News and events
30 May
The 19th Cherry Forest Open Arts Festival: premiere of Manyunya at the Russian State Academic Youth Theater
The long-awaited premiere of Manyunya based on the novel by Narine Abgaryan took place at the Russian State Academic Youth Theater. The children’s program within the Cherry Forest Festival presents a new performance. “The most popular children’s book for adults” was adapted for the theater by director Ruzanna Movsesyan.
Usually in children’s books authors create an imaginary fairy-tale world with hobbits, elves, sorcerers, magic potions, enchanted forests, etc. The heart touching novel Manyunya by Narine Abgaryan is different: the setting is as prosaic as could be – we find ourselves in a small provincial city during the Soviet era, forget about magic sticks, acquiring a pair of stockings or let alone a coat would be a miracle of its own. 
But still the story is full of magic: you will find it on every single page of this autobiographical novel filled with southern sun, apricot jam and hilarious situations.
The theater show based on the story of the most featured contemporary Russian writer of Armenian descent, laureate of the Yasnaya Polyana Literary Award Narine Abgaryan – is a heartfelt story about two little girls, two friends – Manuynya and Narine, living in a Southern provincial city, their numerous flamboyant relatives, the constant mischief of the girls that gets them in trouble.
“It is a nostalgic book about the 1970-80s and childhood. Kids of today who are locked in the their apartments, schools, and numerous activities are deprived of having it”, - believes Ruzanna Movsesyan. This subject is near and dear to Ruzanna, a follower of Kima Ginkas and a former teacher.
“I do not understand what children’s performance are. By its nature, theater is not for children. My children see real theater shows, good shows, there is no distinction between theater for kids and adults”, - contemplates Ruzanna.
Ruzanna was an astrophile since her childhood, she graduated fr om the Moscow State University with a degree in physics, but later she decided to pursue a creative career. She decided to work as a school art teacher, and she also organized the Flying Ship Children’s Theater. She graduated from the Moscow Art Theater School in 2005.
The life stories of Ruzanna Movsesyan and Narine Abgaryan are very similar: the writer’s ride to success was quite bumpy as well. The young girl came to Moscow to become a journalist, but due to the lack of money she had to work at a currency exchange booth and also get training as an accountant. Unhappy with her job, she started a blog wh ere she published stories from her childhood. Narine was noticed in no time by editors who offered Abgaryan her first contract in writing. Manyunya, her first book, was published when she turned 39. It is hard to believe now that she was writing this exuberant and kind novel while she was diagnosed with a severe disease, which luckily was a medical error.
Narine recalls: “I was writing Manuynya, a story everybody believes to be joyful, at the lowest point of my life.”
She directed performances at the Moscow Youth Theater, Satyrikon, Pushkin’s Theater, EtCetera, but the Russian State Academic Youth Theater is one of her favorite theaters. It is here that she staged the successful Lilya and Min’ka based on Mikhail Zoshenko’s short stories, and the philosophical Rabbit Edward after the book of the American writer Kate Diсamillo.
“The older you get, the more you dream about seeing yourself at a young age. Return to the state of serene happiness, when all the grown-ups were still alive, and close by. I had such an urge to see myself small that I wrote a book about my happy childhood. It is about the time when the mountains were higher than the sky, when adults seemed to be giants, houses – unconquerable fortresses, and the distance to the gate equaled a whole life”, - recalls Abgaryan.
Russian State Academic Youth Theater actresses Anna Kovaleva and Anna Dvorzhetskaya performed the roles of the naughty and fidgety girls, the quaint grandmother Roza Iosifovna was played by Merited Actress of Russia Nina Dvorzhetskaya.
Children’s performances were an integral part of the Cherry Forest Festival from the beginning. In 2018 there was a world premiere of the Gulliver’s Travels ballet at the Natalya Sats Theater, in 2016 The Blue Bird was presented on the same stage, in 2015 – The Brave Tin Soldier, in 2014 – the interactive media show after Federico Fellini’s Orchestra Rehearsal film. In 2015 a premiere of the children’s show The Tinderbox adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s story was presented at the Moscow Puppet Theater. In 2017 at the State Theater of Nations, the Cherry PoemJam performance on poems of contemporary children’s poets proved to be a great success. The show featured the following star trustees of the Galchonok Charitable Fund: Yulia Peresild, Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Marina Aleksandrova, Alisa Grebenshikova, and others.
We welcome you to see Manyunya as part of the Cherry Forest Festival on June 5 and 13.

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