Yana Tumina

Director, professor of the department of puppet theatre acting and directing at RGISI, winner of the Russian National Theatre Award THE GOLDEN MASK (2017, Kolya’s Composition).

For 12 years Yana was actress, co-author, and director at AKHE Theatre. In 2009 she started to direct shows as an independent director, inviting to her team well-known actors and designers.

She collaborated with such St. Petersburg theatres as Theatre of Satire on Vasilyevsky Island, Bolshoi Puppet Theatre, Priyut Komedianta [Shelter of the Comedian], Bolshoi Drama Theatre named after G. Tovstonogov, KontArt producing center, Osobniak [Mansion], Theatre Za Chernoi Rechkoi [Theatre Behind the Black River]. Yana Tumina’s productions numerous times became nominees for and winners of prestigious theatre awards: THE GOLDEN MASK, THE GOLDEN SOFIT, Edinburgh Festival Award, Grand Prix of Mimos Mime & Physical Theatre Festival, etc.

Yana is a dynamic teacher, delivering masterclasses in Russia and abroad.

She is one of the few directors-puppeteers working in the direction of “social theatre” today, combining it with the experimental spirit of her creative searches and continuing to elaborate the poetic, imaginative nature of the language of puppet theatre and the theatre of objects.

The principal productions:

SINE LOCO — 2001, AKHE Russian Engineering Theatre, joint project with German actors for ARENA festival (Germany)

Faust 2360 words — 2006, AKHE Russian Engineering Theatre

Solesombra — 2007, Theatre of Satire on Vasilyevsky Island

POLVERONE (Sun dust) — 2012, Bolshoi Puppet Theatre

A Hundred Shades of Dark Blue — 2010, Bolshoi Puppet Theatre

The Other Sun — 2012, Khabarovsk Theatre for the Young Audience

The Barrier — 2015, KontArt producing center on the stage of Osobniak

The Ship of Exupery — 2016, Osobniak

Kolya’s Composition — 2016, KontArt producing center with the support of KukFo theatre

I Am Basho — 2016, Uppsala-Circus

“I do not like to involve children in theatre making, especially if that implies appearing on stage. It is unacceptable to use a child’s nature, his or her delicate state of mind to one’s advantage, all the more so as we are speaking about emotions and meanings. Here there is a risk of falling into exploitation of children’s nature. In this situation, circus is a saver, because it implies specific skills, crafts, actions. For me this is more understandable and attractive than theatre made by children. I feel more comfortable in the territory of children’s circus.”
Na Nevskom [On the Nevsky]
“I like conceptual theatre. Theatre, which on the intellectual level ploughs through the plot and structures it, works with the myth and allows interaction with the audience.”
Anastasia Pospelova, "St. Petersburg Theatre Magazine"
“Theatre is Tao, it is a path. If life unravels in such a way that I will once again drift from theatre, so be it. I do not hold anyone in front of my eyes, but I make secret dedications. I do not have a single production, which has not been dedicated to someone. However, I speak about that very rarely and only after the first night – I only tell that to the people who have worked on the production with me.”
"Na Nevskom" [On the Nevsky]
“It is not the object that makes theatre alive, but vice versa: theatre is the place where an object has a real opportunity to become alive. […] It is hard to imagine the audience, attentively observing a box of matches for more than several minutes, if this box ‘does not do anything.’ In theatre we are looking for movement and miracle, especially if we are talking about something, which is devoid of its own expression. Of course, the way how ‘alive’ abilities of a box or a piece of paper are unraveled largely depends on the actor. It is the actor, who is maximally close to everything that can emphasize the meaning, radiate with emotion, and reveal the mysteries.”
Anastasia Pospelova, "St. Petersburg Theatre Magazine"


Name: Tumina Yana Markovna

Date and place of birth: 27 April 1972, Leningrad

Education: As an undergraduate, I majored in acting and directing at SPbGATI (department of puppet theatre, workshop of Roman Winderman and Mikhail Khusid); that was followed with graduate studies at the department of acting and directing – at the same department.

Career: Since the age of 11, I studied at the experimental theatre school under the guidance of Zinovy Korogodsky.

At 17, I met Boris Ponizovsky and discovered his theatre DaNet [YesNo], where
I started working as an actress. My performance as Miss Julie (Rehearsals with Jean and Miss Julie, after August Strindberg’s play) received awards at several festivals (including the award of Bergman festival in Stockholm, 1994).

In 1996, actress Elena Yunger invited me to take part in the project Three Tall Women after Edward Albee’s play (translated by E. Yunger). The same year I started actively cooperating with the group of artists and designers Maxim Isaev and Pavel Semchenko (AKHE Engineering Theatre). Actress and co-author of virtually all of AKHE’s projects.

In 1998, I started teaching at SPbGATI, where I worked with master teachers Grigory Kozlov, Sergei Tcherkasski, taught in the class of Ruslan Kudashov, was master teacher for two groups of acting students (Kalmyk and Russian-Mongolian groups).

From 2009 until present – an independent director, working with major theatres of Petersburg, the author of a number of social theatre projects and productions.

Favorite authors, subjects, stories: Life, love, and death.

Favorite system of puppets/texture: Theatre of objects and jigging puppets.

Does a performance need text? It depends.

Is the expression “puppet theatre” still relevant today? No.

What, in your opinion, is the difference between puppet theatre in Russia and the West? It is hard to answer this question in the format of interview… let us just say – they intersect.

What is useful about collaboration and cultural exchange? Mutual enrichment.

Mass Media Feedback:

“With each new production, Yana Tumina reveals her specific theatrical stylistics, her theatre vision more and more distinctly. This is not just integration between objects and man, between genuine psychologism and the poetry of physical actions taking place in theatre space. Here, an actor makes a passage from usual psychological theatre to stylized theatre, where the means of expression are different and the story is composed according to different laws. In a certain aspect, this theatre has combined all of the experience, which the director gained in AKHE and puppet theatre. Here one may see the traits of Lithuanian metaphoric theatre – the multiplicity of symbolist and metaphoric layers. This theatre is, so to say, ‘above the barriers’.“

Elena Strogaleva

"St. Petersburg Theatre Magazine"

“Yana Tumina is capable of creating on stage not only the stories of people, but also the stories of objects; she discovers endless ludic qualities of magnets and strings, sheets of paper and women’s pumps.”

Olga Yegoshina

"Noviye Izvestiya"

“Yana Tumina has a gift of weaving the stage fabric seemingly out of nothing. Out of memories, shades, details. And the production is also light and weightless like air. It has no storyline, it consists of micro-scenes; it is built on associations and appeals to the audience’s memory. Certain scenes are directed in the style of ‘physical actions’ or ‘theatre of objects.’ It is hard to formulate ‘what the performance is about.’ However, when you see how the characters keep silent – smile – are surprised – sadly listen to someone on the phone… as it seems, you start understanding everything about them.”

Evgeny Avramenko

"St. Peterburgskiye Vedomosti"