Pussy Riot, the legendary Russian feminist protest band, performs Thursday in Olympia as part of the world-premiere tour of its first theater project.
The band is stopping in Olympia because of its connection with legendary Olympia feminist protest band Bikini Kill.
“One of the main inspirations for Pussy Riot was the Bikini Kill group,” Maria “Masha” Alyokhina, one of the band’s leaders, said in a phone interview Thursday from Moscow. “Last year, we were in Olympia, and we met Tobi Vail, who used to be the drummer for Bikini Kill.
“She was one of the most amazing people whom I met in the United States.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Olympian
The band passed through Olympia in February 2016 while on a speaking tour that stopped in Seattle and Portland.
“I only had time to say hello and get coffee, but it was really cool to meet up,” Vail said in an email Friday. “I look forward to seeing them again.”
She was a vocal supporter of the band after three band members were arrested in 2012, when the group staged a protest in a Moscow cathedral. Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced to two years in penal colonies. Yekaterina Samutsevich appealed and was sentenced to probation.
There was an international outcry about the arrests. Amnesty International declared the women “prisoners of conscience.”
Vail wrote articles and did interviews about the women’s plight and recorded a song, “Free Pussy Riot,” to raise awareness.
“Pussy Riot propels punk into the 21st century, presenting a new model for the creation of a culture of protest outside of capitalism,” Vail wrote in “Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer for Freedom,” a 2013 compilation published by Feminist Press. “Put on a balaclava, pick up a guitar, and hit the streets. ... We are all Pussy Riot.”
When she met members of the band last year, Vail suggested they look into performing at the Capitol Theater the next time they were in the Northwest.
Alyokhina felt an immediate connection to Olympia.
“I’ve seen just like a small, small, small part of Olympia,” she said, “but I want to come back there and show the group the city. I felt the authentic spirit.”
Thursday’s show is a multimedia presentation featuring Alyokhina, other members of the band, and Russian artists. It is based on Alyokhina’s book “Revolution,” which tells the band’s story from early protests through the trial and imprisonment.
The story of “Revolution” is a universal one, she said, comparing the protests the group staged in 2011 and 2012, when Vladimir Putin was running for president, to the Women’s March and other protests happening around the world since the election of President Donald Trump.
“They are not just reactions,” she said. “Trump is just the reason, but the protests are a cultural phenomenon.”
The band has taken on Trump directly with the song and video “Make America Great Again,” released in October. The video shows a dystopian world where Trump, played by one of the band members, is the president.
“Revolution” will be performed later this month at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, and in Brooklyn, New York. Alyokhina wants to take the show back to Russia, where access to the group’s work is restricted.
“Our songs and videos are considered extremist by the government,” she said, “but we want to try to show them and to perform them again. We feel that people need them. We have a celebration of 100 years since the Russian Revolution this year in Russia.
“If not now, then when?”
Pussy Riot Theater: ‘Revolution’
What: The Russian punk protest band, which made international headlines when members were convicted in Russia of hooliganism, performs in Olympia on the world-premiere tour of its first multimedia theater project.
When: 9 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Capitol Theater, 205 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia.
Tickets: $25 general admission, $20 for Olympia Film Society members.
More information: olympiafilmsociety.org/pussyriottheater
Seattle premiere: “Revolution” makes its world premiere at 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., Seattle. Tickets are $25. 206-441-4618, thecrocodile.com.