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Highlight: 'Boris Godunov' Collaboration

pubs collection

Project: The world premiere of "Boris Godunov" in April 2007 was a vast endeavor that spanned numerous University departments and exemplified Princeton's mission to enhance the role of the creative and performing arts on campus. The Berlind Theatre performance of Alexander Pushkin's play featured rediscovered music by composer Sergei Prokofiev and was inspired by the unrealized vision of Russian director Vsevolod Meyerhold. The project involved faculty and students from the Program in Theater and Dance, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of Music, School of Architecture, Princeton University Orchestra and Princeton University Chamber Choir. The project also included a campus exhibition, symposium and other academic initiatives. It was important to convey how the multifaceted effort came together through campus and international collaborations, as well as the musical, theatrical and historical significance of the performance's staging.

godunov exhibit

Communication Solutions: The communications staff worked together to provide sophisticated design, writing and editing, photography and media management. We helped organizers describe how the project came together, and generated interest in each "Godunov" event through distinctive publicity efforts. Our editors reviewed text for posters, signs, programs and invitations, and our designers helped organizers agree on a harmonious design concept that was tailored for each event through different artwork and presentations. Writers and photographers provided an in-depth look at the project's creative journey and collaborations with stories and photographs in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin and on the University website. We removed roadblocks by helping organizers achieve such goals as rights clearance for Web display of music. Our staff also created a video documentary, which highlighted the faculty organizers and student actors, musicians, dancers and set-designers involved with the performance; and worked with OIT to feature it on the University home page. Further, our media officers attracted interest from local, national and international media by distributing press releases about the project and performance, and arranging for media to attend the performance and interview faculty organizers. Working with staff at the University Library, we provided promotional materials for an exhibition about the cultural history behind the original story, music and early productions.

godunov book

Results: A unified communications campaign brought together the project's many components. Our publicity efforts recognized each event and University department connected to "Godunov," and also tied them together through complementary design concepts, comprehensive news coverage and multimedia presentations. Publicity efforts attracted theatergoers, scholars and critics from around the world to campus for sold-out performances and related Godunov events. Press coverage included the New York Times, BBC and various Russian media outlets. Publications created by our staff expressed the project's academic, artistic and global context. Presentations in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin and on the Web helped audiences understand the story behind "Godunov," how various University departments came together to stage the production, and how Princeton focuses on faculty, diversity, internationalism and leadership. Two years after the premiere, we helped put together a funding plan that led to the creation of a commemorative book that captures the excitement of “Godunov” through photos, an introduction about the significance of the production and synopses of 25 scenes. This keepsake provides a snapshot of the unique arts programs Princeton people produce.


godunov architectural model


godunov costume sketches


rehearsal 1



godunov orchestra


From top: From the creation of models of the set by architecture students to the design of costumes to rehearsals and the world premiere, each step in the production of "Boris Godunov" brought new opportunities for the Office of Communications staff to assist departments in telling the exciting story of campus and international collaborations and the significance of the performing arts at Princeton.

 Photos: Denise Applewhite