Ada Mukhína was born in 1988 to a Russian family with Jewish roots in what is known today as St. Petersburg, Russia (at that time the city was called Leningrad, USSR). She completed her first degree in civil law with distinction at the St. Petersburg Institute of Law named after Prince Oldenburgsky in 2010. During that time, she was actively involved in civic non-formal education projects, led the Street Law Clinic, and worked with various NGOs on topics of ecology, homelessness, and human rights.
In 2012, she founded the independent Theatre project Vmeste, which produced political, documentary, and participatory theatre projects inside and outside conventional theatre spaces. Its first documentary theatre performance, Fridge for Vanilla Ice-Cream, was created with St. Petersburg teenagers of different ethnicities and migration backgrounds in response to the rise of nationalistic marches under the motto “Russia for Russians”. Ada Mukhína curated and co-devised this piece with Ekaterina Maximova, Stas Svistunovich, and Alexandra Gorbova, and it premiered in 2013 in the Laboratory ON.Theatre. The audience was invited to step on stage and join a dialogue with the performed verbatim monologues about national identity, fear of others, and life in the multinational city. In the next two years, Ada Mukhína directed three other documentary theatre pieces with young adults in cooperation with the playwright Natasha Borenko that premiered at the Bolshoi Drama Theatre, Jewish Cultural Center ESOD, and Laboratory ON.Theatre. Together with Maria Kolosova and other collaborators, Ada Mukhína explored the possibilities of Theatre of the Oppressed with diverse communities in St. Petersburg and in exchange with cooperation partners in the North Caucasus and Rostov regions of Russia.
In 2015, Ada Mukhína defended her Master’s thesis about Socially Engaged Theatre as Interdisciplinary Art with distinction at the St. Petersburg Theatre Academy and moved for the first time to Berlin as a German Chancellor Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She researched socially engaged theatre and contemporary art and published multiple articles in Russian and German about the German scene in the online magazine of the Goethe-Institut St. Petersburg. In 2017, she had a directing internship on a Rimini Protokoll production at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus with the support of the the International Theatre Institute and Goethe-Institut’s grant programme for young international theatre-makers. Together with the Young Deutsches Theater in Berlin, she worked on the international theatre project about civil disobedience, Here.I.Stand., with young adults from Germany, Russia, and Poland. The same year, she presented her work internationally for the first time. A participatory performance Double Eagle. A Workshop for Russian Emigrants was devised in collaboration with Natasha Borenko and Maria Kolosova and presented at the International Community Arts Festival in the Netherlands. A documentary film, Vmeste. Teenage theatre against xenophobia, premiered at the ASSITEJ 19th International Theatre Festival for Young Audiences in South Africa.
Shortly afterwards, Ada Mukhína received a Chevening Scholarship to study at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. In 2018, she earned her second MA with distinction in Advanced Theatre Practice. She was invited to present her graduation performance series, Risk Lab, about risk in art and artists at risk at the Camden People’s Theatre in London. For each Risk Lab performance, Ada invites a different artist, who has a special relationship to risk in their work or life, to join her via video call in the theatre. Together they created a series of artistic provocations, invitations and suggestions for the audience to think about the meaning of risk in different contexts, question the role of art in modern society, and take action. The first two episodes of the series were created with Abhishek Thapar (India/the Netherlands) and Anis Hamdoun (Syria/Germany).
In 2019, Ada Mukhína and her collaborators won the Blackbox Residency of the Meyerhold Theatre Center in Moscow (shut down by Russian authorities in 2022 due to the artistic management’s antiwar statement). As a freelance theatre-maker, she created two theatre pieces there, together with Daria Iuriichuk, Olga Tarakanova, and Alena Papina. As an author’s collective, they devised Caries of Capitalism about precarity, money, and work conditions in the independent performing arts in Russia. Moreover, Ada Mukhína directed and performed in a feminist piece, Locker Room Talk, based on Gary McNair’s verbatim play about sexist language. Both performances were named the most notable theatre productions of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons in Russia by the Golden Mask theatre festival. In addition, Caries of Capitalism was nominated for the Grand Prize of the Sergey Kuryokhin Contemporary Art Award. A fragment of Locker Room Talk was presented at the Radar Ost Digital Festival at the Deutsches Theater Berlin as a part of a performative lecture about feminist theatre in Russia created with Olga Shilyaeva.
In 2020, Ada Mukhína received the Berlin Fellowship from the Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts) and moved to Germany again. The idea for the humorous project How to Sell Yourself to the West about the Western art market was conceived during the Young Academy residency. The eponymous lecture-performance was presented at the Deutsches Theater Berlin during the Radar Ost Festival in 2021. The following performance at the opening of the group exhibition What Matters in March 2022 was cancelled in solidarity with absent Ukrainian colleagues. The statement Why the performance “How to Sell Yourself to the West” is not taking place was presented as a part of an installation in the empty rooms at the Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts).
The third episode of the Risk Lab performance series, with the theatre-makers Anna Sagalchik and Tim Tkachev, explored the aftermaths of the suppression of political protests in Belarus. It was presented at the Radar Ost Festival at the Deutsches Theater Berlin in October 2021. In May 2022, Ada Mukhína invited a Russian theatre-maker in exile, Elina Kulikova, to take part in the fourth antiwar episode of Risk Lab from Tbilisi, where she fled after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The performance was presented at the festival of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (Georgetown University, Washington, DC). In September 2022, the fifth episode of Risk Lab with Anton Ryanov, a Russian artist with a personal experience of disability, was dedicated to inclusion in times of war and isolation. It premiered at the Grenzenlos Kultur Festival at the Staatstheater Mainz.
Since 2022, Ada Mukhína has been a member of the expert pool of the Performing Arts Programm Berlin, that provides consultations about orientation in the German cultural landscape for newly arrived artists in English, German, and Russian. Moreover, she is an adviser for international theatre festivals, a jury member, and a visiting lecturer at drama schools in the UK and Germany. Her texts about performing arts have been published in various languages. Click here to download Ada Mukhina’s full cv.