Autofiction play by Alexej Lochmann

Self-Portrait Between Steppe and Forest

Deutsches Theater Berlin, 2024
Director •• Nikita Betekhtin
Set and Costume Design •• Ramona Hufler
Dramaturgy •• Karla Mäder
Assistant Director and
Dramaturgy Assistant  •• Lara Bruckschen

"Self-Portrait Between Steppe and Forest" is a deeply personal project presented by Alexej Lochmann as part of the unique Freiboxen format at Deutsches Theater Berlin. This format allows ensemble members to introduce personal projects, characterized by short preparation times, surprising content, and aesthetic diversity. Lochmann’s story is especially poignant given current political events.

Born in Qaranghandy, Kazakhstan, and raised in 1990s Hamburg, Alexej Lochmann's family is a blend of Russian-German and Ukrainian-Russian heritage. His family had to constantly reinvent themselves, moving from place to place, bringing pieces of their old home to each new location. This performance explores the dispersal of a family across different countries and ideologies, the events that caused their migrations, and their cultural peculiarities. – How many trees does it take to turn a steppe into a forest?

For the Freiboxen evening, director Nikita Betekhtin brings a unique Russian-developed method: "laboratory productions" where young directors explore their storytelling abilities with minimal resources, short rehearsal times, but full theater support. This innovative approach aligns perfectly with the spirit of Freiboxen, emphasizing creativity and resourcefulness.
by Anton Chekhov

The Cherry Orchard

Satu Mare, Teatrul de Nord, 2024
Translation and Stage Version •• Raluca Rădulescu
Director •• Nikita Betekhtin
Set and Costumes •• MO-LU
Set Design Assistant •• Cristian Gătina
Video Design •• Mihail Zaikanov
Dramaturgy Assistant •• Codruța Cadar

"The Cherry Orchard" is one of the most frequently performed plays by Anton Chekhov. As the last play written by the great Russian author before his untimely death, it was first staged 120 years ago in Moscow and has since been translated into dozens of languages and performed in numerous countries. Chekhov described the text as a comedy, a satire on human nature and destiny. It tells the classic story of the illusion of love and the mistakes of youth, of lives wasted in search of an answer to the belated question "What if?"

In our rendition at Teatrul de Nord, the last 20 minutes Chekhov leaves for farewells have been visualized as a gigantic timer counting down on stage—a poignant reminder of the inevitable. These 20 minutes encapsulate everything: a final goodbye to the scent of patchouli, to the room so beloved by their mother, to the garden still haunted by the ghosts of memories. It’s about saying farewell to the hope of happiness, of escaping together from this hell. Just 20 minutes to find one's galoshes and gather belongings.

Nikita Betekhtin's production invites the audience not only to observe the passions and struggles of the characters but also to reflect on their own lives. The story explores the limits of human expectations and the hope for a better future, making Chekhov's characters relevant to our times. The play juxtaposes human aspirations against the vastness of the universe and eternity, highlighting the futility and absurdity of earthly conflicts and passions.
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
© Frol Podlesnyi
by Anton Chekhov


Chișinău, Teatrul Ionescu, 2024
Video by Frol Podlesnyi

Director •• Nikita Betekhtin 
Stage and Costume Designer 
•• Denis Sazanov
Sound •• Christian Patraș 
Video •• Mikhail Zaikanov

"The Seagull" brings before the audience not only the human passion to live life but also to take life as it is – with the struggle, sometimes fierce and harsh, for happiness and love, for attention and admiration from others. With all their might, the characters of the play try to seize their chances, which they perceive as the ultimate gift of fate. The sensation of the horizon of expectation being limited and the hope for tomorrow brings the condition of Chekhov's characters closer to that of contemporary humans.

At the same time, together with his characters, Chekhov highlights the condition of humans faced with the immensity of the universe and eternity, which make earthly struggles and conflicts seem insignificant and petty. In the timeless light of the moon, the daily occurrences, the turmoil, and the passions of characters aware of the inevitability of death and decline become as futile as they are ridiculous.

