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Arriving in Uzbekistan

May 13, 2014

Arriving in Uzbekistan

Having booked us a flight on Turkish Air (a great decision, they ran right on time and had amenities missing from many other airlines: warm lemon towels, decent food, some leg room, a “travel kit”, etc.) we traveled from Dulles (Washington, DC) to Istanbul (2 hour layover) to Tashkent.

Tashkent Arrival sign

Arrival time in Tashkent, exactly as my eyes saw it 21.5 hours into the journey.

Outside the airport was surprisingly bustling, but we were greeted by a guide with a sign and taken to a taxi outside the airport.  We drove by concrete buildings with ornate accents and trees with white paint reaching up their trunks (for pests we’d later learn).

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Trees in a park on Navoiy Street in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Our driver from the airport to the hotel was friendly and with a few words of English and a few words of Russian we learned about our Uzbek car and also where to go shopping. Cost: $20 US.

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Shodlik Palace. Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

From house door to hotel room: 23:10.  Worth every minute and crappy movie watched on the flight (Turkish Air has individual monitors for entertainment, I wasn’t forced to watch crappy movies, but who want’s to watch a good movie on a flight?  One glimmer of hope:  Walter Mitty with Ben Stiller set a pretty nice tone for our adventure).

It was 2 a.m. in Tashkent and we had arrived at the Shodlik Palace Hotel. Exhausted and exhilarated, that tingly travel feel of not quite knowing where or when you are.

We took our luggage up.  A moment later I rode the elevator back down to order our first two Sarbast Green of the trip at Hemingway’s, the 24 hour hotel bar.

That night we slept well. Good thing, too, the following day we’d be looking around the Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil and perhaps sitting in on a rehearsal of Dance on Bones.

What is the Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil?

From Ilkhom Theatre facebook page:

At the present the Ilkhom Theatre remains the only theatre collective in Central Asia with the ability to realize the most ambitious projects, while retaining its political and artistic independence.

Description
The Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil is the only professional independent performing arts organization in Uzbekistan was founded in 1976 by legendary director Mark Weil. The Ilkhom Theatre has always been known as a destination of intellectuals’ pilgrimage, a place of concentration and creating of modern cultural environment. The Ilkhom has never been a political figure; nevertheless, this fact didn’t prevent the theatre and its artistic director from being blamed for non-conformism in the years of stagnation in 1980s as well as from being ignored by the power and state bodies supporting culture in the post-Soviet years.

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The Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil was the first independent theatre in the Soviet Union. It remains self supporting to this day.

Today this cultural center presents up to 200 performances for more than 25000 spectators a year, runs the whole number of international festival and music programs, the organization’s exhibition space operates up to 8-10 art, photo, visual arts expositions and installations, educational programs of the company outreach wide spectrum of young professionals in visual and performing arts. For the last 20 years the productions of the Ilkhom Theatre have been presented at over 40 international theatre festivals in 21 countries of the world, including USA, Japan, United kingdom, Israel, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Russia and others.

The Ilkhom Theatre has a repertory of plays: from Mark Weil’s musical adaptation of Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat to Yury Klavdiev’s new piece Water Behind the Wall directed by Vladimir Pankov.

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Coming Attractions board at Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil – Tashkent, Uzbekistan

They also have a training program in which students train to become part of their company. This program is open to international students.

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Writing on column in basement of Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil

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