"Peter Shed" – the first and only Russian theater, all the actors who – adults and children with congenital disabilities. Despite the fact that he had already gained fame in Europe, in his native Saint Petersburg, he does not have his roomI and the authorities were slow to help.
Despite the fact that the successful and popular projects aimed at supporting disabled people exist in Russia and even receive a great sum of money,"Peter Shed" huddled in the center for youth development "Outpost" where theatre is just one small room, and the opportunity to rehearse on the stage only has limited hours of operation. As in any other theater, the troupe is limited to 40 people, and many people stand in a queue in the waiting list to get into it. I was born this amazing creative project? Photographer and documentary filmmaker Dmitry Ermakov talked with its Creator and chief Director Irina Rogaleva.
– How did it happen that in Europe, you know more than at home?
Irina Rogaleva: In Europe, we for the first time was almost by accident, accepting the invitation in 2011 [to come] to the festival in Turku (Finland). To be honest, our level was very good in the other, and it was not just my opinion: we are told to do. Although went still at his own expense, and financial this trip didn’t get us anything, but the goal is to earn and then stood.
But I understood that I need to move on, to go to Europe wider. And how to do it? While thinking, I wrote from the organization Caravan 2000, they are based in Germany and operating throughout Europe, doing various projects related to persons with disabilities. I went, met with them, then it seems like the silence… And suddenly a couple of years ago a call from Germany, thanks "Caravan": "Irina, we are interested in your theatre".
Every may I do a small festival for these children, however, at a very basic level. The Germans arrived, looked a long time walking around and eventually said: "Irina, we want you to do a theater project for two years". Colleagues introduced us with the city of Oberursel in Germany, where everything is based.
They are all still in the initial stage, we were 20 years ago. The Germans invited all of our staff, so we trained them to work with children with disabilities. The project begins July 1, 2018, and are very pleased that these things happen – but it is strange that the Germans give money, and no Russian.
– And how it all began 20 years ago? What were the difficulties?
Irina Rogaleva: In fact, it took even more than 20 years. In the 90 years I became involved in the Association of patients with hydrocephalus – this means that guys life in a wheelchair – and I felt that they need some kind of social rehabilitation. But not only through medicine, I went on the other side.
On stage you can play different stories, with which people can face in life. I am surprised that they are all very different with different disorders, but how well they are plastic, I wonder how they fantasize! All my guys are very talented.
And so, despite the fact that it was heavy in the 90s, there were programs of state support of disabled children, I got involved, was to take the children to summer camp, and then created a small Studio-theatre. Children in the troupe then came a bit, but in St. Petersburg was no more – and no such theaters for them, and I suddenly got a call from the British Embassy.
It turns out that in London there is a theatre Chickenshed [that is "coop" or "shed for chickens"], who also works with children with disabilities, although, unlike us, there is and healthy. Chickenshed has signed a contract with us, as interested in our experience, we have impressed them. And under the terms of the contract that they are not us, and we taught them, in fact, of course, the process was mutual.
We went to London, where they have already had their own residence, presented to Princess Diana – and we were looking for a roof over my head. And to conclude the contract with the British there, it took the official name, so there "Peter Shed" – everyone liked it. The first of September of 2018 we will celebrate 15 years.
– Why did you start this Association in the 90 years that led you to this?
Irina Rogaleva: My son has a diagnosis of Spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Almost all children with this disease are sitting in wheelchairs.
In 1990-e years I became the Deputy of the Kirov regional Council of people’s deputies of St. Petersburg and was able to say loudly that there are children with disabilities who are not in boarding schools and at home. To tell about how they live.
In that time I have helped people to create non-governmental organizations, who have been working in the field of social assistance to the disabled. And in 1992 created and your organization "The right to life". We are engaged in Advisory assistance to parents, assistance with urgent operations in St. Petersburg and the social rehabilitation of young people with disorders of the spine.
Our organization is called "Regional public organization of disabled children and disabled children with spinal cord lesions "Association for Spina bifida and hydrocephalus". It is the only organization in Russia, we are a member of the world Federation for Spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
– And now at the theater with a roof over your head?
Irina Rogaleva: Right now I’m writing a letter to Putin, because other authorities have been unable to help us with this roof. The situation is the following. For several years we are in "Outpost" but the number of hours we have a very limited, and wanting to get to the theatre a lot, and we do not enough time. It is not easy: I’m even getting sick are not entitled to, we are given only 2 days a week.
We began to look for an alternative. Recently, the Governor of St. Petersburg gave us a room that fits perfectly under the creative workshops – but doesn’t fit the theatre. The building is nice, three-storey, but the scene is not there (and not attach). At first I didn’t even want to take it. After all, theatre should be theatre.
The building where the theatre has a rehearsal room
I told this to Smolny [the official residence of the Governor of St. Petersburg] and they say: well, find another nearby building that fits the scene or the theatre, and, perhaps, then both buildings will be for you.
I found the building, and next to the subway – otherwise children will not work. Already 25-30 years it is shrouded. The response from the Governor: do repair for extra-budgetary funds. Tools we have, although we are constantly served on various subsidies and grants.
And while I was trying to figure out, including through the office of the Prime Minister Medvedev, whose house, with whom to negotiate until the government answered me, building someone sold. And it turned out that it is a monument of Federal importance, as it can be sold?
It is strange that these structures, in theory, was supposed somehow to help us, it is their direct work, but there you have a completely different world. So I hope Putin. Maybe his team is faster.
And while we "Outpost" until then, until I find a room where we can go.
