Chapter 1. Meta

Neptune: Scene 1, MC and Sailor Scouts. Photo by Roosa Oksaharju.

I was supposed to write a play about love. My love. I will call her M. M will stand for ‘memory’. A distorted memory. My memory of M is: beautiful, sassy, competitive, stubborn, African-American, Southern Belle.

I just threw a bunch of words at you, but I cannot truly describe her, nor speak her language. Her language is not my language, her country is not my country, her upbringing is not my upbringing. Don’t look for real M in my words. I’m not sure anyone has ever known real M, least of all me. But the memory of M will be here tonight, and I hope it will haunt you the same way it still haunts me.

I had a year to write this play. It was oh so neatly organized in my mind. A year 2022. 12 months, 12 chapters, 12 episodes, one per month. But M is not here anymore, and neither am I. And more importantly, love is not here.

So, I failed. The End.


This is the opening of my autobiographical play Neptune that I have been planning to write since 2021. It was supposed to be a play about love (queer love at that), or, more precisely, the inability to love. It was supposed to be personal, just a collection of memories. However, over the course of two years, it has transformed into something completely different.


In this chapter, I will describe the reasons that led me to Neptune’s creation and the reasons why I failed to write it in the way it was initially planned - what political and personal circumstances led me to completely change the structure, and, more importantly, the overall message of the play. This chapter describes my journey as a political artist and activist in search for answers to such questions as: What circumstances can evoke a creative desire to transform personal into political through art mediums? And to what extent performance art can be effective as a tool to convey political messages?


By writing it, I hope to give account of some historical and political events of recent years in Russia that shaped cultural and artistic scene in the country, influenced me as a dramaturge, and led to the creation of Neptune, my first queer play.



1.1 There is no political art in modern Russia.