Coda Live: Coda’s Stories Brought to Life

Coming from the Czech Republic, a little country occupied by Russia in the past, I felt connected to the stories at Coda Live, Coda Story’s hour-long live story-telling session at the first day of ZEG. The three stories, produced by Isobel Cockerell, focused on Georgia’s big brother, Russia.

Matthew Janney, a British-Georgian journalist and rugby player, told the story of searching for his identity in the first of the three performances. His journey went through Britain and Russia, ending in Tbilisi, as he uncovered his family history: he was Georgian. Ironically, the first rugby match he played with the Georgian national team was against Russia.

Janney’s story and the public’s reaction — a happy cheer — was a familiar scene for me. Czechs feel the same when playing against Russians.

Some say it’s only a game, but for Georgians and Czechs, it’s certainly more. It’s a symbolic, and patriotic, battlefield.

"HOW DO YOU STAND UP TO AND PROSECUTE A COUNTRY?"

But that sense of excitement quickly eroded when the second speaker of Coda Live took the stage: Anna Holligan’s immersive story dived into the disinformation surrounding the downing of flight MH17over Ukraine in 2014.

Immersed into the story, filled with sorrow, helplessness, the entire audience probably asked themselves the same question: how do you stand up to and prosecute a country — such as Russia. Not only does Russia deny having downed MH17, it’s also been spreading disinformation blaming others.

"Average Russian citizens
still have some power left"

In stark contrast to Anna’s sober Coda Live on MH17, the final live journalism experience started with a loud, energetic beat and a satirical viral video — and two energetic elderly Russian woman wanting change. Last year, Coda Story’s video interviewing them went viral. But why did they make the video?

As Dasha Tarasova pointed out, the journalist covering the story, the viral videos were a parody on a parody on a parody. And all to support the very first video: a group of first-year Russian air-transport cadets parodying “I can’t get no satisfaction’ (a parody video in itself) who were subsequently expelled for their “outrageous “ behavior. But people swept to their aid, including the two babushkas, who re-enacted their video in an old apartment in St. Petersburg. And as a massive surprise, they joined us at Coda Live!

I, personally, was incredibly impressed with their passion and desire for change. As both ladies stressed, Russians are not living, but surviving. But Ksenia and Nataliya are living proof that average Russian citizens still have some power left, even in a centralized country such as Russia.

By Karol Bohacova