– How will you help the President? Get you building, and what do you do next?
Irina Rogaleva: We are at least building to, and then you can set higher goals. For example, in Moscow create an inclusive house of the arts for all persons with disabilities, and not somewhere, and on the basis of the cinema "Drummer"… and in St. Petersburg-the fact that disabled made? Although it is here, in the cultural capital, these things must happen first.
In Bashkiria, for example, a house exists already since 1973, the year has regional importance and is located on government funding. I think maybe you should create a regional Association?
For example, Lena Lozko with the project "Dance on wheels" created the Association and got an audience with Putin. And "Upsala-circus" [nonprofit organization, which is engaged in social adaptation of street children and adolescents with the method of circus pedagogy] brought themselves to self-sufficiency, but they, most likely, was the initial capital, and the territory allegedly granted to the friendly company.
Or take another country, England, and Chickenshed, who helped Princess Diana. To her they are also constantly changed the room, looking for shelter in churches.
No country in the world, such a project will not be able to earn money without having particular external support.
– The extent to which the project is your personal? If the theater will receive funding, you will change your role?
Irina Rogaleva: Now I do, and directing, and administrative tasks. But initially I was more of an administrator and a generator of ideas. Education in directing, I have a second degree, I got it in 2007. I have medical education – I am a nurse, took two-year courses: realized that I should be able to talk with doctors in their language.
But in the case of serious funding, the theatre requires a team of professionals who fully understand why we do so, and not otherwise.
I want a theatre with professionals: choreographers, managers and so on, and she gradually depart from Affairs. "Peter Shed" in view of the circumstances is a project of Irina Rogaleva, but not Irina rogaleva. I’m not eternal, and to live.
– How did you manage to support the theater and learn at the same time?
Irina Rogaleva: There was no choice, because without specialized knowledge to fully engage in such projects impossible. So in 1997 I enrolled in two-year courses in St. Petersburg state University, Department of basics of medicine. But, despite the fact that this is one of the main universities in the city and the country, any difficulties with the receipt I have not experienced.
Then when I gathered children in wheelchairs and began to teach the basics of puppet theatre, thought, and suddenly doing something wrong, and suddenly not only teach, but can spoil everything? Because here the use of the voice, and changing, and fine motor skills and more.
And yet it seemed to me that the guys are shy to go on stage and behind the screen not so bad. Thinking about the Director’s education, and then funny story happened.
Grew my second son, need to go to College. We chose the Institute of culture and art. There I was talking with a teacher: can I read library books on directing? And he said to me, do to us.
I was very surprised at my age (at the time I was 48 years). And entered on the General bases in the correspondence Department. So I became a student. He studied easily and with interest because I understood that the classes of theatrical creativity can be a powerful rehabilitation for children, adolescents and young adults with disabilities.
– Why do you need it all in the end?
Irina Rogaleva: I’m just doing what is being done. A mission that’s what guys should be disclosed not only on stage but also outside it – to such an extent as ordinary people live.
Not just the same as we play, not just the same as this energy goes out here. I want the viewer thinking: we have feet and hands, and if these are the guys doing it, maybe I misunderstood something?
I’m constantly surprised. What are the strengths and opportunities hidden in the children with down syndrome, autism! On stage we always start rehearsals with improvisation, and there can be magical things. Things that increase their self-esteem.
Sometimes I ask them a theme, idea. For example, ecology. Or space: think of alien plants, which you have never seen. And one also has to show!
From collective improvisations out some room, and besides, all the actors maximize turn on their verbal capabilities. It is clear that there are children who are not very fixed role, and the official premiere of the play in a different way, but they are even more expanded – and the audience still interesting and understandable.
– Your pupils give you the strength to move on?
Irina Rogaleva: Of course, how else? These 15 years have flown by as one day. But I can see how guys become different. And this is the most interesting for me. I’m not a doctor, I’m not going. And the guys are changing. Yes, but not fast. For each need their time. Need a lot of patience, and the goal for each child is achieved. Still working and surprise!
For example, the girl Anya with down syndrome. Came to us in 15 years. She’s not talking. Inside a mere child. But what her inner reserves! She began to imitate all the characters, she began to understand what he is doing, to understand the tasks that I give her. She is very talented. Her mother noted already in the second year of a significant change in Anna. She became calmer, began to help around the house. Homework. Internally increases. She became very sociable. This year she turns 19 years old.
Or, for example, Sasha. He had autism and cerebral palsy. Sasha in the theatre for 15 years. He’s a very private young man. Was. Now he’s trying to lead other guys on stage. And all listen to him. In the beginning he didn’t even speak. Always looked at the floor. But then… When he starts to tell something is happening emotionally with gestures… And what he at this time eyes…
When I see it, you feel such happiness! Of course, I can tell you about every actor of our special theater very much. Every change for the better, every happy face of my clients gives me immense strength and confidence that I’m doing everything right.
– Than you are proud of and regret?
Irina Rogaleva: Maybe it’s pathetic, but I can say that "Peter Shed" – my life, my happiness.
I am proud to have made this theatre and we are all together prove to ordinary people that disability is not a barrier to play in the theater, show your creativity, your face. Lacks only one thing. Building for a theatre.
My only regret is that not enough life time. Time in order to cultivate successors to work in the theater.
Dmitry Ermakov – fautograph and documentary filmmaker. His account in "Instagrame" @kerooakc
Sergey Nikolaev – reportage and documentary photographer from St. Petersburg, it account "Instagrame" @shesheru