Oleg Anatolyevich Bogayev (Russian: Оле́г Анато́льевич Бога́ев; also transliterated as Bogaev or Bogaiev), born 1970, is a Russian playwright based in Yekaterinburg. He has been described by Moscow Times theatre critic John Freedman as "one of the first and best-known students to graduate from [Nikolai] Kolyada’s playwriting course at the Yekaterinburg State Theatre Institute." He is now on the faculty at the same school. Bogaev is also the editor of the Ural (Russian: Урал) literary magazine, a post he took over from his mentor Nikolai Kolyada in August 2010.
Oleg Bogayev was born in 1970 in the city of Sverdlovsk (now called Yekaterinburg) in Russia. He writes of growing up as the Cold War gave way to the emergence of Perestroika, a "change from the decay of the empire to the birth of a new society." He cites the social turmoil of recent decades as useful for artistic product: "[What] I know is that Russia is just the right place for a playwright - with shattering of fates, conflicts, crumbling of hopes, clashes of ideas - all that I've seen and experienced."
Bogayev became interested in writing as a teenager, spurred by what he describes as "two tragedies": first love and the death of his father. He began writing poems and short stories. He worked in theatre as a set and lighting designer; he became interested in writing plays after being exposed to the work of Harold Pinter.
The author of over 30 plays, he is best known for his play Русская народная почта (Russkaya Narodnaya Pochta, variously translated as The Russian National Postal Service, The Russian People's Post, etc.), for which he has won the 1997 Anti-Booker Prize for a stage play and the award for Best Play at Russia's Golden Mask Festival. The play first came to public attention at a dramatic reading during the 1997 Lyubimovka Festival of Young Playwrights; it was later produced in a revised form as Room of Laughter, directed by Kama Ginkas and starring Oleg Tabakov in 1998. It has subsequently been performed translated into English and French and has been produced in London, Montreal, and Washington, D.C. as well as around the Slavic world.
The Russian National Postal Service follows impoverished Russian pensioner Ivan Zhukov on his descent into madness. He engages in fanciful correspondence, writing letters to important world figures (living, dead, and fictional) and then writes replies to himself on their behalf. Prominent among his imagined correspondents are Elizabeth II and Soviet Russia's Vladimir Lenin, as well as cosmonauts, Russian officials, and Robinson Crusoe. The play has often been compared to the works of Nikolai Gogol for its absurdism and treatment of alienation.
Few of Bogayev's works other than The Russian National Postal Service have been produced in the English-speaking world. His play Maria's Field (Марьино поле) received its United States premiere in 2009 by the TUTA Theatre of Chicago. The play explores the fate of three 100-year-old women on a journey through a Russian forest, encountering figures from their own past and from 20th century Russian history. Bogaev relates that the story was inspired by his grandmother, Anafisa, and others like her whose husbands were declared "missing" during war and who still hoped for their return. He writes "The fate of men was easier than the fate of women. It is harder to wait than to die." Despite the tragic theme of the play, it is leavened by a "whimsical and wistful" tone and a "comical cow" accompanying the women on their journey.
Notable Productions of The Russian National Postal Service
|Date||Theatre||Director||Language (Translator)||Title as Produced||Note|
|June 1997||Lyubimovka Festival of Young Playwrights, Moscow||unknown||Russian (not in translation)||Русская народная почта (The Russian National Postal Service)||staged reading|
|Fall 1998||Tabakov Theater, Moscow||Kama Ginkas||Russian (not in translation)||Komnata Smekha (Room of Laughter)||World Premiere|
|May 2001||International Playwrights Festival, Royal Court Theatre, London||unknown||English (Tom Birchenough)||Russian National Post||Rehearsed reading|
|Fall 2001||Théâtre Espace Go, Montreal||Luce Pelletier||French (Fabrice Gex)||La Poste Populaire Russe (The Russian People's Post) |
|Fall 2004||Studio Theatre, Washington DC||Paul Mullins||English (John Freedman)||The Russian National Postal Service ||United States Premiere|
|Summer 2005||Sputnik Theatre Company, London||Noah Birksted-Breen||English (Noah Birksted-Breen)||The Russian National Mail||British premiere|
List of Selected Plays
- The Russian National Postal Service (aka Room of Laughter, The Russian People's Post), 1997
- Phallus Imitator (aka Falloimitator, Phallic Imitator)
- The Rubber Prince is a musical based on Phallus Imitator, 2003
- The Great Wall of China 
- Dead Ears, or A History of Toilette Paper 
- Maria's Field 
- Production photos of Russian People's Post as well as a video clip from a 1999 production at Triumviratus Art Group, Bulgaria
- Script for The Russian National Postal Service: A Room of Laughter for a Lonely Pensioner By Oleg Bogaev, Translated by John Freedman, as first produced in this translation at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., Sept.-Oct. 2004 (Microsoft Word format)
- "Spectacle 'La poste populaire russe'". Art Russe. 2 December 2004. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- Freedman, John (Winter–Spring 2007). "The Poetry of Excess: Nikolai Kolyada in Yekaterinburg". TheatreForum (30): 48–57.
- Ross, Yana (2006). "Russia's New Drama: From Togliati to Moscow" (PDF). Theater (Duke University Press) 36 (1): 36. doi:10.1215/01610775-36-1-27. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
- "Срочно! Николай Коляда ушел из журнала "Урал". Его тут же вызвали в минкульт, а Гредин встретился с преемником". 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
- Bogaev, Oleg (December 2008). "[Untitled letter to Luda Lopatina]". Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Engelman, Liz (15 December 2005). "Artist Exchange in Yekaterinburg". Russian Drama. Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
- Freedman, John (23 July 1998 (No. 1501)). "New Productions Failed to Break New Ground". Moscow Times. Check date values in:
- Freedman, John (30 April 2000). "At a Russian Festival, the Discussion's the Thing". New York Times. p. 38. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
- Freedman, John (6 November 1998). "Ginkas Works Magic on Tabakov". Moscow Times.
- Billington, Michael (29 August 2005). "Lenin meets the Queen at the Old Red Lion: Russian National Mail: Old Red Lion". The Guardian. p. 14.
- Jones, Alice (5 September 2005). "Russian National Mail, Old Red Lion, London". The Independent. p. 43. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
- Williams, Albert. "Maria's Field". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
- "Bogaev: Maria's Field". Chicago: TUTA Theatre. Retrieved 16 December 2008.[dead link]
- "International Playwrights 2001". Royal Court Theatre. London. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
- "Archives: Cycle Tchékhov". Théatre de l'Opsis.
- Blanchard, Jayne (17 September 2004). "Bogaev's voice fresh at Studio". Washington Times. pp. D08. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
- O'Mahony, John (25 October 2003). "Blasted Theory". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
- "Theater". Moscow Times. 31 October 2003. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
- Freedman, John. "Index of Russian Plays by Plays and by Author" (MICROSOFT WORD). Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of America. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
- Ross, Yana (18 October 2005). "Synopses of New Russian Drama" (MICROSOFT WORD). Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of America. p. 4. Retrieved 16 December 2008.