive exchange of information, overcoming a confined space, and not the isolation that occurred after the formation of borders across the traditionally unified territories of the USSR and, in particular, in the Central Asian region. The laboratory aims at creating just such an environment that will help identify capable young people, help them push the boundaries of the profession, and provide with the opportunity to show their creative potential.
The laboratory is held within the walls of the Ilkhom Theater and its School of Dramatic Art, led by the artistic director of the theater and the school, Mark Wail. The unique experience of this, one of the most famous theaters in the region, that celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006, its level and international reputation, ensure that Laboratory program is interesting and professionally efficient, and constantly operative against the plans.
The project began in 2005 in several stages:
The preparatory phase took place in November 2004 through March 2005. During this stage a plan for the organization and program of the Laboratory was designed, information was sent out, potential participants were surveyed through questionnaire, and field interviews were organized.
Each of the participating countries of Central Asia and Kazakhstan had two grants (two places) in the Laboratory and one commercial place (i.e. paid either by the participant himself or by the party representing him).
As a result, 59 applications were received. Of them:
• Kazakhstan – 9 applications, 2 participants were selected.
• Kyrgyzstan – 18 applications, 2 participants were selected for a grant, 2 – to be trained on commercial bases.
• Tajikistan – 5 applications, 2 participants were selected.
• Turkmenistan – 3 applications, 2 participants were selected.
• Uzbekistan – 16 applications, 6 participants were selected, 2 participants were selected for a special project.
• Mongolia – 6 applications, 2 participants were selected to be trained on commercial bases.
As a result, 20 participants began training in the Laboratory.
The first stage (full-time):
The first session and practical training took place in April 2005, for one month in the venue of Ilkhom Theater and its School of Dramatic Art. At the first stage, a strategy for implementing a personal creative project was developed with each of the participants in the Laboratory.
The program included:
• Master class with Yuri Avsharov “Exercises according to the methodology of Mikhail Chekhov”
• Master class by Mark Wail “Method of analysis and interpretation of dramaturgy” (on the example of “Hamlet” by Shakespeare and “The story at the Zoo” by E. Olby)
• Practical exercises on creating the theater atmosphere – an environment, on the development of a non-standard theater space for organizing a performance.
• Master-class of V. Yuriev and Sh. Abdumalikov “Director’s work with set design in a modern theater”.
• Master class by Artyom Kim “Director’s work with music in the theater”.
• Workshop by Yu. Alexandrov, K. Artykov “Theme and techniques of theater in modern cinema. Mutual influence and opposition of related arts”.
• Seminar on the use of video installations and technical equipment in a modern theater.
Examination was held after the first stage of training. Participants who demonstrated the most convincing results in practical work and in the master classes of the laboratory were transferred to the second stage.
The second stage (August – September 2005): correspondence, telephone consultations with the participants of the Laboratory related to the preparation of specific projects for the next stage.
The third stage: the second (in-person) session and practical laboratory classes were held in October-November 2005.
At this stage, the directorial plans of each Laboratory participant were developed and analyzed.
They were connected with young scene designers and, under the supervision of educators, sketches and layouts were prepared for each project.
Students of the Ilkhom school and theater actors were at their disposal for practical work on an excerpt or composition of the text chosen by the creative project laboratory participant.
The designed fragments of future projects were presented during the two days to viewers and professionals at open shows and were followed by a demonstration of sketches and an oral commentary by the director about the intention and the excerpt presented.
During the autumn session, master classes were also held:
• Alexei Levinsky “Meyerhold’s Biomechanics”
• Elena Levinsky “New Drama. Names and trends of modern direction”
In March 2006, the fourth (third in-person) stage of the project “Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia and Kazakhstan” was carried out jointly by the Swiss Office for Development and Cooperation and the Ilkhom Theater.
7 young directors took part in it: Talantbek Apyev, Kamat Kasenov from Kyrgyzstan, Zahid Ashurov from Tajikistan, Yunus Kurbanov, Zinaida Melkonyan, Anton Pakhomov from Uzbekistan and Galina Pyanova from Kazakhstan.
The main theme of the Laboratory’s fourth stage was “Director’s art: composing a work for the theater without a play”. Laboratory participants discussed and practically comprehended experience with:
• imagination;
• document;
• folklore;
• iconography;
• poetry.
The practical work in the first week of the laboratory was to complete the assignment with the actors on the embodiment of installation – improvisation within a series of paintings and drawings by the artist Guli Gromova “About love …”. On March 8, 2006, at the Tashkent Ilkhom Theater, participants of the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia and Kazakhstan showed the viewers the embodiment of this assignment.
In a weekly period – from March 1 to March 8, the Laboratory participants mastered the iconographic material they were proposed to and found, together with the actors, specially attracted for this project, their solutions to the artistic episode – reviving the painting. Almost in a short – 2-5 minute scene, each director, with the participation of 1 or 2 artists, had to show a whole life story of the characters of one of the canvases presented at the opening day.
With sufficient complexity of the task, each of the participants of the Laboratory successfully coped with the task. This work in its own way unleashed the power of young directors, as professionals, who were able to verify in practice how to work without a literary text, make a non-standard stage decision and find a plot and means for expressing it in a concise stage form.
Throughout the entire period of 4 semesters (March 1 to 16), Laboratory participants attended rehearsals of the project “Flights of Mashrab”, an unprecedented one in the history of theaters of Central Asia – creating a performance without a play based on the synthesis of folklore, poetry, classical music by Mozart performed by folk oriental instruments, as well as involving documents, photos and videos.
For the first time, the Laboratory participants came across with such a method as theatrical reconstruction and interpretation of the event based on minimal information, with the methodology of involving the bands in the creation of improvisations and the embodiment of fantasies on the myths and poetry of Mashrab, leading, in the end, to the creation of a holistic stage text and performance.
The seminars and lectures of Mark Wail, held at the end of each rehearsal, practical examination of proposals and questions of laboratory participants during their course, a lively exchange of views allowed young directors to practically test the opportunities of the profession of director in the absence of a traditional play, which was the topic of the 4th semester of the laboratory. The unique experience that its participants have come across with, no doubt, allowed them to improve their skills and expand knowledge in their chosen profession.
The 4th semester of the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia and Kazakhstan can be considered successful and productive for all selected laboratory participants.
5 stage of the Laboratory
(April 9 – May 12, 2007)
The International Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia and Kazakhstan continued its work with the support of the Fund named after Ebert (Germany) and the “Campaign” prize presented to the Laboratory by the Council on Culture under the President of Russian Federation.
From April 23 to 27, 2007, in the premises of Ilkhom Theater, a master class was held by Anna Brusser, an associate professor of the Moscow Higher Theater School named after B.V. Shukin and by Dmitry Koshmin a teacher at the Moscow Art Theater School named after Chekhov namely: “Training in the teaching methodology of the discipline “Scenic Speech”.
The master class was held for the students of the School of Dramatic Art and actors of the Ilkhom Theater, teachers of the theater institute, radio and television announcers, and participants of the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia and Kazakhstan.
The experience and modern techniques introduced by highly qualified specialists have helped the professional growth of all interested parties, and guided newly starting teachers in mastering pedagogical skills.
The creative process of the 5th session of the Laboratory focused on working with the text of high classics that belongs to the history of culture and world theater – Aeschylus’s trilogy “Oresteia”. During the laboratory classes, the participants have done the following:
• conducted a comparative analysis of 4 text translations into Russian;
• analyzed the laws of composition and work on large format, classic literary texts;
• conducted seminars on modern sound of the classic text and ways of its implementation;
• traditionally took part in master classes of speech and plastic specialists related to direct work on Aeschylus’s Oresteia;
• in parallel to above, laboratory participants had an opportunity to practically work with actors on the implementation of the intention. For this, the text of the trilogy was divided into fragments, and the Laboratory participants became responsible for working on the episodes assigned to them.

