The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

About dill, theater and hypocrisy: what struck an American in Russia


Source: Billboard Daily

American Jordan Fry has a piercing gaze and amazing clarity of thought. She loves the Russian theater, the Moscow churches and girls outfits, but hypocrisy and moralizing is not. On this and other differences between the Russian and American mentality - in its monologue for "Posters Daily».

Jordan Fry

Where did you come from: New York, USA
What it does: actress in the Center. Meyerhold plays in the Kefal Sauce group

Through acquaintances I learned about the Moscow Art Theater program for foreigners. Then for the first time I came to Moscow for three months - I was 18. She returned to the United States, but immediately realized that I could not live without a Russian theater. Our theaters are tightly connected with money, directors receive funding only for what pays off, and people go mainly to musicals. American theater has become entertainment, not art. You have more variety, and acting skills are taught much deeper. So I realized that I could not live without Moscow, met the right people and learned how to go to study with Ryzhakov.

At first, I barely spoke Russian, but in the three-month course it was not particularly necessary. We were helped by translators, and I knew how to say “hello” and “chicken” in the dining room. The words "fish" and "beef" I could not remember, so I had to endlessly eat chicken. Those three months seemed to me a pleasant safe adventure: the Americans lived in the dormitory, everyone spoke in English. Of course, when you went out into the street, you would find yourself in Russia, but all the same, then you would return home and supposedly get back to your native America. But when I went to study at the Moscow Art Theater, I ended up in real Russia, and it was wildly hard. So always with immigrants - the first time you feel incredibly lonely.

The words "fish" and "beef" I could not remember, so I had to endlessly eat chicken.

I then went to church very often. You have to understand that I grew up as an atheist, and my parents were never religious. Just for some reason I felt good when I went to the temple. Petrovka has a small monastery with a beautiful garden - I liked to sit there. Sometimes grandmothers said something to me in an unfamiliar language. I put a scarf on my head, so as not to arouse suspicion, behaved carefully, and usually no one noticed that I was a spy.

Five years ago, everything in Moscow looked different. Now the government seems to want people to feel the taste of life - the city is being rebuilt with all these bicycles, places for walking. They are trying to make it look like Europe. Five years ago, the streets were pretty dirty; I do not miss them, although it is sad that the whole world becomes the same.

On the other hand, one circumstance still surprises me. In America, everyone pays a lot of attention to the city, to the sidewalks and benches, but they themselves look awful - they don't look after themselves, they don’t dress well. And in Moscow - on the contrary: people are ready to walk around eerie entrances and broken courtyards, while Prada and Gucci themselves wear it. You are very fashionable.

I often ask myself a question, looking at Muscovites: oh well, is it really convenient? You really adore this style with red lipsticks and leopard fur coats. I really like bright people: I don’t think we would be friends with these girls, but it’s interesting to look at them.

At first I was surprised how you drive a car: as if there were no rules at all. Although in the end I liked the fact that in Russia there is no such pressure of laws. You can say that this is corruption, but as if we don’t have it! We just time about it all the time. Maybe I seem naive, but I like how honestly people talk about dishonesty - it’s more convenient to live.

Here's an example: I recently ran away from a policeman in Moscow, and in America I would never have thought of that. It was like this: the transition to Tverskaya was closed, and I had a very important meeting, and I decided to wait for the cars to become smaller, to run across from above. On the other hand, too, people stood, looked at the road and, apparently, planned the same thing. But there was a policeman standing by who threatened me. I gestured for forgiveness and explained that I had no time. Then he began to be angry and terrible, like in the movies, he went to me. Almost came up already, but then the cars stopped and I ran. He, of course, did not chase me.

I understand that disobeying a cop is bad. On the other hand, if I want to run in front of cars, then this is my business. We live in a society where we are heavily controlled. It annoys me that I cannot think and make decisions for myself.

In Moscow, I began to drink tea. Dill was in all food plus parsley: we can say that greens are the taste of Russia. Your food is very heavy. I remember how I was surprised by your salads. In America, lettuce is leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers, and for some reason yours necessarily contains meat and potatoes. In the second year my friend and I decided to cook dinner, and I wanted a salad. I crumbled leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers. My Russian boyfriend came and asked if I was going to add mayonnaise there - these are our different concepts.

We went on tour everywhere: I was in Vladivostok, I saw Baikal, Krasnodar, Khabarovsk. It seems, even traveled more in Russia than in America. Your country is very beautiful, there are excellent cities, there are also depressive ones. For me it is important that the buildings are clean - in the outback it is a great rarity, and it is interesting that the condition of the houses is not related to whether there is money in the city or not. In some places, of course, poverty is strongly felt, and people drink too much. So everywhere happens where there is no work around the world. We were in Ust-Labinsk, and he reminded me of American cities, where they drink from boredom, ride the streets to the music and are angry with the whole world.

In America, everyone sees a glass half full - in Russia it always seems empty. We all believe that democracy has completely won. And you calmly behave in situations that in the United States would be regarded as the end of the world. In the Moscow Art Theater when teachers tell us that everything, they say, is a misfortune, it’s time to drop out of school and do something else, I understand that this is the most positive thing that a Russian teacher can tell you. You have an incredible acting school - there is no such quality in America. I can go to Russian performances, see that something is done better or better, but still there is a feeling that the wizard worked here. At American performances I am haunted by the feeling that the actors do not always understand what they are doing on stage.

It is a pity that in Russia people pay so little attention to what is happening inside - the Americans only talk about their inner life. Everybody has problems - depression, alcoholism, anorexia - and for you this seems to be non-existent. Everyone is being treated endlessly, taking some kind of powders and pills, but going to a psychologist is considered shameful. If you do this, you are considered crazy.

Funny story: once through friends I met a woman psychologist. She offered to go to her reception, and the first session was normal. At the second stage, it was about a bed: I hinted to her that I sometimes meet people whom I do not plan to marry. After that, something happened to her: she began to shout, to say that this is why my relationship does not work. That I am looking for answers in bed, that it is impossible, that if I continue in this spirit, she will not help me.

It was wildly strange: I thought that you could turn to a psychologist at any time, even if you killed someone. A Russian psychologist called me a whore. I cried in the subway.

Your bed is, of course, taboo. Women wear scarves and a long braid, pretending that the body does not exist. In this case, of course, all fuck. I feel sorry for modern girls: they live in the present, but they are taught that they should live differently. In Russia, it is generally accepted to keep thoughts to yourself: at work, no one tells how he quarreled with his mother. Americans, on the contrary, are a little exhibitionists. In New York, for example, on the street you can hear how their partners are discussing. I think one of the achievements of the sexual revolution and feminism was the opportunity to talk about making love, about your body, discuss the monthly. This is an important women's right. But I don’t always like it when people talk about all this.

Why tell everyone around about family quarrels, to explain with whom and how do you sleep? But I would never allow me to condemn me for the way I build my personal life.

Somehow in the first year after the performance I was presented with two roses. I went to the store, and a man in the queue asked what happened. The whole line - ten people - began to explain to me, interrupting each other that two roses were given when someone died. In New York, it is impossible to imagine such a situation: if ten people were gathered in one little shop, half of them would be foreigners, a quarter would not speak English. In any case, they all would have a different culture.

In New York, my mother lives in Harlem. There, on the streets you can often see people from Africa - in turbans and wide dresses. They are not shy about their appearance: every second person has recently moved to New York. This sensation is badly lacking in Moscow. It seems to me that with him you would be easier to treat the difference between people. Sometimes Russians seem so naive that they cannot realize one simple fact - not everything that matters to you is important to everyone.

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