A collage of 40 Zoom screens of the 20 productions (one in English, one in Russian) of the Flash Acts Festival
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Russian and American Playwrights Take Center Stage at Flash Acts, a Groundbreaking Theater Festival October 8-13, 2020

The Forum for Cultural Engagement, Arena Stage, Georgetown University, The Lubimovka Young Russian Playwrights Festival, and the Center for Modern Drama brings together more than 150 Leading American and Russian Playwrights, Actors, Directors, and Designers to Premiere 20 New Short Plays

Washington, DC – October 2, 2020 – The Forum for Cultural Engagement today announced FLASH ACTS, a six-day, bilingual, virtual theater festival featuring newly commissioned short plays by 20 celebrated American and Russian playwrights; panel discussions; and live musical performances. This first-of-its-kind collaboration brings together Russian and American artists in an innovative exchange of artistic works as the two countries remain in the spotlight. The Festival will open on Thursday, October 8 at 12:30 PM EDT at www.flashactsfestival.org.

FLASH ACTS will premiere two productions – one in English and one in Russian – of four new plays daily. These energizing new plays will be performed by different creative teams featuring actors in an enhanced format combining the best of theatre, film, and television. On Friday, October 9 at 12:30 PM EDT, a panel featuring current U.S. Ambassador John J. Sullivan, as well as two former U.S. Ambassadors to Russia, Jon Huntsman, Jr. and John F. Tefft, will focus on the importance of cultural diplomacy and the emergence of increased digital diplomacy. A full FLASH ACTS schedule is available on the festival website. 

“FLASH ACTS reflects the experiences of Russian and American playwrights living a world apart during this unprecedented time,” said Mary McBride, Founder & Executive Director of The Forum for Cultural Engagement. “Today, more than 150 American and Russian artists prove that art has the power to deepen understanding and bring communities together.”

“Arena Stage is proud to be part of this international collaboration. Commissioning diverse playwrights to write from the theme of isolation and then sharing those stories internationally through zoom productions is transformative. Isolation becomes collaboration, quarantine becomes company, and boundaries disappear,” said Molly Smith, Artistic Director of Arena Stage.

“In a time where so much feels broken and fractured in the world, FLASH ACTS models an inclusive way of building new relationships and understandings, and to foster community, friendship, and hope,” said Derek Goldman, Co-Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University.

FLASH ACTS is sponsored by the United States Embassy Moscow. “The United States Embassy in Moscow offers a standing ovation for the artists and producers of the FLASH ACTS Festival,” said Ambassador John J. Sullivan, United States Ambassador to Russia. “This innovative cultural exchange holds the promise of reaching countless audiences around the globe, shining a spotlight on the power of collaboration during a period too often marked by isolation and division.”


Executive Producer

The Forum for Cultural Engagement (FCE) is a leading cultural diplomacy organization, which produces multi-faceted, interdisciplinary programming around the globe. Founded by singer-songwriter Mary McBride, FCE collaborates with embassies, corporations, academic institutions, cultural organizations, NGOs and artists to forge deeper understanding, ease conflict and lessen human isolation. In collaboration with multi-national diplomatic teams and a broad network of partner organizations across four continents, FCE has created bold and uniquely innovative programming since its inception in 2014, including such programs as The Home Tour, Shelter Sounds, Shop Talks, Flash Acts, and Frame Work. FCE’s ongoing, dynamic cultural programming brings together today’s most compelling artists and thinkers with social and cultural organizations to forge human connection and advance positive social change. www.fcengage.org

Producing Partners

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacting the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its eighth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000. Arena Stage’s pioneering spirit is evident in several significant achievements: it was one of the first American theaters to convert to not-for-profit status; it was the first regional theater to have a production taken to Broadway; it was the first theater outside New York to win a Tony Award in 1976; and, in 1973, Arena Stage was the first American theater to tour the Soviet Union. www.arenastage.org

The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, co-founded by Derek Goldman and Ambassador Cynthia Schneider, harnesses the power of performance to humanize global politics. Since 2012, The Lab has created and presented innovative work from around the world that is at the intersection of politics and performance. Among the Lab’s many initiatives and projects are CrossCurrents, a biennial festival that in 2019 brought together hundreds of artists from more than forty countries, a Global Fellows Program, and numerous original productions and convenings. The Lab’s distinctive approach engages artists, policymakers, and wider audiences in forums that cast critical issues in new light. As the only signature joint initiative between the School of Foreign Service and Georgetown College, The Lab is passionate about helping to train the next generation of innovators to use their artistry and voices to shape new understandings and to humanize others in pursuit of a better, more just world. globallab.georgetown.edu

The Center for Modern Drama (CMD), based in Yekaterinburg, was founded in 2009 by playwright and teacher Nikolay Kolyada. The Center has been heralded for its commitment to experimentation in theater and for encouraging a censorship-free environment for artists in all stages of their careers to develop their craft. CMD is an ongoing repertory theater, presenting new works in coordination with writing and acting schools in the Ural region of Russia and Northwestern Kazakhstan. www.uralcsd.ru

The Lubimovka Young Russian Playwrights Festival is a nonprofit festival dedicated to discovering challenging new work by emerging and established playwrights from Russia and former Soviet republics. Widely regarded as one of the leading playwriting events in the Russian speaking world, the eight-day festival, held annually in Moscow in early September, features staged readings, master classes and workshops. Since 2014 Lubimovka has participated in an annual translation exchange program with the Lark Theater lab in New York City. https://lubimovka.art/projects/8

Contact at Georgetown University Department of Performing Arts:
Laura Mertens, Public Relations and Special Events Manager