This year’s REEES bilingual Russian play is based on “Ruslan and Lyudmila,” a romantic poem by Russia’s venerated poet, Alexander Pushkin. Playful and exotic, this fairy tale delighted the Russian public. After the poem was published in 1820, Pushkin became the most popular Russian author. He often called his readers “friends of Lyudmila and Ruslan.”
“In Russian, Lukomorie is the name of a fairytale inlet of sea where the land curves inward. It is on that curved land that Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s most venerated author, spent the best hours of his otherwise unhappy childhood. His peasant nanny, Arina, told him that at Lukomorie, around the Tree of Life, a green oak, a Learned Cat walks right and left on a golden chain telling tales, Leshii the forest spirit roams the woods, mermaids sway on tree branches, fantastic animals leave their footsteps on the ground, and a witch Baba Yaga lives in a hut on chicken legs that has neither doors nor windows.
The cast of “Ruslan and Lyudmila” is of the same age as Pushkin when he was writing the poem. It is a good age to be preoccupied with fantasies of love and to set out on a quest… Working with them filled me with joy — it is to them I give my respect and gratitude.”