He personally creates all the programs and conduct them with professional actors and munitions.

I recently did a radio/podcast interview in Russia about working and building a business there.

The interview sums up the work we do in that market (as well as others) and how the theatre and business training can intersect.

I listened to it again recently and noticed this amazing sentence describing my work in the supporting text…

“He personally creates all the programs and conduct them with professional actors and munitions”.

I love the fact that I use actors and weapons in my training!!!

Enjoy the interview…




Paul’s Blog: St Petersburg: “I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on” … an Icelandic Peace Treaty”

En route to St Petersburg….

Activity; both theatre and training has severely dropped off in Russia.

I hope to be back teaching at Meyerhold Theatre Leaders School in Moscow soon – but who knows.


I have been teaching at Meyerhold for last three years at The Theatre Leaders School but times are tough so may not be back! The Rouble has literally halved in value so now I am twice as expensive!

We at Menagerie (http://www.menagerie.uk.com/) are also hoping to tour our new play bloominauschwitz (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyyXfzieAOg) to Russia but again economics make it almost impossible at the moment – ah well you can see bloom on tour in the UK and various parts of Europe in May and June!

I actually can’t wait for ‘bloom’ – what an extraordinary configuration of James Joyce’s Ulysses and the idea of Concentration camp tourism (with jokes!) let’s see how it pans out … but it should be a triumph and hopefully one which will see us touring it…in Russia even!

Today I will be visiting staff at Pulkovo airport in St Petersburg

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulkovo_Airport) the new international terminal, before hooking up with colleagues Ludmila Murgulets and Olaf Hauer my partners in the Russian training company iNTG (see photo of me looking very arty – off into space!)


We worked with Pulkovo last year when the creative team-building exercises we facilitated took place in Reykjavik. It was really like being in some kind of Cold War Peace treaty scenario – half the group was Russian, the other half German and together they were building a new airport in St Petersburg!

And there we were – the iNTG team plus actors Jasmine Hyde and Mark Oosterveen from the UK – all in Iceland, all trying to broker peace through the power of theatre!

It was truly bizarre but also lots of fun. Mark and Jasmine had recently finished a run of the Menagerie play Why Can’t We Live Together? In London


So they were a tight acting couple and we used this to work scenes, show characters and build up a communication skill set for our Russian /German delegation… For Jasmine it was an experience she had been through before working with us in Dubai and Hong Kong but for Mark it was – what the F**k am I doing??!? Is this an acting workshop or an audition to be in an episode from The Office ??!? The answer was probably … a bit of both.

But as always the objective was to challenge thinking, stretch minds and engage hearts … and working with actors as good as Mark and Jas does really bring things to life as well as adding a spark and positive dynamic into the whole training experience. Essentially bringing a bit of drama into what can be a mundane learning experience.

I can guarantee that when I meet the folks from Pulkovo later today that they will remember many of the activities we undertook and hopefully will have retained and used some of the learning –we will see; maybe they won’t even recognise me! Or maybe I will have to take my clothes off for them to remember me ????

…. bizarrely after our training sessions in Iceland the whole group went to The Blue Lagoon where we stripped off and got into the warm waters… it was certainly a different ending to most training – half naked soaking wet and drinking a beer. Actually this is how most of our training sessions end up..!

So we will see how the Russian market is shaping up and hold our breath for future opportunities half naked or otherwise …

PAUL’S BLOG Russia: Culture Clash at the Consulate!

Following on from our anti-bullying theatre project in Germany (see previous post) it reminds me of a classic scenario from May last year …

…running training for The British Consulate in St Petersburg, focussing on Bullying and Harassment in the workplace (how did I ever get here..?).

This is a serious issue for many companies and organisations (whether they know it or not..) but somehow it just makes me smile… Bullying and Harassment for the British Consulate..??!!

Staff surveys at The Consulate in Moscow and St Petersburg show there is an issue. This is not unusual nor surprising. And actually the fact they are addressing it is positive and unusual. When you dig a little the idea of harassment is not so much dignity based but more about workload and expectations placed upon each other and of course the dynamics of workplace culture.

Culture clashes are most interesting I find with organisations that work internationally. Bullying and harassment is very interesting when it comes to mixed cultures… what goes for acceptable in Italy is going to cause great angst in UAE… most cultures create a positive collision rather than a clash but it is always interesting. I found this working on projects in Romania, South Africa and Central Europe with international partners having very different expectations of behaviours, but the Russian/UK work cultures provide particularly challenging scenarios

Most staff working in The Consulate will be Russian. They will speak English of course, and most of their interaction will be with fellow Russians both in the workplace and with the public.

So as a theatre director coming in and not an expert in B & H I have to do my research …Particularly on the legal situation. The legal employment contracts in Consulate are Russian but influenced by British standards and thinking. Feedback during the session is that Russian employment law is lacking focus on areas such as Bullying and Harassment so the boundaries here are blurred. This is clearly part of the challenge. What are the rules and how are they interpreted (literally) and enforced?

My workshop time is limited to just under two hours. So all I can do in this short time is look at case studies, challenge thinking, and get some personal pledges in place. Mostly it is about un-blurring the edges of acceptability. It is a bit like “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it” (as in Potter Stewart The United States Supreme Court Justice on his definition of Pornography…)


However we have to create some firmer rules of ‘engagement’ as well as support a culture shift.

Most people can broadly define Bullying and Harassment but as you focus down into specifics then personalities and context get in the picture and definitions of acceptability become more challenging. One interesting area that came up was workload – was it bullying to get people to work late or ask them to come in on the weekend to complete work ? for some no, for others yes – it is about the amount of workload, how it is managed, how it is shared out and most of all expectations and communicating with each other.

For me this subject comes down to broad understanding for an organisation then specific context for individuals – it is about creating a culture where people have empathy and understanding and where perception is taken into consideration as well as rules.

It comes back to the core fundamentals of all organisations and people that work for them – can you bring to life two key dynamics;

  1. Have a great attitude
  2. Do the right thing

In the world of B and H the second dynamic is key…

I left with them inspired (I hope) to at least focus on the one thing they can control – look after themselves – and if they are bullies (real or perceived) to challenge their own behaviour…

I would tell you more – but then I’d have to kill you…