My name is Michael Vitaly Sazonov, and I grew up near Washington, D.C. in a multicultural and multi-generational home…
…As a family we all loved music — on car trips, at home, or during parties (dancing as a kid, I used to love doing the Twist!) — music shared from my mom’s and dad’s heritage, music from their youth, and music from their adolescence. I grew up with an abuelo who loved playing cassette tapes of pasillos (or Ecuadorian folk music), and an abuelita whose Locros kept me strong, while whose cuentos, poesías & chistes would have me in stitches or on the edge of my seat! On my dad’s side there were also jokes and stories, poems and music, but issued from balalaikas instead of guitars, the Urals instead of the Andes. I was so blessed to have a strong family who loved getting together, sharing stories, music, and dance, and I hope to carry that tradition on as an uncle, brother, and son — but also as a Theatre-maker.
My Theatre experience officially started while I was a sophomore in high school. I played soccer, tennis, and some golf growing up, but I had a unique fun doing Theatre. I didn’t know at the time, but Theatre provided me access to massive feelings and life choices before ever having to encounter them. Maybe it was also fun just to play games(!); but either way, as a shy, scrawny kid, Theatre helped me off with my shell and into the strength of my imagination.
While studying international politics, history, and peace & conflict resolution at American University, I also had the opportunity to work with Brett Smock and Michael Rupert on a new musical Michael was writing. Before classes started up that summer I remember being in a room with a full-throated, open-hearted, beautiful soul at the piano, learning the craft of singing a song, and the emotional power one can harness through music. Because of those two artists I fell in love with this art form for good. I continued to work in the theatre during and after graduation and was honored to join the Actors’ Equity Association in April 2004.
Throughout my performing arts career as an actor I enjoyed observing the details of putting it together. Bit by bit. The ins and outs of staging a musical or play, the cohesiveness and compromise between design and direction, script and story, character and conflict – discovering along the way, the ironic duality of great Theatre — how it can surpass its limitations and become a limitless tool for communication and community. Since 2012, I discovered a passion for theatre-making, as a director an producer, devising across many mediums, but especially live theatre. I have come to admire and now yearn to create work that uplifts communities who don’t often get to speak for themselves, or whose voices are sometimes painted in differing lights. I have made it my mission to give voice to the disenfranchised through my style of theatre, from their own experiences as source material, their presence as collaborators, and their bodies and voices as company members too.
Whether produced in community and conversation,
or as a professional piece with a playbill and ticket in tow,
my documentary style theatre aims to be earnest and entertaining.
For three years I produced works on “the soldier,” the Veteran, and war. These theatrical experiences were built from interviews and conversations, deep study and research, and literary explorations across distinct cultural and generational landscapes.
“It was only in scratching the surface and digging deeper within this subject that I began to see all its complexities – still unraveled and unknown, but brighter and bolder than before.”
Most recently, I have delved into a story that hits close to home, a story that is shared by millions of people around the world: that of Parkinson’s Disease. Collected from conversation and interviews from people living with Parkinson’s disease and written in collaboration with members of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, we utilize poetry, music, and theatre to weave together a tapestry of truth and transcendence. I found myself especially drawn to utilizing movement to tell this story when words fell short, a poignant proposition for performing a piece revolving around a movement disorder.
I believe the Theatre can be a reflection of this world, or its antithesis, and there is power in getting together, sharing stories, music & dance as a community. In fact, there is a vital need for creativity as a community to help our culture survive, but it should not be generalized, marginalized, or prescriptive; for culture should be complex and ever-evolving like its community as it encompasses more than what one might think. I believe we can take the word as a biologist or diplomat might: after all, culture is about the conditions set in place to promote growth, and in that case our culture can be our sensitivity & graciousness, as well as our openness & vulnerability, and in turn, even our strength & solidarity. Growing up with two cultural identities, as I formed the third, as a first generation American, I ended up living in Washington, DC and then New York, among even more disparate & distinct cultures, but I am one who strives to see the innate value that lies in the heart of every human being: the light. The Divine.
By creating space and carving out time to promote creativity in order to foster a deeper exchange of culture, I believe we can come to know ourselves within the greater context of the whole. And I believe that ‘whole’ deserves the best of all us, in order to survive.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions about classes, collaborations, or just to say, “Hi!”