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Siege Inspires Youthful Ambition Decades Later

Published: January 22, 2014 (Issue # 1794)



  • Having lived through the siege, Novitsky's grandparents and their experience has help Novitsky prepare for his role.
    Photo: For SPT

  • Novitsky received a nomination in the Best Actor category for a Golden Mask for his performance as Alfred in the musical Dance of the Vampires.
    Photo: For SPT

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.

You may also be interested in: City Remembers Siege of Leningrad

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 Leningrads 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.

You may also be interested in: Give Employees a Day Off for Siege Anniversary, says St. Petersburg Governor

Having studied overseas and with plans this year to perform a solo act, it is Novitskys 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





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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