In IN CONTEXT #9, David Woollcombe described the musical play, “Peace Child”, and told of their plans to take it to the Soviet Union as part of the World Festival of Youth and Students during July and August of 1985. Here is what they accomplished.
In eleven days, we achieved the following:
1) The first joint US-Soviet presentation of “PEACE CHILD.” 17 Americans aged 7 – 19 from 8 states & the District of Columbia joined 30 Soviet young people to present the show under the joint direction of Steve Riffkin and myself from the US, Stas Namin, Valodya Alennikov and choreographer Vladimir Druzhinin from the Soviet Union.
2) One full performance of the ninety-minute show at the Children’s Musical Theatre in the presence of the theatre’s founder and artistic director, Madame Natalia Sats, the poet Yevtoshenko and other distinguished Soviet guests. The entire presentation was recorded by the Children’s Department of Gosteleradio for subsequent presentations.
3) Two other joint presentations of extracts from the show, one at the club of the Soviet Delegation.
4) Three major concert appearances with the Stas Namin band, two which were televised.
5) Three concert appearances on our own.
6) Four recording sessions at Melodya Studios.
7) One appearance at Gostel Astianka Studios with Soviet Poet, Andrej Vosnievsensky, for a six- minute section on nationwide Soviet nightly news.
8) Six joint rehearsals with Soviet children, one of which was televised for a 30-minute section in a Soviet TV Arts magazine program.
9) Countless radio and press interviews with correspondents from local and national organizations including Izvestia, Soviet Culture, Professional Theatre, Nationwide radio music program, CBS, UPI, Estonian Radio, Latvian Radio, correspondents from Krasnodar, Smolensk, Denmark, France, West Germany and others.
Personal High Points:
- Gwen Ross, a black female American, singing with Sasha Losev, a white male Soviet, a song about the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King in perfect harmony drawing the audience of two thousand Soviets to their feet as one in a five-minute standing ovation.
- State Department and USA officials attending (unofficially) the performance at the Musical Theatre and affirming to me, “This is very good.” – while unknown Soviets in the audience mopped tears from their eyes.
- One of our cast turning to me on the last day and saying: “I could never have imagined there would be so many loving, gentle people in this country.”
For more information about the work of the Peace Child Foundation, contact Lucia Effros at 3977 Chain Bridge Rd – Suite 204, Fairfax, VA 22030, or 703/385-4494.