My research project here in St. Petersburg is centered around the Aurora Movie Theater. The Aurora Theater opened in 1913 and is located on Nevskii Prospekt. The Aurora is an incredible theater for many reasons- it was the first movie theater to ever open in St. Pete, the third in the country, and has been a functioning theater for close to a century!
Through my research and conducting interviews, I have met some fascinating people and had some special opportunities I would not have had without this project. For example, one of my interviewees, Arina Arakelova, has been the marketing director at the Aurora for 17 years. During our interview, she took us around the Theater and we even got a sneak peek of Toy Story 3 in 3d…and in Russian. In all my years, I could not ever imagine that I would see Barbie on a big screen speaking Russian. 🙂
Located on Petersburg’s main street Nevsky Prospekt, the Theater has been very successful over the past decades. Since the Theater’s opening, it has only had to close its doors once- this time was during the first 3 months of the Siege of Leningrad. During the Soviet times it has been used as a propaganda outlet. After the end of the Soviet Union the theater serves as the first screen movie theater, participates in film festivals, such as Kinoforum, and provides a venue for the viewers’ meetings with their favorite filmmakers and actors.
In addition to my research on the Avrora Theater, I have been collaborating with Megan Doneski on her research project about Nevsky Prospekt. On Monday I had the opportunity of talking to a Siege Survivor, Valerii Friedman ! He was four when the siege began. Now he is a successful businessman who runs the ‘MIR’ travel agency on Nevskii Prospekt!
Through this research project, I have been able to develop a more personal view on my research which is invaluable.