What does happiness consist of, and what are the stakes in our search for the joy promised by existence? How do we distinguish what is truly important from what is ephemeral?

Horror performance for teenagers based on a play by Alexey Oleinikov

Bakery Plant

The Theatre for Young Audiences of Krasnoyarsk, Krasnoyarsk, 2020

Director •• Nikita Betekhtin 
Playwright •• Alexey Oleynikov
Shorthand and costumes •• Denis Sazanov
Composer •• Oleg Krokhalev
Sound designer •• Yan Kuzmichev
Video •• Mikhail Zaikanov
Light •• Nikita Shakarov

“Bread Factory” is a play composed of monologues by high school students. Reflection on past childhood is woven into the fabric of stories about the everyday life of schoolchildren - games, everyday conflicts, love, friendship and enmity. Feeling themselves at the junction of ages, the heroes are trying to understand their place and role in this world. However, gradually more and more infernal absurdity appears in the voices. An ordinary excursion to a bread factory turns into a mystical event — pagan baking of babies or mass sacrifice of children to the inexorable Moloch of social doom.

Maria Kozhina
St. Petersburg theater magazine
•• Fear is something that haunts you and doesn’t allow you to live, but it’s also something that shapes you, adds up to experience, and makes a person individual. The director offers teenagers a conversation in the language of images, which are read through poetic text and visual embodiment. It invites viewers to join the game and not only try to find their place in these stories, but also to share their own fears.••

by Mascha Kontorovich, Krasnoyarsk

Mum, My Arm Was Torn Off

The Theatre for Young Audiences of Krasnoyarsk, Krasnoyarsk, 2020

Director•• Nikita Betekhtin 
Stage and Costume Designer•• Nadja Skomorokhova 
Lighting Designer•• Nikita Shakarov 

The podium, where the heroes can demonstrate current costumes in acid colors that cover their internal complexes and problems, is the only detail of the set design. “When you're 16, you kind of live on the edge. You seem to be constantly either Cobain or Severus Snape. Well... It’s so easy,” - this is how Masha Kantorovich’s play begins, and the excellent actress Elena Kaiser, pronouncing this text, puts on a hat with a unicorn to indicate that she will now play the role of Masha, who will ultimately decide to take the action that was decided in name, but which in the end no one will notice.

This performance is an immersion into a strange world, the personal space of a modern teenage girl. Masha is experiencing an internal conflict caused by the discrepancy between the expectations of others and her own self-image. In a desperate desire to overcome the indifferent attitude of the world, to stand out and become different from everyone else, she decides to lose her hand.

Maria Kozhina
St. Petersburg Theater Magazine
•• Mashka’s peers are space aliens. They parade along the podium stage in shiny futuristic suits, and she, in a simple sweater and a hat with a unicorn, against their background seems too simple and uninteresting. The idea of becoming a model, even without a hand, in a performance arises from the need to fit into this company, to become just as cool and to feel like one of those.••

Heiner  Müller


The Old House Theatre, Novosibirsk, 2020

Director •• Nikita Betekhtin 
Costume Designer •• Alexey Lobanov 
Stage Designer •• Alexander Mokhov 
Lighting Designer •• Ilya Pashnin 
Choreography •• Igor Sharoyko 
Sound Designer •• Yan Kuzmichev 
Media Designer •• Andrei Lokhonin

The performance was one of the most notable Russian premieres of the theatre season 2019-2020 as deemed by the expert council of The Russian National Theatre festival “Golden Mask”. The performance took part in the V Festival “Theatre Biennale. Uroki rezhissury” Gleb Chumalov comes back from The Civil War as if he had been to the land of the dead. He finds his house in ruins, his wife Dasha doesn’t recognize him, nor does he recognize her, and their daughter Niurka is starving in the orphanage. Gleb wants to restore the mechanical body of the cement plant at whatever cost, but to do this, he has to learn to be a machine himself.

Hainer Müller’s play “Cement” is based on the eponymous novel of Fyodor Gladkov. In his unique style, Müller condenses the plot into just a few scenes, linking them them to the myths of Odysseus, Achilles, Prometheus, Sisyphus and other Ancient Greek heroes.

