Fabergé Revisited: The Tsar’s Easter Eggs in the Age of the Oligarchs

Pippa Crawford examines the history of extreme wealth in Russia through the lens of its most famous trinkets

One rainy Sunday in St. Petersburg, I went to Shuvalov Palace and finally saw the Fabergé eggs for myself. The sprawling neoclassical museum on the banks of the Fontanka now houses one of the world’s finest collections of Tsarist treasures, including the Imperial Easter eggs I’d heard so many stories about. Here’s what happened…

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Rafy Hay
Filming a Force of Nature: How to Create a Portrait of a Dance Superstar

Director Gerry Fox on the making of his new film, Force of Nature Natalia, which follows a year in the life of Royal Ballet principal dancer Natalia Osipova

I didn’t want to make Dancer. I didn’t want to make a salacious ‘personal life’ documentary, as I truly believed that Natalia’s real life revolved primarily around working on dance itself, so I felt the film needed to be a serious, grown-up look at the process of creating dance through her eyes…and feet!

The film would follow Natalia for a year in her life, observing her at work on Royal Ballet productions as well as other, more contemporary dance, dance-theatre and modern ballet pieces during the period…

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An Abundance of Uncle Vanyas: Chekhov on the Russian Stage

Pippa Crawford examines the staying power of Russia’s greatest playwright

Spend an afternoon wandering around a European capital of your choice, and I can guarantee it won’t be long before you stumble upon Anton Chekhov. The pre-revolutionary dramatist, with his darkly comic tales of unrequited love, suicide and artistic failure, has become a well-worn favourite, his plays staged more often than those of anyone bar Shakespeare. He is revived so relentlessly that one questions how he could ever have been considered inert. So just what is it about these plays that has endured over a century of performances, with countless regime changes and butchered translations along the way?

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Laughing Their Heads Off: Political Jokes Under Stalin

Jonathan Waterlow details the history of humour under totalitarianism

Stalinism. The word conjures dozens of associations, and ‘funny’ isn’t usually one of them. The ‘S-word’ is now synonymous with brutal and all-encompassing state control that left no room for laughter or any form of dissent. And yet, countless diaries, memoirs and even the state’s own archives reveal that people continued to crack jokes about the often terrible lives they were forced to live in the shadow of the Gulag…

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Interview with Ben Macintyre, author of Pushkin Prize 2019 shortlisted book 'The Spy and the Traitor'

Interview by Andrew Jack (@AJack)

Where does your interest in Russia come from?

I studied Russian to O level rather ineffectively and read a lot of Russian literature. I loved the country and was always fascinated by it. I didn’t keep up my Russian but in the world of spies I inhabit, Russia was pre-eminent and is looming ever larger. My book before last was on Kim Philby, which was the first that took me deep into the Russian story. But the Russian element played a big part in quite a lot of my books…

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