The Virtual Theatre


There is no organization, only directions… I do not think that my webpages are user-friendly, never mind, readable. This dizzying constellation of sites is the work of Moscow-born filmmaker and playwright Anatoly Antohin, who defected from the Soviet Union in 1980, and in 1989, began his 20 year-tenure as professor at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. In his time there he staged dozens of works, including adaptations of Shakespeare, Beckett, and Chekhov. His adaptation of “Three Sisters” was the first full-length play to be streamed live over the Internet. It was during his time at UAF, in the late 90’s, that Anatoly began constructing his digital labyrinth.

  • 3 Fields: Theatre, Film, Web
  • 3 Professions: Writer, Director, Actor
  • Draw two triangles (Star of David) – Virtual Theatre is in the middle

Constructing this electronic archipelago had its challenges. The Internet of the 90’s and 00’s was a rapidly shifting place – in places, Anatoly laments the immense difficulty in keeping his links and his images updated. Testament to that are the many, many broken hyperlinks and deceased URL’s, in many cases re-animated by click-hungry advertisers. But things were to change in 2007. 4.13.07. After my stroke the world took a several steps back. Suddenly, I myself became virtual… I am still teaching. I think. Web is the last refuge for me. In 2009, Anatoly ended his career with the UAF, and, along with his wife of African descent, retired to Ethiopia to found a theatre company in Addis Ababa. Anatoly, will you finish your pages, if Ethiopian God will give you another 30 years? Alas, it was not to be. Anatoly Antohin died on July 28, 2011; his family held a service for him in Addis Ababa. Online, his friends, colleagues, students and admirers poured out their fond memories of this “great creative and intellectual force,” this “mad genius,” this “Pilgrim Soul.” It is fitting that, in the end, the man who founded the virtual theatre became virtual himself. Anatoly was right: through this last refuge of the Web, he teaches yet.

This review originally appeared in the Austin School of Film’s recommendations blog, MIX/VHS. Check out the full post here, which also includes a review of Father John Misty’s “Mr. Tillman.”

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