Theatrical dialogues between Austria and Russia
On Friday, December 3, 2021, the round table "Work of theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic: difficulties and challenges. The conclusions drawn from this period of work", which opened a series of events on the theme "Theatrical dialogues between Austria and Russia". The project is organized by the Russian-Austrian Public Forum "Sochi Dialogue" and the Austrian Cultural Forum in Moscow.
On May 15, 2019, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Austrian colleague Karin Kneissl reached an agreement to hold a cross-year of Russian and Austrian literature and theater in 2020-2021. Due to the pandemic and current quarantine restrictions, it was decided to extend the bilateral friendly program until 2022. The series of events " Theatrical Dialogues between Austria and Russia" is held within the framework of the cross-year Year of Literature and Theater of the two countries.
The guests of honor at the round table "Work of theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic: difficulties and challenges. The conclusions drawn from this period of work" were: Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, Co-Chairman of the Russian-Austrian Public Forum "Sochi Dialogue" Andrey Fursenko; Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Austria to the Russian Federation Dr. Werner Almhofer; Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Austria Dmitry Lubinsky; Special Representative of the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Ambassador Dr. Margot Klestil-Loeffler. The discussion was moderated by Fabian Ortner, director of the Austrian Cultural Forum and cultural attaché of the Austrian Embassy in Moscow.
Margot Klestil-Loeffler welcomed the participants of the round table and stressed the importance of cultural ties in the Russian-Austrian relations and the role of the "Sochi Dialogue" in their development.
"Especially important is the role that cultural dialogue plays in relations between Austria and Russia. It is this cultural dialogue that creates trust between people, cultural and artistic figures and, of course, between states. "Sochi Dialogue" - is a platform that allows to develop cultural dialogue, establish contacts, facilitate communication, share opinions, and participate in discussions," said Margot Klestil-Loeffler, Special Representative for the Russian Federation of the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria.
Dmitry Lubinsky noted the high level of activities of the Russian-Austrian public forum "Sochi Dialogue" even in the conditions of quarantine restrictions.
"It is gratifying that the Sochi Dialogue maintains its energy even during the pandemic, adapts creatively to the changing conditions and generates new initiatives. Our meeting in such a format confirms it and gives start to a new cycle of dialogues and discussions on theatrical life in coronavirus conditions", - stressed the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Austria.
Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, co-chair of the Russian-Austrian public forum Sochi Dialogue Andrey Fursenko pointed out a series of joint events with the Austrian Cultural Forum in Moscow, which were scheduled on the margins of the IX St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum in November 2021. One of the key projects was a performance by an interdisciplinary student ensemble of the Private University of Music and Arts in Vienna. Unfortunately, the pandemic made its adjustments and the Forum did not take place.
Andrey Fursenko stressed that the Sochi Dialogue, continues its active work and expressed the hope that "the project 'Theatrical Dialogues between Austria and Russia' will be in high demand and useful for both speakers and listeners.
The round table highlighted the main problems that theater institutions faced due to the pandemic, as well as stories of overcoming these difficulties from the personal experience of theater leaders.
Vladimir Urin, general director of the Bolshoi Theater of Russia (Moscow), shared his own experience in maintaining the theater work under the current quarantine restrictions and told about the growing number of illnesses among theater workers.
Artistic Director of the Alexandrinsky Theatre (St. Petersburg) Valery Fokin spoke about the theater's achievements during the pandemic: the creation of its own virtual venue "The Other Stage", on the basis of which many new projects were implemented. Valery Fokin stressed the need to preserve international cooperation in the sphere of theatrical culture and shared the Alexandrinsky Theatre's plans for 2022, which include an exchange tour with the Burgtheater in Vienna.
"International contacts are important. Under no circumstances should we lose international ties at this point, because the cultural corridor, the corridor of theatrical culture, should not be closed in any way. That's why we are determined to have a dialogue," said Valery Fokin.
Roland Geyer, Director of the Theater An Der Wien (Vienna), Kai Voges, Artistic Director of the Volkstheater (Vienna), Dmitry Bertman, Artistic Director of the Helikon Opera (Moscow), and Alexandra Althof, Deputy Artistic Director of the Burgtheater (Vienna) also spoke at the round table. The speakers discussed the work of theatres during the pandemic time. Attention was also paid to the prospects of collaboration between Russia and Austria in the field of theatrical art.
Dr. Werner Almhofer, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Austria to the Russian Federation, concluded the discussion. He stressed the need to strengthen cooperation in the field of theater between the states, between different theater festivals and educational institutions. Russian Ambassador to Austria Dmitry Lyubinsky noted that "the mutual interest is very great, a dialogue is being established" and thanked the organizers and participants of the round table for the realization "Theatrical Dialogues between Russia and Austria".