Аннотация: Published by the Moscow Tribune, Aug. 1995
A jack of all trades, Gregory Nersesyan, juggles the roles of President of the American-Soviet Theatre Initiative (ASTI) and owner of the Bourbon and Beefstake cafe and bar among other Moscow business venues
Partons of the Bourbon and Beefstake cafe and bar, which opened two months ago in the House of Composers off Tverskaya Street , may be intrigued to learn that the owner, Gregory Nersesyan, is also the President of the American-Soviet Theatre Initiative (ASTI).
Established in 1987 as a joint venture between the Theatre Union of the USSR and the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut, ASTI was designed to facilitate various theatre projects and create a new line of communication between theatre professionals and theatre lovers of both countries.
For a long time, such communication had been restricted to official channels between the Soviet Ministry of Culture and various organizations in the United States.
"We wanted to give theatre professionals more oportunities to get together, to travel to each other's countries and to start projects of their own, as opposed to the officially approved projects originated inside the Ministry of Culture," says Nersesyan.
Since its inception ASTI has done over 150 cultural exchanges for playwrights, directors, actors, stage designers, students, professors, children and even theatre patrons.
ASTI has moved into education, sponsoring and managing a theatre school for American students at the Moscow Art Theatre.
The students have a unique experience of staying with Russian host families, who are themselves involved in the arts.
The youth visit museums, theatres, artists' studios, work with stage designers, sit in the rehearsals and spend evenings with their teachers and new friends. All of this helps to foster a greater appreciation of Russian culture and theatre inside the United States.
"Not that we convert them into Russians," laughs Nersesyan. "That was not the idea. We just thought there were certain elements missing in the American theatre education and the theatre school would help the students to expand their horizons and study Russian culture, which is so important in the field of theatre art."
ASTI also aides joint productions, some of which are biligual, an innovation in the theatre system.
Using both Russian and American actors, Vladimir Gubarev's The Brides of Chernobyl recently had its world premier in the United States during the National Playwrights' Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.
The play was performed both in English and in Russian, while audiences were helped by simultaneous translation.
"The actors not only speak different languages, but they have different acting techniques, different ways of moving around," Nersesyan said.
The Brides of Chernobyl is part of a major production called The Theatre Bomb, which ASTI is staging in the United States and Russia and is planning to take to Japan.
ASTI has also partnership with the Yale Repertory Theatre, the Los Angeles Theatre Center and other US theatre organizations.
An important idea of activism for ASTI is work with children. The group's American partner is the National Dance Institute, headed by the charismatic artist and dancer Jacques d'Amboise.
D'Amboise believes that only great artists can give unpriviledged children an idea of what art is all about and generously shares the experience he has accumulated over the 30 years as a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre.
In his efforts to promote the art of dance, d'Amboise is supported by major artists and musicians in the United States and all over the world, who help him to stage his famous Events of the Year, involvong up to 1,000 children - including many Russian children.
ASTI is also involved in minor projects, such as helping visitors from the United States get in touch with their peers in Russia, providing information about theatres and productions in both countries and helping people to find artists in the US and Russia who they would like to collaborate with in different productions.
The next major project - an adaptation of Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby in Russian - is scheduled for autumn. American director Elise Thoron will direct the play with the Russian cast at the Pushkin Theatre in Moscow.
Although one would think ASTI and The Bourbon and Beefstake would keep Nersesyan busy enough, he runs three other restaurants including the Tex-Mex la Cantina, the Hollywood and a fast food bistro in a red London double-decker bus, which he found in a Moscow dump, restored and turned into a cafeteria in 1993.
After a varied career, Nersesyan seems to have found fulfillment in the field of theatre. As for his restaurant business, he comments that, "It's fun and it is theatre: you're dealing with audiences and you have to put on an act."
Nersesyan, in conjunction with the Moscow Conservatory, has also opened a music store selling instruments as well as a fashion store.
"I have moved into various other businesses, sometimes successfully, sometimes not... but it's always interesting, it's exciting and it's life."