6 and 7 stages of the Laboratory
The sixth and seventh sessions of the Laboratory were led by director Ovlyakuli Khojakuli. The unique experience of one of the most interesting directors in the region, its level and international reputation make the Laboratory program interesting and rich.
From August 17 to September 25, 2009 (5 weeks), the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, organized by the Mark Wail’s Ilkhom Theater and the Swiss Office for Cooperation in Uzbekistan, continued its work. During the sixth and seventh sessions, the project organizers decided to attract completely new participants to the work of the Laboratory, who chose the work of a director as their profession. This time the program focused mainly on attracting young directors from provincial theaters of Uzbekistan, although among the participants there were also young directors from neighboring countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan). All of them have primary vocational training; most of them have an experience of independent productions either in educational theaters or on professional sites. And all of them confirmed their desire to continue comprehending the profession within the Laboratory.
The expansion of the program and the “geography” of the Laboratory make it much richer and complex. The resonance that the Laboratory has received from the beginning of its activity aroused wide interest in the professional environment. And that is precisely why the organizers, via increasing the number of new participants, plan to create a professional network, where they can meet, share their experiences, and participate in creative projects, both new participants of the Laboratory and participants of its first sessions. The organizers dream is to create optimal conditions for such a trade union, as well as provide a professional and creative environment by attracting high-class specialists, using highly artistic literary material.
The laboratory will enable them to be the part of the best team in Central Asia, with a Master who has established himself in the international theater arena. Mastering both classical and modern avant-garde dramatic medium in the framework of the Laboratory sessions is a rare opportunity for a young director.
The Laboratory for young directors was and remains the laboratory of creative searches and experiments.
The basis for the creative process of the 6th and 7th sessions of the Laboratory (August 17 – September 25, 2009) was the work on two plays. The first play is “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare. Work on “Hamlet” was carried out with the actors of the Mark Wail’s Ilkhom Theater (in Russian) under the guidance of Laboratory Master Ovlyakuli Khojakuli. During the classes, the Laboratory participants took part in the production of “Hamlet”. Laboratory participants became assistant directors. Moreover, laboratory participants had a practical opportunity to work with actors on the implementation of the performance intention (etude method). To do this, the text of the play was divided into fragments, and the Laboratory participants became responsible for working on the episodes assigned to them.
The second work is the project “Doctor Faustus Legends”, which is based on folk stories about Faustus, translated into modern language by the young Uzbek playwright Zjenechka Palekhova (into Uzbek). Work on this project was carried out together with the actors of the Uzbek drama theaters under the guidance of the Laboratory Master Ovlyakuli Khojakuli.
The result of the sixth and seventh sessions of the Laboratory was to increase the level of practical assistance in implementing creative projects of young directors starting their career in the profession and, eventually, to hold two open demonstrations of laboratory examination works.
An open show of laboratory participants took place on September 21, 2009 at 18.30 at the Mark Wail’s Ilkhom Theater.
The first part – excerpts from the play “Hamlet”
The second part – excerpts from the performance of Zhenechka Palekhova’s “Around Faustus”.
The laboratory for young directors gives its participants a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the work of experienced professionals, to adopt, transform this experience and apply it in their own creative work on the theatrical platform of Central Asia.

