After a two-year hiatus, the Corvallis Russian Troupe is returning on Friday and Saturday with two performances of "Yo-Moyo," a Russian language comedy by contemporary playwright Olga Stepnova.
Vreneli Farber, a retired Oregon State University professor who taught Russian language and culture, is directing the play. The plot follows anthropologist Mikhail Gorokhov, who's spent his life on expeditions in pursuit of the Abominable Snowman or Yeti. When the Yeti, called Yo-moyo by Mikhail's mother, actually shows up at Gorokhov's house, complications ensue — but not everything is as it seems.
The play will be performed in Russian, as is the troupe's practice, but Farber has prepared an English-language synopsis that will be handed out before each performance. And, she noted, the play's broader comedic moments require no translation.
The play explores themes of reality and fantasy, Farber said, and also deals with the power of myths in our lives.
Farber has been directing these productions for more than 20 years and said they have their genesis in a class assignment, in which she asked her students to write and perform short plays in Russian. As word spread among the mid-valley's Russian community about the class assignment, however, Farber sensed an appetite for productions written by Russians with a stronger sense of the country's language and culture.
Past productions have ranged from classics to contemporary works, but they tend to be comedies, because those translate a little better to English-language audiences.
Ticket proceeds help to offset production costs. In this case, Stepnova allowed the troupe to perform the show without asking for royalties, but that doesn't mean the show didn't require a budget: "The Yeti costume was expensive to construct," Farber said.