The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly changed the lives of many when it first struck early in 2020. At the height of the pandemic, many people engaged in new hobbies to keep themselves busy and keep their anxiety from the pandemic at bay.
Others took the time to hone their skills and develop their existing passions. Russian creative producer and director Maria Staroselets also took the opportunity to further her career in the entertainment industry while advocating sustainable entertainment in theatrical productions.
Although she was living in Los Angeles before the pandemic, its onset changed all of her professional and personal plans. “I decided to concentrate more on site-specific theatre because it’s more COVID-safe, taking place mostly outdoors, and doesn’t require big budgets,” she said.
During her two-year stay in Russia, from 2020 to 2022, Maria wrote and staged four unique site-specific performances at various locations across the country. And currently working on the first audio promenade in the ancient city of Samarquand, Uzbekistan.
It is a unique format of a promenade theatre produced in any location without any budget. It’s a part of the sustainable and urban environment awareness project she wants to expand as a franchise around the globe.
Maria also aims to mentor underrepresented female artists who need guidance in sustainable and low-budget projects in culture and arts.
“I would love to speak more publicly about it, make workshops explaining how it works, and mentor those artists, who would like to create more sustainable entertainment,” she said.
For Maria, sustainable entertainment is a relevant process in adapting entertainment to outdoor locations while creating new experiences to allow audiences to appreciate their surroundings through a fresh perspective that comes with storytelling.
The urban environment, according to Maria, already contains all the necessary elements to create a story in any genre, from social drama to comedic horror, at the expense of over-saturation with symbols and patterns.
She is a staunch believer that moving theatrical events to urban spaces allow audiences not only to develop gaming cooperation and a sense of shoulder and justice but also to rethink one's own identity, learn modern processes in society, and harmonize relations with one's environment.
Using her skills as a filmmaker, Maria is currently on a mission to prove sustainable entertainment is part of the social change for the industry without using large budgets or producing unnecessary waste.
Maria’s love for entertainment comes from her upbringing, as she comes from a family of Russian circus producers and directors. At a young age, she already knew her destiny as a storyteller and traveler.
By 2005, she received her film production certificate, marking the start of her career as a filmmaker. Maria’s mentors include some of the award-winning mavens of Soviet cinema, who taught her the craft and technology behind film production.
As a director and creative producer, Maria’s journey is far from over, especially since the urban environment has yet to unlock its full potential as a setting for sustainable entertainment. It’s up to her and her fellow advocates to spark that change.