“Dashing 90s”
Yulia was born in the so-called “dashing 90s”. Her dad was not paid a salary for a year and a half. There was no money even for diapers. It was a time of freedom. Everyone survived on their own. And perhaps now the state could have climbed into this story, but then everyone did not care.

We lived on the very edge of a small village. Further, there was only a forest with wolves and quails, mushrooms and berries. The house was new: only walls and no money to buy furniture. There was no telephone in our village. They called me an ambulance that didn't come for five hours. When Yulia was born, she was diagnosed with non-viability and cerebral palsy, we were recommended to take the baby to an orphanage and give birth to another one. At first, we were very scared, and then we realized that many problems could be solved. We immediately abandoned traditional medicine. My husband was in favour of that. There was no doubt that we could handle it. When Yulia was 9 years old, her dad went missing. Since then there are just two of us.
Our home was for the child
There was a large stage, many pillows, the walls were covered with pictures, different houses were being built. In the middle, instead of a trampoline, there was a tire. Breastfeeding went on for a long time. When Yulia got older we never forced her to eat what she does not like, the whole family ate what Yulia eats. I said that I would not cook separately.

I sewed and knitted all the clothes myself, came up with comfortable fasteners, Velcro. At first, Yulia was allowed to touch the fabric, play, and only after that something was made out of it. If we found a comfortable uniform, we made many sets of different colors for it. For example, in order not to suffer from pullovers coming out from behind the belt, I sewed swimsuits. There were a lot of them, different colors from different fabrics. When Yulia asked to buy something, we said: draw and we will do it ourselves. From the age of two, Yulia herself made a lot of clothes, of course under my control.
For the upbringing and development of Yulia, I myself took full responsibility 
From the age of 4 months there were regular classes. I wrote myself a schedule for each day. Compulsory English (audio cassettes), compulsory drawing in different forms, reading aloud, designing, climbing, cooking... We soon had a computer in our house and we watched different educational programs. The business of Yulia’s dad was connected with computers. I sewed almost all the toys myself or sculpted them. If we bought something, it was expensive, real, branded toys and then different sets of clothes were sewn to them, food was created.

We got a camera early. We shot films about nature: how a dragonfly crawls out of a reservoir and dries its wings, how a butterfly appears from a pupa, the life of frogs. We walked a lot in the forest, it was not scary there. We went to quarries, swam there. Yulia learned to swim at 2 months and always swam. In the quarries, we could dig out clay from the bottom, mold something out of it and then go back and paint.

Yulia had two nannies. They were 11 years old. I needed time to sew, knit, and I made an agreement with the girls. They came to our house, read to Yulia, played with her. The village “Druzhba” at that time was a place of orphan children, parents earned money, the children were without supervision. I understood that in order to grow, you need society. I sat with Yulia and still did something, so the children began to come to our house to play and climb. When we went to the forest, I took everyone who wanted with me. Yulia with her 1-3 years old, grew up among children from 7 to 13 years old. We walked through the artists’ studios, behind the scenes of the Puppet and Drama Theaters. While teaching Yulia, I learned different things. It was difficult to teach her, almost none of the teachers could cope with her strong character, so everyone handed her back to me.
Mother of Yulia Tsvetkova, administrator of the activist youth theater “Merak”
I was born into a family where it was impossible to talk about noble roots. Everyone was afraid, but my mother always took me to various performances, taught me to write beautifully, to draw. Then I realized that it was a classic noble upbringing. Every year there was a “Theater Spring” in our city. I liked the performances of one folk theater.

When I was 14, my mother said that this theater announced a call for new members and invited me to go, and also told me that the director of the theater was the actor of the Drama Theater Mikhail Sales. He lives in the house where my mother’s kindergarten was located, and his child went not quite legally to her garden, which was a departmental one. But my mother took the child because she loved the theater and its actors.

I came. There was a large crowd of people, all adults. They asked me who I was, what I was doing and refused to take me because I was small. Then I used my secret card about my mother and was taken not fully legally too. So I got into the magic realm of adults, smart people, interesting meetings and night rehearsals. Mom didn’t like the fact that I walked at night, but I was stronger in spirit and persuaded her. There was one condition: no matter how late I came from the rehearsal, at 5 in the morning I was supposed to get up without whining and go to the dormitory to wash the floor. We lived without a father, there was not enough money and it was additional income. I complied with this condition and my mother did not touch my rehearsals.