Ksenia Stolnaya, theater critic for Novaya Gazeta
•• Their acting involves a lot of physicality, large gestures everywhere, and yet, remains very focused. With inner strength. Rigorous on the outside. Once in a while, the actors freeze in solemn poses reminding you of the old propaganda posters;

the words either sound like thunder, or drag – the speech seems structured in a musical, rhythmical way to the very last note. However, the expressiveness and amplifying of the form are not overshadowing the content. It has no soul, but it has will. In an ex- cruciating way, it asks essential questions. Who is the hero today? Who can build a life out of ashes and ruins? Can humans’ desire for destruction be eradicated?•• 

Heroes Among Us

Center for Theater Arts, Nizhny Novgorod, 2021

Director •• Nikita Betekhtin 
Daramaturg •• Sergey Davydov   
Choreography •• Sergey Tonyshev
Video •• Mikhail Zaikanov
Producer •• Evgeny Pykhtin

This is the first major project in Nizhny Novgorod that includes the format of a theater for citizens – it involves Nizhny Novgorod residents with different viewing and performing experience, different ages and professions, who have passed a preliminary selection and took part in a three-week laboratory. They act on their own behalf as performers. The monologues of Nizhny Novgorod residents, heroes of our time, who were interviewed by the playwright and director, are performed by professional actors.

The performance won the Grand Prix of the X Russian Theater Festival named after. M. Gorky.

Evgeny Avramenko
St. Petersburg theater magazine

••  The director constructed the performance with mathematical precision, and the audience’s attention is held constantly. Monologues read by the actors skillfully alternate with replicas of Nizhny Novgorod residents - their answers to questions (“what would you like to change in your city?”, “Who do these changes depend on?”, “What do you dream about?”, “What did you miss in own life?”•• 

Chamber opera by Oleg Krokhalev, based on the story by F. Dostoevsky

Notes from the Underground

Theater of the Nation, Moscow, 2021

Director •• Nikita Betekhtin 
Composer •• Oleg Krokhalev
Video •• Mikhail Zaikanov

As part of this musical project, four composers wrote four chamber operas based on the works of Dostoevsky. They were staged on the stage of the New Space of the Theater of Nations by four young directors and performed by the vocal ensemble N’Caged and the Moscow Ensemble of Contemporary Music (MASM). The composers themselves chose the literary material for the operas and thus already at this stage of creativity showed their attitude towards Dostoevsky’s work: there was a combination of plot lines, an emphasis on individual characters and work with the epistolary heritage of the writer.

The performance was awarded the national Golden Mask award as one of the most significant Russian premieres in the 2020/2021 theater season.

Tatiana Yakovleva Magazine

•• The highest degree of vulnerability and inability to face the rudeness and violence of the outside world, shining with coldish shades of sounds, syllables and words, transformed Dostoevsky’s intense empathy into a mode of new sincerity.•• 

by Dmitry Bogoslovsky


The Theatre for Young Audiences of Krasnoyarsk, Krasnoyarsk, 2021
Director •• Nikita Betekhtin 
Playwright •• Dmitry Bogoslavsky
Shorthand and costumes •• Denis Sazanov
Light •• Nikita Shakarov

“Catapult” is a story in two acts about the life of the outwardly adult, but internally immature Vadik, says the announcement on the theater’s website. “You can’t envy the life of the main character, because by the age of forty he found himself “in the air.” Along the way, the financial and criminal problems of the poorest regions of the post-Soviet space are shown. But don’t rush to draw conclusions, the play is not at all about everyday life, and Vadik is not so simple - throughout the story he transforms and matures in the process of finding a decent suit for his son for graduation.

Vadik is one of those who grew up in the early 90s, and hung out there. Vadik’s life is not going well: his wife doesn’t want to let him home after the divorce, his son has nothing to buy a decent suit for prom, once again he couldn’t get a job, and he also got involved in some murky business. Vadik’s whole life is in flux, as if he was launched from a catapult in an amusement park playing with lights without wearing a seat belt.