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The Night Garden: An Interview with the Directors

A Video Interview with Tom Pearson, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Renata Zhigulina, Anastasia Nesterova, Daria Karpova


The Night Garden is an experimental, movement-based short film, shot entirely on smart phones. Through a cartography of associations, imagery, and poetry, its surrealist episodes offer a harvest of ideas, images, and meditations for the dream feast.

The series of seven vignettes rendered from dreams and the unconscious conjures an array of characters and scenarios including: Chekhov in an existential crisis with Picasso’s Lover of Absinthe; a film noir that follows the dreams and waking trances of a man, a woman, and a herd of tiny cattle; a kaleidoscopic vision of a woman’s interactions with an imaginary friend and a ghost; a caterpillar woman’s transformation and foray into a garden of fountains and marble statues; three mythological creatures who unleash the contents of a jewel box; and a family confronting their heritage and communing with each other throughout the city and forest.

Co-created by Daria Karpova, Anastasia Nesterova, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Tom Pearson, and Renata Zhigulina, the episodes interweave characters, objects, and imagery that thread together a short film which follows a nightly dream sequence. The work is built through a practice of dream-sharing and associations. Filmed on location in St. Petersburg, Russia, The Night Garden is shot exclusively on smart phones (primarily iPhone 6).

Tom Pearson is an artist working in written media and performance. He is best known for his original works for theater, including the long-running immersive theater hits Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise, and as a founder and co-artistic director of the New York City-based performance company Third Rail Projects. He is also the director of the Global Performance Studio, an international program for cultural listening and exchange. Pearson was recently named among the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn culture by Brooklyn Magazine. His written work is available through his author page at

Daria Karpova is a multidisciplinary artist and performer from Moscow, Russia. She works in film, theatre, and written media. She graduated from the Highest Courses of Directors and Screenwriters (course under the supervision of Khotinenko, Finn, Fenchenko), an is the author and director of the films Volchok, Relatives, Anniversary, and others. Daria has been an actress in: Cake, dir. A. Korf; Ring, dir. A. Malishev; and more. She was also a dancer in the musical theatre projects Pola Negri and Juliette and Romeo by producer centre Let it Show (Moscow, St. Petersburg). She has performed in site-specific projects by Tom Pearson and Marissa Nielsen-Pincus. Daria is also a screenwriter of TV projects, and took a part as a First AD on Going Home, dir. D. Kurlaev and Find Me, dir. Valeria Semenchukova. Since 2012, she is a coach of bodily practice and stretching.

Anastasia Nesterova graduated from the Theatre Academy in St.Petersburg as a director and has worked in film, theatre, museum, and the multimedia technology industry. She is currently a creative producer in Show Consulting Studio. Working as a visual artist, she took part in over 30 TV projects as First AD. She has coordinated open-air festivals, business conferences, shows, museum installations, concerts, weddings and other events for companies such as: Mikhailovsky Theatre, Saint-Petersburg Ice Palace, Suvorovs Museum, State Museum Reserve Peterhof, New Stage of Aleksandrinsky Theatre, Gazprom, Discovery channel, GSK and more. She has directed several performances including: Poles in the Ocean, Translator #1 + Translator #2 for Manifesta 10, Cloud, Poets of the Plastic Age, Dormitory, Silenceб Short Story About Nika in UK, and Colorful St. Petersburg. Since 2016, she has been developing Playscape (which combines physical theater techniques and digital technology) in collaboration with Radiant IRIS company, Los Angeles).

Renata Zhigulina is a multidisciplinary artist and performer from St Petersburg, Russia. Combining various performance techniques gained from her art studies in St Petersburg, London and New York, she works within the mediums of movement, immersive theater, dance, poetry, video art. As a performer and collaborating artist, she has worked with such companies as Dzieci, Punchdrunk, and Third Rail Projects | Global Performance Studio. Renata is a tango dancer and creative director for Blind: Strength in Vulnerability, a performance by TangoForAll theatre/dance company, that premiered in BAM, New York in 2017.

Marissa Nielsen-Pincus is a performing artist, teacher and founding member of Third Rail Projects. Since 2011 she has been Third Rail Projects' Associate Artistic Director and is also the Rehearsal Director for Then She Fell. Originally from Portland, OR, Marissa studied contemporary dance in London at the London Studio Centre and moved to NYC in 2001. She is a certified Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner and teaches immersive performance skills and Body-Mind Centering® classes and workshops both nationally and internationally. She lives in Brooklyn with a man and a cat.


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