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From the shell of the complexes

Director Olga Taranova on how and why the theater environment helps difficult adolescents and people with mental disabilities

Olga Taranova more than 17 years working as a director-teacher in various theatrical studios in Vladivostok. From the very beginning of professional activity, children from disadvantaged families came to work with her. Now Olga is the creator, teacher and director of the Center for Contemporary Art "Litsedey." In addition to the theatrical teenage studio "Balaganchik", there are two socially important projects: an inclusive theater studio "The Open Door" and a theater studio for difficult adolescents "We pull the rope together". About her difficult youth and her projects, Olga Taranova told EastRussia for the column "Unsuccessful".

From the shell of the complexes
Photos: courtesy of ANO CSI Lyceide.
Olga Taranova was born in Vladivostok to a family of military personnel. At the age of seven months she moved with her parents to Kamchatka, to the village of Rybachy. In Primorye, the family returned almost five years later, settled in Shkotovsky district, in the village of Pacific. Here Olga first went to the theater studio.

“From early childhood I wanted to be an actress,” she says. - When I was four and a half years old, we moved to a new apartment. The room was furnished with disassembled furniture, mirrors leaning against the walls. Mom and her friend turned on gypsy music, and I jumped out, and scraps rushed through the back streets! I loved seeing myself dancing in those mirrors. My mother also instilled in me a love of literature and performances. She gave me good books to read, and we watched performances on TV together. By the age of six I had already watched the performance of the Moscow Art Theater "Mary Stuart", the performances of the Moscow theater of satire "The Marriage of Figaro" and "Solo for the striking clock".

Olga and her parents returned to Vladivostok when she was 12 years old. She studied at the school number 38 and there she studied at the theatrical studio "12-th floor", directed by Irina Nikolaevna Pisareva. Later, she went to work in the studio "Version" at the gymnasium № 2, and Olga went to study there. Pisareva became her main teacher and mentor for her whole life.

- My youth fell on the beginning of 90. Dad was the captain of the first rank. And what is it for a person who has everything clearly and clearly, the collapse of the country? For our family it was a tragedy, - Olga recalls. - I grew up heavily, I was very withdrawn, I was afraid to talk with my peers, especially boys. My lips trembled when I had to say something. My teacher Irina Nikolaevna worked with difficult children from her youth. She was very energetic and guided us. Studying at the theater studio allowed me to realize in life what I felt when I watched the performances of the Moscow Art Theater on TV. On stage, I was free and relaxed. 

After graduating from school, Olga Taranova entered the Far Eastern Institute of Arts at the theater faculty, but did not pass the competition. She was very upset and disappointed, dropped out of the studio and took a job at the Pacific Higher Naval Academy as a clerk. But six months later, I realized that “without a theater is not life,” and returned to “Versia” for another two years.

In 2000, Olga was invited to work as a methodologist for organizing events at the Children's Creativity Center of the Sovetskiy District of Vladivostok. She occupied this post for six months, and then she recruited a group of children. So in the CDT appeared a teenage studio "Litsedey." Taranova 12 years was its director-teacher. And she also worked at a boarding school for gifted children named after Dubinin at the Vladivostok State University.

"And then the bureaucracy tortured me," she says, "and we decided to create our own theater studio, independent of anybody, and call it" The Puppet Show ", as I always dreamed. In her came the children who grew up in the "Litsedei" and the school number 77, where I also worked. For two years we were a spontaneous gathering. And then they legitimated their existence: for the third year we are a non-commercial organization "CIC" Litsedey. "

Now the "Balaganchik" has an evening group for the little ones, children from 3 to 7 go there. There is a morning group for those who study at school on the second shift - these are children from 8 to 13 years, and for those who go to school on the first shift - children from 7 to 12 years. And the older group, which also deals with the basic composition - from 9 to 30 years. Two more socially important projects are working in the ANO "CIC" Litsedey ": an inclusive theater studio" The Open Door "and a theater studio for difficult teenagers" We pull the rope together ".

The medical psychologist of the regional psychiatric hospital Ekaterina Fidenko suggested that Olga Taranova organize classes for adults with mental disabilities. So in 2015 year ANO "Good cause", the society of disabled Pervomaisky district of Vladivostok and Olga started a joint project. The "open door" is a rehabilitation project where teenagers and adults are taught to communicate, feel boundaries, share responsibility for accomplishing an important task for everyone, to be part of the team. For two years, students with mental disabilities and actors without health restrictions jointly prepared a fabulous performance based on the play "Blue Bird" by Maurice Maeterlinck. At the end of December 2017, they showed him the stage of the Pushkin Theater in Vladivostok.

"The first year we had classes to develop attention and imagination, games for interaction, we put sketches to music," says Olga. - And the following year they already dedicated the production of the performance "The Blue Bird". We all thought over and discussed the script, images, costumes. Now we have almost finished work on a new play. This will be an individual job. We will present Otrepiev and Godunov's monologues from Pushkin's Boris Godunov, an excerpt from the novel The Herbert's Dune, Pushkin's The Onion in the Sea, Chekhov's and Ageyev's stories, a fragment from Gogol's The Nose, and so on. All the guys work selflessly, they want to surpass themselves, overcome difficulties. I certainly see how they grew over themselves. Some became much more attentive to people, more relaxed towards themselves. One guy tries to get a job, and before that he did not even dare speak to a stranger.

In October of the year 2017, ANO CSI "Litsedey" organized the project "Tear for the rope together". This is a free theater studio for teenagers from families in a socially dangerous situation. The project began to work at the expense of gathering on the "Beginning" platform, and then won a presidential grant. Now in the "Rope" there is a morning and evening group, only 20 children from 12 to 18 are doing everything. Basically, these are children from incomplete or large families. Most of them have communication problems, some can communicate only through the Internet. The result of the project "Let's pull the rope together" will be a production based on Vyacheslav Rybakov's book "Strind for a string".

Olga Taranova graduated in absentia from the branch of the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions, majoring in social and cultural activities in family and child. And now she is completing the Master's Degree in FEFU and the theme of her master's work "Development of Positive Self-Relationships among Teens in the Theater Studio". Olga has been working with children for more than 17 years, and from the very beginning of the theatrical activity she had difficult teenagers from disadvantaged families. She staged with them performances of Shakespeare and Brecht, and they also drank tea and just talked.

- We, of course, have artistic goals, but they, first of all, serve as a tool in educational work. In our studio everyone, regardless of any features, feels necessary, heard, understood, meaningful. We are all friends. The ability to experience and empathize is the main thing in the theater. The theater allows us to think about something, draw our conclusions, give birth to our own meanings. Many psychologists and educators believe that another such tool to release a person from the shell of the complexes, like the theater, has not yet been invented. And on the stage a person feels free. And we are working to transfer this state to everyday life. The main task of the whole "Litsedeya" is to organize the conditions for meeting the person with himself, "Olga concludes.
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