The Telluride Playwrights Festival, July 9 – July 15, brings playwrights, directors and actors to town from all over to workshop new works.

Main Stage reading for the 2012 Festival include:

“Chez Rikers” is a new comedy by Charles Leipart in which a well-to-do couple find themselves held in custody, as the streets of Manhattan rage

“The Gleam” is a new entertaining farce by Eve Sawyer aka Carol K. Mack. A  young painter named Eve finds herself trapped inside a labyrinth of high jinx and mysterious corporate shenanigans.

“Swingset/Moon” is a new play by Daniel Glenn, a profound, funny, energetic, mad-cap journey that swings all over the world in search for a grieving young couple who lose their child.

The Telluride Playwright Festival is all about promoting the words and ideas of established and emerging playwrights through staged readings of works in progress. The subtext for this year’s theme, “Theatre Politicos, Speak Up,” is “From Russia with Love.”

This past Spring, Festival founder and artistic director Jennie Franks went to Moscow to attend the Russian Case Theatre Festival at the invitation of Philip Arnoult, who runs the Center for International Theatre Development. (In earlier posts on Telluride Inside… and Out, Jennie talked about the her experiences there and the plays she saw.)

For more profound insights into the state of theatre arts in Russia, Jennie invited Yury Urnov of the Wooly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, D.C. to her Festival. With Yury in town, Telluride gets to get deeply political not just on the streets or in Town Council meeting, but on the boards.

On Thursday, July 12, at noon, Gallery Room, Sheridan Opera House, Yury is scheduled to talk about the current political situation in Russia and how it impacts Russian theatre. He is also bringing a contemporary Russian play to town to direct: “Vodka, F***ing, Television, ” by Maksym Kurochkin.

Having entered a mid-life crisis, the central character of the play resolves to make drastic changes in his life. He summons his worst enemies – Vodka, F***ing and Television – and proceeds to subject them to something resembling a courtroom interrogation. Each is called upon to prove his or her independence and necessity. Since all are close, even intimate, friends of the main character, the interrogation most often resembles a heart-to-heart chat, a family argument or a visit to the psychologist. Ultimately, the main character unleashes a soliloquy that might be considered a manifesto for people who came of age during the 1990s in Russia. It begins with the words:

“We were children during the Seventies. Now we’re dangling between two self-satisfied generations, like an absurd pair of camel nuts… Our sheets are not soiled with petroleum. But with the sperm of our wives’ former lovers… we never existed. But we will. Only we will! Because without faith, without land and petroleum – we – are free.”

Yury Urnov was born in Moscow, Russia in 1976. In 2000 graduated from the Russian Academy of Theater Art with an MFA.  Directed number of productions in Russia and abroad, including Moscow main-stages “Orpheus” by E. Boyakov (2000), “Yvonne, princes of Burgundies” by V. Gombrovich (2005), “Dead man cell phone” by S. Ruhl (2008) ; as well as such experimental projects as “Tania-Tania” by Olga Mukhina (1999, Armenia),  “Dostoevsky-trip” by Vladimir Sorokin (2003, Berlin/Novosibirsk), “Vodka. F***ing. Television” by Maxim Kurochkin (2006, Moscow), and others. Taught and participated in number of master-classes in Russia, the USA, the GB, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Uganda. Translated into Russian plays of E. Albee, M. Mc Donagh, and S. Ruhl.  During the season of 09/10 worked on and directed number of plays of the Russian Season at Towson University as a Fulbright Scholar in Residence.

Playwright Festival passes are now on sale for $40 for all events. Patron passes are also available for $150. The passes are transferable and can be bought through or (for regular passes only).

TPF is inclusive and welcomes community actors, playwrights and interns who want to learn and work with professionals. Anyone interested in buying a pass for the festival please go to and Telluride Playwrights Festival Fan Page on Facebook for more information.

To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to my chat with Yury.

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