Blackfriars on the road to Russia with ‘Abundance’

Blackfriars Theater has become a road show, and it’s a long road.

The company will leave July 19 for a 6,100-mile journey to Far Eastern Russia , where it will become the first U.S. arts group to perform in that area.

Blackfriars will perform Beth Henley’s “Abundance” in Vladivostok, San Diego’s Russian sister city, and Khabarovsk, in Siberia. Henley will join the group in Vladivostok on July 26.

Henley’s journey will be underwritten by the United States Information Agency , which also has granted Blackfriars $ 5,000 for the trip.

The playwright will hold seminars at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern State University, and will meet with Russian theater professionals.

Frontier saga

Blackfriars performed an acclaimed local production of “Abundance,” which centers on the lives of two mail-order brides in the late-1800s West, in fall 1991.

The company will hold an open dress rehearsal of the new version July 17 on the U. of San Diego campus. The play was picked because of its parallels to the history of settlement in Far Eastern Russia.

Hosting Blackfriars will be the Maxim Gorky Theater — Vladivostok’s primary company with two houses — and the Primorskii regional government.

In Vladivostok, Blackfriars will also perform Romulus Linney’s one-acter “Akhmatova,” a tribute to Russian poet Anna Akhmatova.

No home base

Ironically, Blackfriars remains without a permanent home here. The company was evicted in January when a new owner took over the downtown hotel that housed its 80-seat theater.

During the first San Diego-Vladivostok sister city delegation meetings in 1991, Blackfriars was invited to perform in Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.

The company accepted the invitation and started raising funds, projecting a budget of $ 50,000. In addition to that from USIA, major grants came from the Intl. Theater Institute and the Trust for Mutual Understanding ($ 15,000).

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