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  • PUSSY RIOT:RIOT DAYS - An Activist Multimedia Experience

    PUSSY RIOT: RIOT DAYS

    Described by the international press as:

    • “New primal revolutionary electronic punk opera…”
    • “Powerful and exhilarating… poetic, razor-sharp and disarmingly witty…”
    • “Far from being a conventional gig, it is instead a hard-hitting, punk spirited and encapsulating piece of art theatre…”
    • “Stunning audio-visual experience…”
    • “The best punk rock show…”

    Riot Days showcases Pussy Riot’s innovative combination of live music, theatre, and video.

    The first Riot Days international tour commenced in the USA in March 2017. By May 2023, Pussy Riot was honored with the Woody Guthrie Prize and celebrated this achievement with a riveting performance of Riot Days in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now, a major North America tour beckons.

    About Pussy Riot:


    A Russian feminist protest and performance art group, they are best known for their provocative activist punk performances. On their name’s significance, they stated, “We called ourselves Pussy Riot because the first word denotes a sexist attitude towards women. Our ‘riot’ is our reply to that attitude.”

    Founded in 2011, the group gained global prominence after a performance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour led to the imprisonment of three of its members -  Maria (Masha) Alyokhina, Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina (Katya) Samutsevich.

    Some perceived their actions as too radical. Today, these perceptions are being re-evaluated, especially as the alliance between the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin’s Kremlin strengthens. It's becoming evident as Orthodox priests sanctify soldiers, tanks, and weaponry meant for the invasion of Ukraine.

    In February 2014, Masha, Nadya, and other members showcased as Pussy Riot during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Their performance was interrupted by Cossacks, serving as security, who assaulted them with whips and pepper spray.

    After prison, Masha and Nadya emerged as the most identifiable faces of Pussy Riot. Many affiliate the group with them. However, despite their shared history, various joint protest actions, and belonging to the same Pussy Riot political activist collective, their individual on-stage performances are distinct.


    Riot Days Project:

    Maria Alyokhina, along with music producer Alexander Cheparukhin, initiated Riot Days based on Alyokhina’s book. The show chronicles Alyokhina’s experiences with Pussy Riot, from their iconic protests to their court trials and prison sentences. The content evolves, reflecting current  events like political prosecutions and the Russian aggression against Ukraine. 

    With over 400 performances globally, “Riot Days” has garnered prestigious awards like the Herald Angel Award, Total Theatre Award of Edinburgh Festivals, the annual anti-fascist award in Germany, the Woody Guthrie Prize in the USA, and more. Just recently four ladies of Riot Days have got the honorary degrees of the Doctor of Letters of the University of Kent, and celebrated this with an impromptu performance in the historical Canterbury Cathedral. 

    Maria Alyokhina’s 1.5-year detention and house arrest in 2021-2022, for a single social media post supporting Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, exemplifies the climate. Despite these hurdles, she managed to escape Russia in May 2022, disguised as a food courier. Without her Russian passport, she still successfully crossed borders. This escape allowed “Riot Days” to spread its message globally, particularly in support of Ukraine. Significant part of the projects’ income goes to support Ukrainian Okhmatdyt children’s hospital and foundation. 

    Current “Riot Days” Team:

    • Maria (Masha) Alyokhina:
    • Role: Text author, voice.

    • Diana Burkot:
    • Role: Voice, electronic programming, keyboards, drums.
    • Bio: Moscow-born drummer, singer, and electronic musician. Founding member of Pussy Riot since 2011. Participated in the Punk Prayer in the Cathedral in 2012, but escaped arrest.


    • Olga Borisova:
    • Role: Voice.
    • Bio: Joined Pussy Riot in 2016. Former policewoman from St.Petersburg. Contributed to the Riot Days book as a creative editor and involved in various protest actions with Masha.


    • Alina Petrova:
    • Role: Electric violin, drums, keyboards, voice.
    • Bio: Recognized musician in Russia and Europe. Graduated from Moscow Tchaikovsky conservatory (viola). Participated in various experimental music projects (post-minimalism, electronic music, sound art, improvisational music etc) as a composer and instrumentalist 

     

    • Vasily Bogatov:
    • Role: Video.
    • Bio: Filmmaker and human rights activist. Created iconic Pussy Riot videos from 2011 to 2015 and responsible for all Riot Days video content.


    • Alexander Cheparukhin:
    • Role: Show producer, subtitles.
    • Bio: Festival and record producer. Initiated and coordinated the international musician support campaign for Pussy Riot in 2012. Conceptualized and co-produced the Riot Days show with Maria Alyokhina. 

     

    Press quotes: 

     

    New primal revolutionary electronic punk opera (The Sydney Morning Herald) 

     

    powerful and exhilarating...

    Alyokhina’s collaboration with music producer Alexander Cheparukhin and director Yury Muravitsky was full of fierce, rousing joy, free of scripted cues. ...

    poetic, razor-sharp and disarmingly witty... 

    I left blazing with hope...

    Riot Days convinced me that gigs still have the power to move the masses (The Guardian) 

     

    swaggering, throbbing gig by Pussy Riot… A ragged mix of performance art, poetry and bone-crunching trash-can tunes (The Times) 

     

    Far from being a conventional gig, it is instead a hard-hitting, punk spirited and encapsulating piece of art theatre …

     

    ...stunning audio-visual experience

     

    the best punk rock show of 2017

     

    Inventive, passionate, darkly funny in parts, twitching with energy and intelligent defiance and anger and yet full of compassion this is a moral tale for our times delivered with an intense brilliance.

