“By the way, I’ve never been there… back home, I mean”, Russian actress Natalia Vasiluk sighs, sips dark coffee, and looks through the window of her small house at north-south of Vancouver where she lives with her two sons. It’s been 20 years since Vasiluk left the USSR. Canada is her country now. Her mom and sister live in Toronto.

Back in the USSR Vasiluk was an actress in the progressive and quite radical Moscow Theatre “Igroky” (Players) – this theatre isn’t just a part of her resume. “Igroky” played her life in a quite dramatic way.

I assume, the name “Igroky” might sound familiar: in 1991 they performed the Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in a few Canadian cities during a Fringe festival.

youtube.com/watch?v=uqYzeMZFs0k

Moscow theatre Igroky, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, Saskatoon, 1991, SarkisovR channel

At that time the artists were in Saskatoon. The other day the troupe came to their hotel room, turned TV on and saw the tanks on the Moscow streets. The USSR was about to collapse. Being far away from the country, artists got confused what to do. After long and emotional discussion the troupe decided to go back but six actors and actresses stayed in Canada. They claimed a refugee status. Within those six was Vasiluk’s husband Raoul Ganeev.

A couple of years Vasiluk and Ganeev lived apart but in 1993 Vasiluk arrived in Canada. Here she met her husband and her colleagues: Alexander Kalugin, Tatyana Sazonova, Evgenia Smirnova and Larisa Selezneva struggling to find themselves in a new world. Lack of roles and as a result lack of enough money, made some of them give up acting career and find any other job that can feed them. I asked them several times to tell their stories but they rejected because they “don’t want to talk about past”.

Even though most of the artists gave up acting, they met again in 2005 in Alexander Kalugin’s TV series called “Steklo” (Glass) about three Russian security agents looking for a terrorist in North America. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to find this movie in a movie rentals - Kalugin couldn’t sell it to any broadcaster.

About three years ago Kalugin and Ganeev left Canada – both of them playing in Russian movies and TV series. However, Sazonova, Smirnova, Selezneva and Vasiluk are still here in Vancouver.

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