CHICAGO -- Opening March 3 after starting previews Feb. 26 is an English-language U.S. premiere by the European Repertory Company. Stars in the Morning Sky, a topical 1986 Russian drama by Alexander Galin, tells a different kind of Olympic story.
Banished to a village just outside Moscow so that they won't embarrass the Soviet Union's 1980 Summer Olympics Games, five Russian women -- four of them prostitutes -- proclaim a patriotism that the Motherland doesn't deserve. A product of the "glasnost" liberalization that preceded the fall of the Soviet Union, the play premiered in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1987 at the Maly Theatre and found acclaim in London and 10 other European cities.
The Chicago staging, by E.R.C. artistic director Yasen Peyankov and Luda Lopatina, features a new translation by Peyankov and Peter Christensen.
E.R.C. showcases both European and American-trained actors, committed to the presentation of classic and contemporary European works. Legend has it that E.R.C. artistic director director Dale Goulding (who staged an acclaimed Agamemnon in 1997) arrived in Chicago from London with only $40 in his pocket. Managing Director Yasen Peyankov is a political dissident from Bulgaria. Both are thoroughly trained in theatre arts.
The company has achieved critical success in their five and one-half year existence. Goulding said, "We arrived with a clear goal and commitment to a theatre style based in a technique that creates 'theatre' in the magical sense of the word." The company's credo is based on the principles of Polish-born theorist Jerzy Grotowski. E.R.C. is committed to the belief that theatre "exists to learn to break down barriers which surround us, and to free ourselves from the brakes that hold us back, from the lies about ourselves which we manufacture daily for ourselves and for others, to destroy the limitations caused by our ignorance and lack of courage, in short, to fill the emptiness in us: to fulfill ourselves. Art is ripening, an evolution, an uplifting which enables us to emerge from darkness into a blaze of light."
For tickets to European Rep's Stars in the Morning Sky, Feb. 26-April 11, at Baird Hall on West Wellington, call (773) 248-0577.