8 STAGE OF THE LABORATORY
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Directors from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan took part in the 8th stage of the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia and Kazakhstan.
Vladimir Pankov (SounDrama studio, Moscow) was the master of the laboratory.
This year’s program was based on the practical engagement of laboratory participants in the production process of Vladimir Pankov. It included: a series of lectures, seminars, master classes by leading experts.
The Laboratory Educators:
Viktor Ryzhakov – Director, educator, artistic director of the Theater and Cultural Center named after Vs. Meyerhold (Meyerhold Center), director of the A. Volodin Theater Festival, director of the “New Drama” directing and drama laboratories, winner of the Golden Mask Russian National Theater Award (Moscow).
Mikhail Ugarov – Russian playwright, director and screenwriter, member of the organizing committee and one of the organizers of the “Lyubimovka” festival of young drama, artistic director of the “Theater. DOC”, artistic director of the “A. Kazantsev and M. Roshchin Center for Drama and Direction”, head of the seminar for young playwrights, ideologist of the movement “New Drama”.
Elena Kovalskaya – art director of the “Lyubimovka” Festival of Contemporary Drama, a famous theater critic and expert. She graduated from the theater faculty of the RATA – Russian Academy of Theater Art (GITIS – State Academy of Theater Art). She worked as literary director at the “School of contemporary play” theater. She was a grader and for some time, a director of the New Drama festival. Since 1999 she has been working as a theater columnist for the Afisha magazine. She teaches the history of foreign theater in RATA. She’s a winner of theater awards “Debut” and “The Seagull”. She is one of the founders of the School for Theater Leader (Meyerhold Center).

