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at the Festival of Mongolian Language Theatres
in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia

The Opening Ceremonies
October 7, 2001

Virlana in front of the banner
that announced the shows of the festival
including "Toyrog," or "Circle" in Mongolian

Yara Arts Group is proud to be the first theatre from America to be invited to take part in the Festival of Mongolian Language Theatres.

Yara is a resident company at the internationally renowned La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. We at La MaMa believe in making theatre that speaks to the world, so that people who live in any country of the world, or who are blind or deaf can understand our work. Yara creates original theatre pieces based on traditional material and ancient song that we collect on research expeditions.

Virlana with woman holding sign that says USA in Mongolian

The cast of "Circle" at the opening ceremonies. Note the American flag in right corner.

Since 1996 we have been working with Buryat artists Sayan and Erzhena Zhambalov and have created four original theatre pieces with them. Circle is based on the songs and ghost stories of western Buryatia that we collected in 1999. We are grateful to all the elders, grandmothers and shamans who shared their music and stories with us.

Sayan and Virlana enter the auditorium for the opening representing the USA and speaking

The actors of Yara were very excited about coming to work again with the Buryat Actors Studio with whom we first worked with in 1998. Our joint rehearsals were to take place mid-September.

A few days before we watched in horror as the World Trade Center collapsed. Our theatre stands in the shadow of the twin towers and our artists could not come in time for the rehearsals. I am very grateful to our Buryat colleagues for bringing our work here so that you can see what our American and Buryat artists created together.

-- Virlana's speech at the Festival's Opening Ceremonies October 7, 2001

Photos by Alexander Khantaev.

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