Zhenya in Detroit

I met Gene (AKA Zhenya, Euvgene) in 2005 when we both worked at the Paramount in Wellington. We were fast friends and collaborated on a few projects together. (Maybe you remember this?) We’ve been in intermittent contact since I moved off the Long White Cloud.

Gene’s visited the U.S. a few times since then, but every time he’s been stateside I’ve either been too far away or too broke to see him. But a few weeks ago Gene ventured outside of New York City and went on an impromptu tour of some great American cities, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago.

I jumped on the chance to meet Gene in Detroit, a city that looked close enough on the map to justify jumping in without much of a game plan. I meant to spend a day with him but we ended up spending the long weekend together.


Gene filled me in on what he’s been up to for the past few years. Back in Wellington he had been performing a little, collaborating on a few shows, he started a theater company, produced some plays and even flew a director in from New York out for a production. But he told me, “I made a hundred bucks man, it just wasn’t worth it.” He swore theater off and focused on making music.

After several months of producing music and DJing in Wellington, Gene found himself in a Commedia del’Arte workshop given by this mad man. The work was powerful enough to inspire taking a significant risk, so after talking it over with Giovanni (the mad man) and Gene’s long time partner Erin, he took the plunge and for the past six months has been studying at Helikos, a small physical theater program in Florence, Italy.

As it turns out, the woman who gives the amazing red nose workshops I’ve been taking in Chicago, Paola Coletto worked with Giovanni to develop the previous incarnation of the school in the early 2000s. Small world right?