Anthony Nikolchev




Actor and writer Anthony Nikolchev presents the Chicago premiere of his solo show, “Look, What I Don’t Understand,” as part of Thirteen Pocket’s first season devoted to original works.  This one-man drama accesses the historical narratives experienced by Nikolchev’s family during their 1960s escape from the totalitarian hostility of communist Bulgaria to detainment in America, challenging himself and audiences to comprehend the experience of past generations through the perspective of present generations.  Told through the words of a middle-aged Bulgarian immigrant at the gates of the US border, “Look, What I Don’t Understand” integrates documentary theater with fictional narrative while exercising the audience’s ability to process the alleged objectivity of history. 

The issue of immigrant rights in the United States has become more complicated since the great migrations through Ellis Island a century ago, and this show attempts to remind Americans that this country was once, and still is, a revered destination for many seeking freedom and opportunity.  Addressing issues of immigration, American and Eastern European nationalism and the ongoing struggle to understand our pasts, “Look, What I Don’t Understand” is a play as well as examination of what it really means to be an immigrant, or the child of one. 

Five directors – including a dance choreographer, film director, writer and Obama field organizer – were employed to bring as many different perspectives to one story as possible, in order to reflect the myriad of ways one historical event can be interpreted.  During the majority of the two month rehearsal process, none of the directors saw each other’s sections; they only worked with the script segment they had chosen at the first rehearsal. Only in the final two weeks did they all meet to seam together an historical narrative that was no longer about one American immigrant, but about any American immigrant.  Yuriy Kordonskiy served as the supervising director, working only with the play once the four sections had been stitched together.  The show runs about 90 minutes with no intermission.  Post-show discussions with Nikolchev and guests will be held following the Sunday matinees on January 11, 18, 25, and February 1, 2009 (free with paid ticket).


Press opening on Thursday, January 8, 2009, 8 p.m.

Closes on Sunday, February 1, 2009.

Runs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3 p.m.

No previews


Athenaeum Theatre Studio 1, 2936 N. Southport Chicago, IL 60657

Handicapped accessible, Wellington Brown line El stop

Some street parking; small paid parking lot behind theatre Oakdale St. entrance;

second parking lot on corner of Southport Ave. and Oakdale St. (enter on Southport)


Publish this number:  312-902-1500, 

Also Athenaeum Theatre Box Office; HotTix

$15 for all regular performances

$10 for students and seniors with ID, and for each in groups of 10 or more   

$10 for industry members on Sunday shows (with resume/headshot)     

Joe Stankus (part 1 director and film director), Lily Wahrman (part 2 director and writer), Justin Denis (part 3 director and political activist, most recently an Obama campaign field organizer), Jane Kaufman (part 4 director and dance choreographer), Yuriy Kordonskiy (unification director and actor, director, theatre professor), Anna Martin (Lighting Design), Anthony Nikolchev (Set Design), Jack L. Johnson (Sound Design), Jon Sirlin (Sound Design) and Thirteen Pocket (Co-Producer).


Nikolchev and Kordonskiy are recipients of a Wesleyan University Project Grant.


Anthony Nikolchev (playwright/performer) grew up in California’s bay area, and graduated in 2008 from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.  Chicago acting credits include “Get Right” (Thirteen Pocket), and understudy for “The Brothers Karamazov” (Lookingglass). He has directed (as well as designed sets for) “The Exonerated” and an original adaptation of “Life and Death in the Charity Ward” (based on the short story by Charles Bukowski) at Wesleyan University. University acting credits include Oedipus in “Oedipus Rex” (directed by Yuriy Kordonskiy), “Peer Gynt” (directed by Kordonskiy), and “The Deceased Woman.”  Additional training includes the California State Summer School for the Arts (CalArts), The San Francisco Mime Troupe, The Hangar Theater Lab Co. (Ithaca, NY), during which performances included the lead in “Hamlet: First Person Singular,” “The Little Prince,” and “Blue Eyes Black Hair.” 

Yuriy Kordonskiy (unification director) studied acting and directing in Russia, in St. Petersburg State Academy of Theatre Arts, and has taught, performed, and directed internationally since 1989. As a performer and director, he toured in more than 20 countries and conducted workshops in Russia, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Romania. His recent directing credits include his original play “Disappearance” and Lorca’s “House of Bernarda Alba” (Maly Drama Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia); plus “Uncle Vanya,” “The Marriage by Gogol” and “Crime and Punishment” (Bulandra Theatre, Bucharest, Romania); “A Cabal of Hypocrites,” “Peer Gynt,” and “Oedipus Rex” (Wesleyan University, CT); and “A Diary of a Madman” (West End Theatre, Gloucester, MA), among others. His productions have won numerous international awards, including Golden Light (St. Petersburg); Best Production (Union of European Theatres, Palermo); and Best Production, Best Director, and Special Prize of Romanian Ministry of Culture (Bucharest). He has taught acting and directing at Wesleyan University, Columbia University, George Washington University and Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.