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Past Projects: Russia 
Beyond the Capitals

THE PROJECT 2011–Present


Baltimore • Austin • San Francisco • New Orleans


St. Petersburg • Yekaterinburg • Omsk • Moscow


Beyond the Capitals (Part 1) group with John O’Neal at the Ashe Cultural Center in New Orleans. From L-R: Jim O’Quinn, Susan Stroupe, Robert Avila, Ida Daniel, Yury Urnov, John O’Neal, Milena Avimskaya, Pavel Shishin

Beyond the Capitals began as an idea both to explore unique theater cultures in America, and to have meaningful interactions with artists from a country with a similar size and centralized culture:  Russia.  An excerpt from the original description:

This project is simple:  create an encounter between a new generation of Russian cultural animators and the landscape of American theater–not in the usual spots, but in small, unique performance cultures across the country.

The Russian participants are from both the capitals and the far reaches of Russian theater culture.  They are young and in a position to influence the direction of culture and theater in their cities and in Russia in general over the next two or three decades.

By bringing them to places outside of the American theater capitals, we will tap into a shared ethos of Russia and America:  that place has a powerful influence on art, and can create different models of support, partnerships, and both economic and artistic sustainability.

The encounters with these unique performance cultures is not just about seeing the art, but about learning the history, meeting the artists, eating the food, dancing to the music, walking the land, and creating a shared language that could forge partnerships for decades to come.

Take a look at the original Beyond the Capitals Publicity Packet (pdf).

CITD brought four Russian theater animators:

  • Maria Kroupnik, Moscow

  • Milena Avimskaya, St. Petersburg

  • Pavel Shishin, Omsk

  • Natalya Druzhinina, Yekaterinburg

To the four theater cultures of Baltimore, Austin, San Francisco, and New Orleans.  Over three weeks in May 2012, these Russians ate, drank, danced, and discussed theater with over 150 theater artists who were choosing to live and work in a place.  Beyond the Capitals was an enormous success; visit the website/blog here.  Read the Final Report (pdf).

Watch the Russians give powerful testimony on their expectations and discoveries of American arts and culture in a discussion with Mugwumpin company on their new piece on American prophecy (premiering March 2013):  Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3


Everyone gathered at Liam Flynn’s Ale House in Station North, Baltimore.

Beyond the Capitals: Part 2​

Because of the success of BC Part 1, CITD is embarking on a second leg of Beyond the Capitals, reversing the direction by taking American theater artists from the four cities we visited to the cities of our four Russian participants.

From May 14 – June 3 2013, a group of 7 Americans and 2 Russians journeyed through three cities in Russia, with a coda in Moscow, meeting over 115 artists, seeing 28 performances, solidifying the connection with our Russian hosts, and making new connections with emerging Russian artists that may result in collaborations over coming years.

Our delegation to Russia for Beyond the Capitals 2013:

  • Shawn Sides, Artistic Director, Rude Mechanicals (Austin)

  • Jenny Larson, Artistic Director, Salvage Vanguard (Austin)

  • Christopher White, Artistic Director, Mugwumpin company (San Francisco)

  • Kathy Randels, Artistic Director, ArtSpot Productions (New Orleans)

  • MK Wegmann, Executive Director, National Performance Network (New Orleans and national)

  • Robert Avila, journalist/critic, San Francisco Bay Guardian, CITD Project Partner, San Francisco

  • Yury Urnov, director, CITD Project Partner, Baltimore/DC/Moscow

  • Susan Stroupe, Associate Director, CITD, Beyond the Capitals Project Manager, Baltimore

  • Maria Kroupnik, Independent Arts Manager, Beyond the Capitals Russian Project Coordinator, Moscow

It was an incredible journey, and you can find out all about it, and about the people who participated, on the Beyond the Capitals website.

Technical support for Beyond the Capitals 2013 was provided by Robert Matney, an Austin-based performer and technical wizard, a company member of Hidden Room and who works with many other theater companies in Austin.


The Beyond the Capitals group with John Freedman at the Europe/Asia border outside of Yekaterinburg. From front to back: John Freedman, Kathy Randels, Susan Stroupe, MK Wegmann, Robert Avila, Jenny Larson, Natalya Druzhinina, Maria Kroupnik, Shawn Sides, Christopher White

Beyond the Capitals:  NOT the Usual Suspects is funded by

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