Auntie Mame Penza, Russia 1995

Life’s banquet, in its Russian premiere.

Mame Nora Young PatrickIn the Russian/English dictionary the English word “sophisticated” is defined in Russian as “perverted.” Let that stand for the difficulties of translating Auntie Mame into Russian, done admirably by Lyuba Filimonovna of Samara.

What did the audience make of it?

Oh, they admired Mame, audibly cooed over her clothes and enjoyed her indestructibility. They laughed at the stuck-up debutante and at the overly formal banker.

It was the dowdy stenographer, Gooch, who they loved, Gooch who was the audience’s bridge, their representative to this loud fast very American world. She too, like them, climbing doubtfully up the Art Deco stairs.






It’s small, but Penza appears twice in Russian theatre history. It’s the birth place of the great director Meyerhold. There’s a Meyerhold Museum in town. The town boasts the second oldest theater company in Russia, more than 200 years old. The first actors were serfs.