Bogdonoff returns to stage as interest in nature emerges

Noah Bogdonoff ’14, a former Drama major and now an Environmental Studies one, took a hiatus from theater after his collaborative play “Merely [B******],” an exploration of women in Shakespeare. Photo By: Student '14
Noah Bogdonoff ’14, a former Drama major and now an Environmental Studies one, took a hiatus from theater after his collaborative play “Merely Bitches,” an exploration of women in Shakespeare. Photo By: Tim Serkes
Noah Bogdonoff ’14, a former Drama major and now an Environmental Studies one, took a hiatus
from theater after his collaborative play “Merely [B******],” an exploration of women in Shakespeare. Photo By: Student ’14
[Correction (Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019): The original version of this article stated that the title of Bogdonoff’s play was “Merely Bitches.” In fact, the title of his play was “Merely [B******].”] 
Noah Bogdonoff ’14 combines his passions for drama and nature to gain insight into culturally relevant issues. Last year, Bogdonoff in collaboration with the acting troupe Merely Players wrote and directed a play titled “Merely [B******]” exploring gender issues through the eyes of women in Shakespeare. “‘Merely [B******]’ was definitely a collaboration that needed a huge amount of trust,” Bogdonoff said.

This was Bogdonoff’s first time in the director’s chair,  having had several acting roles in other productions. The play, however, was written and rehearsed only a month before the first show.

“We were rehearsing lines that had been written the night before,” he recalled.  He explained that writing with cast input allowed him to more deeply and genuinely explore topics such as feminism and relationship abuse.

Since the resounding success of the play, Bogdonoff has been taking a break from theater. Considering that he decided to switch his major from Drama to Environmental Studies at the end of his sophomore year, he understood the need for a reprieve.

“If you told me that I wouldn’t be doing theater for a semester I would wonder what you were talking about. If you told me two years ago that I would be majoring in environmental studies I wouldn’t believe you then either,” he said.

Public performance had always played an important role in his life, beginning when his parents encouraged him to take violin lessons at the age of five. He found that at such a young age, expression through music was more natural than through words. “It was a good way to channel emotions and other things that I couldn’t verbalize,” he said.

Having switched gears from music to drama during high school, Bogdonoff came to Vassar with every intention of pursuing drama, but after a summer internship on a farm in his home state of Connecticut, he had a life-changing experience that helped him decide to pursue Environmental Studies.

His experience took place on a farm which served as an artist’s retreat. Here, he got to work on a short story, titled Cimery Lake, which is currently in the process of being published with a literature professor from Rutgers University.

The story is an exploration of a man’s relationship to himself, his lover, and the concept of the wilderness. Bogdonoff gained inspiration for his story while on the farm, and this new environment fostered different avenues of creativitiy. During his internship, an adult deer had been hit by a car and left behind a baby doe. Unfortunately, none of the surrounding animal shelters could take the animal in.

The owner of the farm decided to temporarily take in the deer, and Bogdonoff volunteered to personally tend to it. After two weeks of bottle feeding and playing with the other animals on the farm, the deer disappeared into the wild.

Bogdonoff thought that the deer had been eaten by a pack of coyotes, but a month or two after he left he was told that the same doe had been spotted playing with the owner’s dogs, just like she had done when Bogdonoff cared for her.

Right now, Bogdonoff’s biggest commitments include helping coordinate the divestment campaign through Vassar Greens, along with his artistic endeavors., He continues to write short stories and poetry, in addition to taking violin lessons. He is also gearing up for an internship in Nicaragua this upcoming summer, a nation he has done service work for in the past.

Bogdonoff participated in the Vassar Jewish Union’s (VJU) trip to Nicaragua last spring break.to support the NGO, Asociacion Fenix. The participating VJU students worked on sustainability projects in the developing nation, with a particular focus on developing water purification methods.

Most groundbreaking for Bogdonoff is his upcoming reemergence in the Vassar student theater scene. “I knew that I needed to get back into theater or at least some form of public art.” More specifically, he is currently working on the early stages of a production in conjunction with Arianna Gass ‘13, herself currently dramaturg for the Drama department’s senior project , The Cripple of Inishmann.

He remains tight-lipped about the details but explained the show would be something completely different from conventional theater. He promised that the upcoming production, which will most likely be premiering this semester, will be an exciting show as well as very intimate.

Bogdonoff has made it readily apparent that the ways in which he has grown and matured during the hiatus has made it possible not only to return to drama, but to direct, as well.

“At the beginning of college I really struggled with my identity as an artist. As soon I gave up art as the central aspect of my identity, I was able to enjoy it for the first time, not mingled with anything like a sense of competition or as a desire to use it as therapy.”

Although no one can say for sure what toexpect from Bogdonoff, it is certain that it will be worth the wait.

“I feel as though a lot of people don’t ever stop to think that life isn’t predictable…and maybe that’s what makes it exciting. That’s been my journey at Vassar and I hope forever,” he said.

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