     

    What I experienced was not what I expected and was also unlike any live show I have ever seen. And it was incredible.

     

    Part gig, part art show and part political demo this was certainly a riot for the eyes, the ears and the brain.

     

    Passion, revolution, and bold-ass rebellion – all these things the audience inhaled deeply, lighting a fire in their bellies and driving them out of their seats for a standing ovation.

     

    ...the most devastating political act, and the highlight of the festival..Transcendence, for those who truly dare, is an ongoing act of faith and courage 

     

    performance was – in every sense of the word – powerful… English subtitles and supporting images helped emphasise key moments of the story and added to the shows already strong dynamics..The performers clearly gave it their all, as if the weight of the story wasn’t enough to persuade you. Every action and movement was passionate and heartfelt…The whole show was a confronting and emotive force that barraged you for an hour. You felt what they felt at every turn.

  • SLOPPY JANE (SOLO)

    “A big part of the project and why I did it,” says Sloppy Jane’s Haley Dahl of her Saddest Factory debut Madison, “Was because it felt similar to being a little kid and buying an outfit that was too big that I'd have to grow into. I really valued from the start that making Madison gave me someone I had to become.” The record, which Dahl first conceived of back in late 2017, is a grand gesture, a statement about big love, and about growing into yourself in the process. 

     

    I met Dahl, who is now based in Los Angeles, for the first time in 2019 while working on a profile of her for Vogue Magazine. We went to a Ukranian diner, Odessa, which is in the East Village. She ordered oatmeal and I ordered a plate of fried pierogies. As we ate, Dahl shared that she was planning on going to West Virginia to record an album in the cave. The cave, she told me, came to her in the midst of a heartbreak so intense it completely gut renovated her life and her art. It took a year and a half to look for the right cave. Dahl and her co-producers, Al Nardo, Mika Lungulov-Klotz (visuals), and Jack Wetmore, went on multiple trips across the country. They lived in a freezing van, and would spend their days learning the ins and outs of playing and recording in them. They ended up in West Virginia, at a place called Lost World Caverns. 

     

    Dahl and her 21 bandmates recorded all of Madison there from 3pm to 8:30 am each day over the course of two weeks (they also made four music videos on location during this time). To access the space, they’d enter through the back of a gift shop, down a long tunnel where they’d walk down 200 feet of stairs to reach the entrance. Dahl and her bandmates did this steep walk with a piano. The ceiling of Lost World Caverns is massively high and is a perfect dome. The inside was also 98 percent humidity, leading to both stellar sound and also problems with tuning and gear. Engineer Ryan Howe sat in his parents Subaru above the cave with his mixing board and computer, and threaded cables down 90 feet through a hole in the ground to the ceiling of the cave. It’s the first time someone has ever recorded an entire album in a cave, and the results are pretty sonically stunning. That alone is a marvelous thing. Madison is an astounding, glorious record of melodrama of the highest order. 

     

    It’s been a long time in the making for Dahl, who has been performing as Sloppy Jane since she was a teenager. In those days, Sloppy Jane was a three-piece punk band. Its earliest members were Phoebe Bridgers on bass, Sarah Cath on guitar, and Imogen Teasley-Vlautin on drums. Now the band has over a dozen members, and has transformed into a chamber pop project. Dahl also learned so much as a musician: on Madison, she learned how to write for chamber instruments and taught herself the piano. The record is difficult to categorize. It’s David Bowie but also when the song “Crying,” by Roy Orbison plays at the end of Harmony Korine’s Gummo. It’s My Chemical Romance meets Sgt. Pepper. Courtney Love and Queen. The record is a huge, flowery, velvety thing full of toy horses and stalagmites. It follows one major throughline: a grand gesture so large that it moves the whole Earth. 

     

    Madison is a record with an audience for one. Each song is an attempt at a perfect goodbye to someone. It is also a record that examines fantasy relationships. “It’s like when you have something that lives mostly in your head: you can’t break up with someone that you don’t even speak to who you don’t have a relationship with. It’s this world that starts to live and fester in your head,” says Dahl of the record’s conceptual underpinnings. The last line on the huge ballad “Party Anthem,” is “It never happened/It never ends.” On “Lullaby Formica,” and “Jesus and Your Living Room floor,” horses evoke both childhood and also the early stages of love. “The Constable,” is the record’s biggest, and also longest song. There are horns, layers of vocal harmonies, and percussion that grows larger and more cavernous with the cave as a backdrop. At the end, there’s snippets of people counting down to the new year, a sound that Dahl got by having people repeat phrase particles over and over as they slowly walked out of the cave. That’s one of the most lovely things about Madison: the cave is an instrument. It is completely and totally integral to the record’s architecture. 

     

    The cave represents the concept of forever for Dahl. She tells me that caves take millions of years to grow, and they grow in total darkness. She shares that stalactites and stalagmites form at a rate of 120 years per cubic centimeter; if you touch them with your hands they stop growing completely. Love, in Dahl eyes, is similar. Immortal but not invincible. It is something that you nurture, something that grows slow. The atmosphere on Madison is that of slowness and stillness. It paints love as a complicated and fraught IV drip. Madison is a record about doing things the hard way. It doesn’t put a bow on anything. It doesn’t take the easy way out. It’s something Dahl had to grow into, to become.