By Robert W. Dalton

When the set designer, lighting director and the villain in Pulp Theatre’s production of “The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls” have a meeting, Joanna Burgess ’22 does all the talking.

That’s because Burgess, a physics and theatre double major from Clinton, South Carolina, has all three jobs.

“These are all things I have a passion for, and it’s been really fun,” Burgess says. “It’s been a lot of work, but we have a great crew that has helped make the vision a reality.”

Pulp Theatre is an Interim project that allows students to take the lead in all aspects of a production. The four-week term concludes with performances scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (Jan. 27-29) in the Sallenger Sisters Black Box Theatre inside the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts. Performances are free and open to the public.

“The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls” tells the story of Annie, a 20-year-old who returns to Russia to lose her American accent. She finds that her home country is filled with wicked witches and ravenous bears.

Burgess plays Baba Yaga, a witch. It’s her first time playing a “bad guy.”

“It presented a lot of challenges,” Burgess says. “It was a good lesson in acting.”

Annie Puckett ’24 and Nadia Drahun ’25 won’t be on stage during the production, but they did have a key role in getting the play there.

Puckett, a psychology major from Greenville, South Carolina, and Drahun, an undeclared major from Greenville, created a pronunciation guide for the Russian words in the play. Puckett, the dramaturg for the production, read through the script and picked out the Russian terms. She then enlisted Drahun, whose family moved to the United States from Belarus when she was 4, to translate.

Hailie Gold ’23, an English and theatre double major from Simpsonville, South Carolina, is directing the play. She says there have been some challenges, including having a lead actor test positive for COVID right out of the gate.

“We’re very fortunate to have people who are so dedicated to their craft,” Gold says. “I knew I wanted a play that would highlight our young women. Being able to present a vision that I believe in, a story that is colorful and fun that I can relate to and other young women can relate to, has been beautiful and sometimes unbelievable.”