BLOG: RUSSIA: Better “With Hope” or “Better Together”?

2nd Day in St Petersburg…

The highlight of my visit to Pulkovo airport in St Petersburg yesterday was to visit the head of The Corporate University ; Ludmila and the HR Director Yana.

Yana had worked with me on the Pulkovo team development in Iceland but had not been to the Blue Lagoon trip (see previous blog!) so I kept my clothes on for the entire meeting!

The office for the meeting had a huge window with a panoramic view across fields to some roads. At the intersection of the roads was a giant billboard sign. Yana told me that the sign was owned by a newspaper and always had different sayings written on it. Up until the day before written in giant letters had been: Russia – “Full of Hope” But yesterday it was changed to “Russia: Together.”

I am sure this statement carries much double meaning as the economic and political shifts are taking place. One thing is for certain – throughout my entire trip these were the two topics of conversations – Ukraine and The collapse of the Rouble on the global markets. Interestingly everyone seemed to talk of hope and not fear. Of trepidation not panic. Where news comes from and how it is disseminated is also a common topic. However there is an implicit trust in the charismatic Putin and despite negative comments most people seemed to have this trust as opposed to fear around his actions.


One meeting I had over the weekend was with a colleague Olga who described Putin’s performance at the recent meeting about Ukraine with Hollande and Merkel. Olga had been listening to a radio commentary of the meeting in which a commentator had deconstructed Putin, Merkel and Hollande’s body language. One conclusion was that Putin was the defiant King – the strong confident leader, with Merkel battling her frustration and desire to pounce forward and grab him around the neck – with Hollande waiting in the wings to mop the brow of the contestants…

A cartoon illustration of a serious encounter perhaps but nevertheless there is truth in the fact that whilst words may be diplomatic the language of the body can display hidden truths.

This is certainly one area of theatre that I have been able to focus on in business development workshops and programmes. In all the work we have ever done , e have looked at Archetypes (King Hero, Mother, Innocent, Trickster and Fool) and how they are articulated visually as well as psychologically. The most obvious example of this has been in our EPIC programme where we breakdown dynamics of formal and informal communication into Body Mind and Voice with actors focusing on the Body language and vocal technique and me pulling other the whole picture or story.

Interestingly I am not sure that Mr Putin has been on one of my EPIC courses – but places are available!

And as Aristotle taught many politicians if you want people to believe you – you need both Evidence and Artistic Persuasion. And maybe Russia needs both … Hope and Togetherness ??


This blog was written three days before the murder of Nemstov.. more reflections to follow