The Russian Arts
Theater & Studio

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The Russian Arts Theater & Studio was founded in 2004 by Artistic Director Aleksey Burago and actress Snezhana Chernova. The couple both graduated from distinguished theater academies—namely, the Moscow Academy of Theater Arts (GITIS) and the St. Petersburgh Academy of Theater Arts. They brought forward their extensive study and experience in hopes of creating a New York theater company that would pass on the rich theater traditions and practices of Stanislavski and Michael Chekhov as well as introducing lesser-known Russian repertoire to American audiences.

The company has provided many critically-acclaimed shows for the New York community, including adaptations, new translations, short stories & plays---from Hans Christian Andersen to Anton Chekhov to Tennessee Williams. Most recent acclaim went to ensemble member Danusia Trevino for her award-winning auto-biographical one-woman show, directed by Artistic Director, Aleksey Burago.

In the early months of 2011, members of the current ensemble came forward to revamp and modernize the company outlook to better reach contemporary audiences. A new repertory and educational program was developed, along with the launch of the company's new website. In September 2012, the Russian Art Theater signed with the historic Stanton Street Shul and gained residency in the Lower East Side, where the company will be providing affordable theater productions to the New York Community.

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Mission Statement

Currently, our mission is two-fold. Firstly, through the exploration of new theatrical works as well as progressive re-imaginings of classics, we aim to preserve, promote and advance Russian arts and heritage in New York City.  Secondly, through an affordable and accessible theater education program, we aim to train a new generation of imaginative, innovative, and sincere artists capable of serving the mission for generations to come.

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Who is Who

Advisory Board
Rosemary Harris
Dana Ivey
Judith Ivey
Sir Derek Jakobi
Brian Murray ​
Barry Schneider (Business Consultant)
Aleksey Burago, Artistic Director
Aleksey Burago's picture

As the Artistic Director of The Russian Arts Theater & Studio, Aleksey Burago helms the company's artistic vision, theatrical form, seasonal programming and message. He directs the theater ensemble with passion and intimacy, works closely with the creative team, and centralizes the company's inventive and inspired work environment.

A graduate of the Moscow Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS), Aleksey is a protégé of the world famous Russian director Pytor Fomenko. He has directed many productions to critical acclaim in Europe and America, including Beyond Recognition, which had a sold-out run at the Hermitage Theatre in St. Petersburg. His television production of Queen of Spades (Moscow TV) also received rave reviews. In New York, Aleksey has directed over thirty productions, including On the Eve (Obie Nominee), Ah, My Dear Anderson (Time Out NY Critic’s Pick), Gamblers, The Master and Margarita, Lady with a Lapdog With Jokes and a Happy Ending, Vassa, An Absolutely Happy Village, In Paris, The Seagull, The Magic Forest of Baba Yaga, The Bear, The Great Nothing, Uncle Vanya, Avenue of Wonder and My Uncle Chekhov. His latest production of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment played to rave reviews and enjoyed many sold-out performances at the West End Theater.

Aleksey is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Best Director Award at the Moscow Annual Festival of Classical Plays, Best Director Award at the St. Petersburg Comedy Festival, and the Best Show Award at the 2010 International United Solo Festival. Additionally, Aleksey's creation of Billy Bob Boils the Sea was selected to represent the United States at the 9th International Ordu Youth and Children’s Festival in Turkey. As a teacher, Aleksey has taught around the world, including at the Theatre Academy and Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Danish Theatre School GITIS Scandinavia in Denmark, Manhattanville College, the International Festival in Mexico, Bilkent University in Ankara Turkey, and most recently at the Theater Communications Laboratory in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.

Read Aleksey's articles on Backstage!
"Acting Not for Fame, But for Feeding Your Inner Fire"
"5 Rules For the Theater Actor"

Di Zhu, General Manager and Teacher
picture of Di Zhu

Di Zhu is an actress, pianist and the General Manager of The Russian Arts Theater and Studio. The Grand Prize Winner of the Inaugural International New York Piano Competition, Di's piano performances have been featured nationally on PBS, as well as WXXI and WQXR. As an actress, Di has appeared in many stage productions, most recently as Sonya in Crime and Punishment, where her performance and adaptation was received with rave reviews. At Theater Three Collaborative, Di has played Admira in The Beekeeper's Daughter (Theater for a New City) Rebecca in Extreme Whether (Cherry Lane Theater & TNC), and Another Life (TNC & 2013 RADA Festival, London) Overseas, Di has performed in Turkey at the 9th Ordu International Theatre Youth and Children Festival with Billy Bob Boils the Sea, an original show she co-wrote with director Aleksey Burago. She has also recently served as an assistant director and acting coach at Bilkent University in Ankara on the production Lady with a Lapdog, with Jokes and a Happy Ending, based on the short stories of Anton Chekhov. Select New York theater credits include Avenue of Wonder (Dark Woman), The Great Nothing (Pianist), My Uncle Chekhov (Olenka), The Bear & Other Jokes by Anton Chekhov (Popova), Uncle Vanya (Yelena), The Seagull (Masha), Border Sweet Border, In Ghostly Japan (New York Magazine Critic's Pick) and Dr. Chekhov's Swan Song + Other Prescriptions. She has most recently be seen in the Paramount Pictures film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, opposite Tina Fey, Martin Freeman and Margot Robbie. For more information, please visit  

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