Press Release

"STATE VS. NATASHA BANINA". Arlekin Players Theatre

A newly-conceived live ZOOM theatre experiment
Additional Performances: July 5 and July 12, 2020 at 8pm

“Critic’s Pick! A bracing trial by Zoom…Riveting!” — Maya Phillips, The New York Times

“…Exciting! A really clever production! A gripping performance!” — Jared Bowen, WGBH

“Visionary!” — Nancy Grossman, BROADWAYWORLD.COM

“…brilliant portrayal!” — Don Aucoin, THE BOSTON GLOBE

The Cherry Orchard Festival presents Boston’s Arlekin Players Theatre with State vs. Natasha Banina (, a newly-conceived live Zoom interactive theater art experiment, directed by Igor Golyak and featuring Arlekin company’s leading actress and 2020 Elliot Norton Award winner (Outstanding Actress) Darya Denisova. Based on popular demand and critical acclaim, performances have been added on July 5 and July 12, both at 8pm. There is also a previously announced performance this Sunday evening: June 28, 2020 at 8pm live on Zoom. State vs. Natasha Banina is based on a play by contemporary Russian playwright, Yaroslava Pulinovich’s Natasha’s Dream. For information or to reserve a Zoom spot, visit Each performance will also offer live post-show discussion.
All performances are FREE and Zoom registration is required. Suggested donations will support COVID-19 EMERGENCY RELIEF effort for THE ACTORS FUND.
Critics are raving about State vs. Natasha Banina. The New York Times cheers, “Critic’s Pick! A bracing trial by Zoom…Riveting!” and the Boston Globe applauds Denisova, calling her performance “a brilliant portrayal.” This Week in New York said, “the future of online productions might be best represented so far by Arlekin Players Theatre’s State vs. Natasha Banina,” and WGBH raved, “Exciting! A really clever production! A gripping performance!”
“In response to the COVID-19 emergency, we had to cancel all live performances scheduled for June 2020 as part of the annual Cherry Orchard Festival, but we still wanted to do something unique for our audiences during these challenging times,” said Maria Shclover, executive producer of the Cherry Orchard Festival.
“We developed a partnership with Boston’s Arlekin Players Theatre, a small local theatre company
that was recently recognized with ten nominations and four wins by the Boston Theater Critics Association at the 38th Annual Elliot Norton Awards,” explained Irina Shabshis, artistic director of the Festival. “Arlekin’s visionary director, Igor Golyak launched a new production in cyberspace that combines live acting, visual and sound effects, and recreates the community experience for the theatre goer. We decided to present this work to our audience.”
State vs Natasha Banina is set inside a zoom courtroom where the audience is the jury observing the young girl in confinement, telling her story directly to the camera lens. The play transforms its virtual audience into a jury tasked with deciding the fate of Natasha Banina, a 16-year-old orphan on trial for attempted manslaughter. Natasha makes her unique appeal to audiences as the jurors, letting them into her world, where she dreams about love, family, acceptance, adjusting and her future. Ultimately, the audience will decide her fate.
Golyak and Denisova each received 2020 Elliot Norton Awards from the Boston Theatre Critics Association for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Actress, respectively. The two have been rehearsing State vs. Natasha Banina during quarantine.
“During these uncertain times, being artistic and creative are essential, and we are excited about this new theatrical experience,” says Igor Golyak. “We are creating a new art form to overcome social distancing, the pandemic, and ultimately unite people in one virtual space by merging theater, cinematography, and video games.”


Igor Golyak (Director, Arlekin Founding Artistic Director) received the 2020 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director for Arlekin’s The Stone and was also nominated in the same year for his direction of Arlekin’s The Seagull. He is an Associate Professor at the Boston Conservatory, and has spent over a decade teaching the art of theatre. He is the founder of the Igor Golyak Acting Studio and Artistic Director of Arlekin Players Theatre which has won numerous awards in the United States and internationally. Arlekin Players Theatre is a multicultural, multi-national collaborative that is growing year to year in the number of audience members, company actors, and volunteers. His theatre has been invited to perform on famous stages and at world-renowned festivals all over the world, including Moscow Art Theatre, and festivals in Yerevan, Armenia, New York City, Chicago, Lviv, Ukraine, Monaco, and many others.
Darya Denisova (Natasha Banina) received the 2020 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Actress for her portrayal of Witha in Arlekin’s The Stone, which received three Elliot Norton Awards, including Outstanding Production. She has performed as the lead actress in various Arlekin Players’ productions, including Memorial Prayer in 2014, Natasha’s Dream in 2015, Tales of the Last Wednesday in 2016, Dead Man’s Diary in 2017, МЫ-US in 2018, The Stone in 2019 and The Seagull in 2019. She has also traveled to several international theatre festivals to perform with Arlekin Players Theatre, including the United SOLO festival, off Broadway, New York; SOLO Festival in Moscow, Russia; HighFest theatre festival, Yerevan, Armenia with her award-winning solo performance Natasha’s Dream. Darya has been recognized by Boston critics and leading reviewers for her roles at Arlekin Players. She studied acting at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts in Moscow, graduating in 2016. After she received her degree, she moved back to Boston to continue performing in Boston with Arlekin Players Theatre, which she joined in 2013. She has taught documentary theatre at the Startalk School at Harvard University and the Stanislavsky method at the Igor Golyak acting studio.


Arlekin Players Theatre was created in Boston in 2009 and has since toured to New York, Chicago, and Hartford, as well as to international festivals in Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, and Monaco. Arlekin takes strong pride in their emphasis on self-identity; they are a company of immigrants performing works that play on the ideas of cross-culture, home, and traditions, challenging the idea of nationality, and finding common themes that unite us all. The company makes its home in Needham, MA. For more information, visit


Cherry Orchard Festival (, a registered 501c) (3) arts organization, is a leading independent international arts organization with a solid reputation for presenting musical performances, theatrical productions, multi-disciplinary performing and visual arts attractions by a stunning array of global artists to audiences in the US. Founded by executive producer, Maria Shclover and artistic director, Irina Shabshis in 2012, the festival is now embarking on it’s 8th season and has presented over 60 unique world class events, concerts, and theatrical performances to over 150,000 audience members. The mission of the Cherry Orchard Festival is to introduce and promote global cultural activity and exchange of ideas, aiming to enlighten and engage audiences through educational programs and events. For more information about the festival, please visit:
Sponsorship opportunities for the Cherry Orchard Festival are also available. For more information please email:

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