SKOP is a Russian theater-based festival, held annually in Cuddebackville, NY.
This weekend-long festival - the unofficial start of summer for those who attend - kicks off a series of festivals in this pocket of Upstate, NY; all thematically different, yet all geared toward, and attended by, those of the Russian diaspora. One is quickly struck by the camaraderie, generosity, and joie de vivre. People sharing food and homemade spirits, their personal stories and collective histories.
Participants of SKOP belong to self-assigned and formed groups. These groups, largely comprised of friends and family members, put on original plays. The short-form plays are farcical in nature, with references to Russian history and pop culture, although American culture and the immigrant experience play in heavily, as well, lending this festival something of a Borscht Belt quality.
In between the dozen or so sets, a genial master of ceremonies entertains the audience by telling jokes, spinning his own tales, and generally keeping a lively atmosphere as afternoon spills into evening and the early morning hours of the third and last day. The day prior and the one after the main event seem to be just as important to these revelers - one long weekend of communal outdoor living; raucous, diy, camp-like and multi-generational, with live music permeating everything.