Siege Inspires Youthful Ambition Decades Later
Published: January 22, 2014 (Issue # 1794)
Every year, to help commemorate the anniversary of the Siege of Leningrad, local theater group Hailing From the Blockade organizes a series of free charity concerts dedicated to the blockade. This year, in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the Siege, the popular concerts will be on again from Jan. 26-30 at various locations around the city
Recognized with an entry in the Golden Book of St. Petersburg, the highest honor given as recognition for contributions made to the city and its citizens, the theater group has been running the annual charity events since 1995. Its members include those who personally experienced the blockade as well as their children and grandchildren and, in some cases, even their great-grandchildren.
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At 23, George Novitsky is one of the youngest performers with the group whose grandparents lived through the siege. Novitsky is now also the same age his grandfather was when the siege began in 1941. His grandmother was only 11.
“Both of my grandparents did what they could during the blockade. My grandmother, for example, helped the wounded while my grandfather, who worked at Kirovsky Zavod, was also part of Leningrad’s Home Guard Infantry Division, which helped bring down the blockade,” said Novitsky.
The influence of his grandparents’ experiences has also helped prepare Novitsky to perform in the group, which he joined seven years ago.
“We used to have a lot of conversations about the war [both grandparents have since passed away] and the siege itself, but it was never for the sake of idle chit-chat. When they spoke, you got a sense that they were sharing something hidden and sacred. The way they told all these terrible stories in such a calm manner, with such a strength and courage in their voices — of course it had a profound impact on us, giving us insight into what it was like during those times,” said Novitsky.
“I think that today, more and more people are recognizing the war and honoring its memory. We are starting to see more and more young people in our audience, which makes us very happy. The number of veterans is growing smaller every year in both our group and the audience and so in this way we can show them that we, the young generation, remember and honor their memory and spirit,” he said.
In addition to performing with Hailing from the Blockade, Novitsky has also performed with the Theater of Musical Comedy. For his performance as Alfred in the musical “Dance of the Vampires,” he received a nomination in the Best Actor category for a Golden Mask — the Russian National Theater Awards — in 2013.
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Having studied overseas and with plans this year to perform a solo act, it is Novitsky’s love and appreciation for what was sacrificed in St. Petersburg that keeps him in the city. “You may not believe this but when I was away in Italy for a year doing a traineeship, I dreamt of Nevsky Prospekt every single night,” he said.
“St. Petersburg has this inexplicable attraction. It is truly an amazing city; enchanting and miraculous!”
Hailing From the Blockade will be performing from Jan. 26-30. Check www.finzal.ru for more details