When I turned 18, I didn’t understand what I wanted. I studied at a pedagogical school. There were very strict conditions, and in the middle of the year, I left it. I finished 10 classes at the school for working-class youth. A very funny place. I didn’t understand what to do next.

Several events happened in a row. Director Sales unexpectedly became the main director of the Drama Theater. The theater building was put on a major overhaul and the theater was to go on tour to Vladivostok. The director was gathering a new young team, many of my friends came to work in the drama, and I wanted to as well. I had no education and I became an assistant director.

Perestroika began. The theater began to stage previously forbidden plays. For three years it was my big family. We moved from city to city, showed performances, rehearsed. The queue to the toilet in pajamas brings people closer. When you eat dumplings from someone’s teapot, it brings you closer too. So I had a very unusual experience. I was a vagabond and I was looking for adventures, and the theater gave me this. Three years later, the building was completed and the theater returned home. Our director has “matured”. Innovation was gone and I left. Apparently, my nature rejects everything that is “official”.

I didn’t like the division into black and white. The actors were a privileged class. Technicians are slaves. Even on tour, it was felt: the actors go to the closed beach, go to the compartment. It didn’t seem to me that it was fair. It was not clear to me who was measuring the value of people. When we returned to the city after touring for 3 years, this division intensified. Our director was one of the repressed. He was rotten all his life and he had a little paranoia for persecution, resentment. Now I understand him, then it was strange for me when they organized large meetings because someone did not say hello to someone else.

I love Somerset Maugham’s "Theater". It says that the entire life is theater. The theater is true life.

Anna Khodyreva

I was accidentally brought to the House of Culture, where I worked for 21 years. I gave one advertisent in the newspaper and gathered people for 3-4 groups. Very quickly I realized that just drawing is not interesting to me, well, you will draw 20 flowers….and that I love history, different sciences, and the concept of encyclopedic knowledge appeared through drawing. I collected various information about space, the origin of dinosaurs, Egypt, Sumer, Babylon, the myths of Ancient Greece ... I learned to speak figuratively and understandably, not like at school, I made various manuals. Very quickly, the core of the community was formed, mothers who wanted good knowledge for their children and did not want a kindergarten. Our children got singing, aerobics, swimming, French, English, theater and drawing as a way to learn about the world. We fed children in a cafe, agreed on dinners, and it was like that for two years.

I think it was difficult for all of us in Komsomolsk and together we created a world in which there was love and adventure, deeds and social benefits. I worked there when there were no other occupations, Yulia worked with me. It is difficult to draw for three hours at the age of 4, and so I let her wander around the recreation center and climb into the hall behind the stage. Yulia found children herself and hung out with them.

We didn’t do theater on purpose. We just put the myths of ancient Greece in order to better remember them or played space exercises. From the age of 4, during the holidays, Yulia was asked to play with the children in the next room in order to let the adults sit quietly. From the age of 6, during such gatherings, Yulia began to stage performances. The children rehearsed, we talked. Then Yulia called everyone. We came, watched the play, praised and went to our office, and Yulia staged a new production.

The theater as a study circle with another teacher was the most classic. With games for memory and attention and distribution of roles. Yulia went there for about 5 years. I cannot say that I regret it, but now she does not remember this place. So it was not very good there.

I tried to combine school and life, I saw Yulia’s super-memory and learning speed. I was thinking about a career of a diplomat with training at MGIMO. I had to go a long way from demanding brilliant studying from her to giving Yulia the permission to first rarely go to school, then completely drop it at 15 years old.

At the age of 15, Yulia took up dancing and Japanese professionally. At 17, I sent her to Moscow, where parkour appeared. Further London and a lot of travels. Almost complete isolation from state institutions and great trust on my part, permission to do adult projects, 8 languages almost in parallel, a rich environment: in the end, life won out. Now I see that life helps Yulia survive in this story.