Dates of the Laboratory: April 11 – May 23, 2013.
The project was implemented thanks to the support of:
Swiss Cooperation Office in Uzbekistan
Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Netherlands Foundation of Prince Claus

9th STAGE of the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia 2014
October 1- 30 “ILL HOME” FESTIVAL
Venue: Mark Wail’s Theater Ilkhom
MAIN TOPIC – the Site-specific theater:

• Site-specific theater: Directors are increasingly looking for alternative, not theatrical spaces. Unlike the black box of the scene, these places have their own mood, their own memory. They keep different stories and the performances find ways to revive them. The place determines everything – the production literally “grows” out of its microclimate, architecture and purpose. The main task of site-specific theater is to destroy the stereotype perception of the theater. The audience is not just watching what is happening. It inevitably falls into the “epicenter” of events and becomes part of the play. The place dictates its own rules of conduct with which participants must agree and abide by them unconditionally. Audience is forced to move in an unfamiliar space, navigate in unforeseen situations and interact with actors, sometimes even lead the initiative. Usually site-specific performances are inseparable from the place in which they are created. This is the only context where they are understood.
(October 27-29) – The festival “Ill Home” was held, under the slogan: “The Theater is around us. Theater is inside us.” During this festival, young directors went beyond the usual theater space: and took up the development of a new territory – not a stage, but an unadapted platform. The festival show of the laboratory participants’ sketch works took place in an abandoned gallery (above the Ilkhom Theater). The total area is 2000 square meters.
Teachers and curators of the Laboratory from Uzbekistan:
Theater experts, art managers, stage designers, musicians, actors and directors: Boris Gafurov, Shukhrat Abdumalikov, Muhabbat Tulyakhodzhaeva, Sukhrob Nazimov, Thibaut de Ruyter (Germany).
Directors from Russia: Zhenya Berkovich, Yuri Kviatkovsky, Ksenia Petrenko.
The project was supported by the Swiss Cooperation Office in Uzbekistan and the Prince Klaus Foundation (Netherlands).

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STAGE 10 of the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia 2017: Theater, Music, Poetry.
(September 20 – October 20)
Laboratory Master – Vladimir Pankov (studio SounDrama Moscow).
Musical Director – Artem Kim (OMNIBUS Band, Tashkent).
Experimental work of combining theater, music and choreography. The poetical play “Fedra” by Marina Tsvetaeva has served the basis for the artistic material.

Main themes:
• Theater. Music. Poetry: The 10th Laboratory is associated with the staging of the poetical play by Marina Tsvetaeva “Fedra”. The production of the performance by the director Vladimir Pankov and musical director Artem Kim provided an educational process for its participants at the Ilkhom Theater. Laboratory participants attended all the processes of production, from the conceptual design and rehearsals to the release of the performance. The training format included analysis of the rehearsal process, daily discussion of rehearsals, methods and materials with the Laboratory Master and the Music Director. The ability to understand and embody the synthesis of theatrical production and live musicians, the choreographic solution of a poetic text – that’s what laboratory participants had to master during the work process.
The 10th Laboratory principal is based on the CCM (Collective Composition Method). Together with the OMNIBUS band, Artem Kim creates the “Collective Composition Method” (CCM), a unique system for arranging the creative process, which is based on the idea of producing an artwork by a team of authors who are also the performers of this artwork. The method offers specific mechanisms for managing the creative process, both individual and collective ones, at all stages – from the emergence of the initial idea to the structural completion of an artwork.
In many ways, the CCM reinterprets the roles of not only the authors and performers of an artwork – the director, composer, actor, musician, but also the audience itself – the viewer and listener. The CCM includes practices (exercises, trainings, games, etc.) that teach you how to feel energy and information flows, and how to manage them. The practices are aimed at developing an intuitive sense of the band and structure, the ability to spontaneously improvise, physically and emotionally concentrate and relax in the process of individual and collective creativity. Each participant was provided with poetic material to work at the CCM Laboratory. Each participant created a group of 2 to 3 actors of the Ilkhom Theater and 2-3 musicians. The educational demonstration of the CCM results to the viewer was held on October 14, 2017.

Educators, curators from Uzbekistan:
Musicians, actors and directors: Boris Gafurov, Jakhongir Shukurov, Artem Kim, Sukhrob Nazimov. (Ilkhom Theater, OMNIBUS band).
Directors, stage designers, choreographers and theater experts from Russia:
Vladimir Pankov, Studio SounDrama (Moscow)
Sergey Agafonov, Studio SounDrama (Moscow)
Veronika Nasalskaya BATA Theater (Almaty)
Polina Mironova, Center for Drama and Directing (Moscow)
Elena Kovalskaya, Meyerhold Center (Moscow)
Official partner: Theater Union of the Russian Federation
In cooperation with: OMNIBUS Band (Tashkent)
SounDrama Studio (Moscow).
The project was implemented thanks to the support of Swiss Cooperation Office in Uzbekistan.

11th STAGE of the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia
This stage was held from September 15-30, 2019, in cooperation with the “Theater Leader School”, operating within the Meyerhold Center, Moscow.
Laboratory Concept 2019: creative tandem of director and art manager.
For the first time, art managers and theater directors were invited to participate in the Laboratory, ready to work in tandem with theater directors.

Head:
Elena Kovalskaya, art director of the Meyerhold Center, Moscow, head of the “Theater Leader School”.

Curators:
Roman Feodori, Artistic Director of the Krasnoyarsk Young Spectators Theater.
Head of creative and sociocultural projects: the annual Laboratory of Topical Drama and Directing “Hanger”, the Drama Laboratory for Teenagers “ClassAct”, the project with the participation of hearing impaired children “Human Voice”.
Elena Tupyseva: Director of the Ballet Moscow Theater (Moscow). Strategic planning.
Anastasia Patlay: Director of Teatra.doc (Moscow) an independent theater in Russia. Workshop on
Anastasia Tarasova: Director of the ART & SHOCK Theater (Almaty) an independent theater in Central Asia.
Yekaterina Bondarenko: playwright, dance playwright, performer, documentarian (Moscow).

Curators from Uzbekistan:
Boris Gafurov – artistic director of the Ilkhom Theater
Irina Bharat – deputy director of the Ilkhom Theater, creative producer

Main themes and program:
• The art of theater management (September 15-20, Roman Feodori)
• Independent Theater (September 20, Boris Gafurov, Irina Bharat, Elena Kovalskaya)
• Theater of the townspeople (September 21-23, Yekaterina Bondarenko-Gatsalova)
• ART & SHOCK: Development of an independent platform and company in Kazakhstan
• Art program and marketing (September 22, Anastasia Tarasova)
• Post colonial researches in the theater (September 23, Elena Kovalskaya)
• Documentary Theater (September 24 – 30, Anastasia Patlay)
• Business game “Client’s Way” (September 24, Elena Kovalskaya)
• Working with reality and working with memory (September 25, Anastasia Patlay)
• Strategic planning of the company: vision, mission, analysis of the company.
SWOT, TOWS analysis, Boston matrix, financial plan; definition of financing and marketing channels; audience development plan (September 21-30, Elena Tupyseva, Elena Kovalskaya)
• Defining target audience; art program; schedule (September 28-29, Elena Kovalskaya, Irina Bharat, Boris Gafurov)
• Defense of the projects by Laboratory participants.

On September 23, the private screening of the work results of the Young Directors Laboratory participants was held in the master class of Yekaterina Bondarenko namely: “Theater of the townspeople”.
On September 30, the results of the Laboratory for Young Directors of Central Asia were shown at the Anastasia Patlay master class namely: “Documentary Theater” – “Sometimes I Fly”.
The laboratory was held under the general support of the Swiss Cooperation Office at the Embassy of Switzerland in Uzbekistan.