“This is not my Ukraine.” Conclusions from the discussion about theatrical identity

“This is not my Ukraine.”  Conclusions from the discussion about theatrical identity

The cultural community discusses the discussion “Ukrainian theatrical identity”, which took place on May 22 in the theater of Lesya Ukrainka. Until recently, the “Theater of Russian Drama” held a conversation within the framework of the Start creative residency. 5 Ukrainian directors and no female director were invited to the discussion. The following participated in the discussion: Kyrylo Kashlikov (general director-artistic director of the National Theater named after Lesya Ukrainka); Dmytro Bogomazov (chief director of the I. Franko National Academic Drama Theatre); Andrii Bilous (director – artistic director of the Kyiv National Academic Young Theater); Davyd Petrosyan (director-producer of the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theater, Podol Theater); Ivan Uryvskyi (stage director of the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre). According to the caption under the video of the discussion, which lasted almost 2 hours, the organizers planned to talk “about radical changes in the theater, the Ukrainian theatrical avant-garde, cooperation with modern playwrights, collaborations with European theaters, the influence of funding on the performance and much more.” However, starting with the first question, whether the full-scale war had an effect on the directors’ productions, to which Mr. Kyrylo Kashlikov was the first to answer, the speakers’ answers seemed rather “cautious” and not always specific. The same applied to the issue of theatrical representation of Ukraine abroad and work with social topics – the LGBTQ+ community, harassment, domestic violence. As a result of the “discussion”, feedback from representatives of the theater community began to appear. Director Stas Zhirkov, who works abroad, also wrote feedback. UP.Zhyttia reprints the review with the permission of the author. Regarding the discussion. 1. I respect one of the members of the discussion and it is important for me to say so. Who exactly – I will not write. I think it is clear from my biography. I am grateful to him. 2. The discussion itself, even on “rewind”, does not cause shame, but rather physical pain. The number of ridiculous jokes and the level of sexism, misunderstanding and boasting is staggering. 3. It has been said many times, but it is not enough. There is no “European theater”. There are German, Polish, Lithuanian, French, and Italian theaters. And even in the same city, theaters and systems are different. All this is due to the fact that none of the directors (with the exception of one, only once) staged anything and anywhere except Ukraine (and also Russia, it is obvious). Lack of knowledge is the biggest problem of our theater. And no. Not the biggest. The lack of desire for this knowledge is where the trouble lies. 4. Listening to theses about the “little Ukrainian”, “speculations on the war” is simply nauseating. Again, all this is due to lack of experience. I will speak from my own experience – speculation and propaganda is something that is almost impossible in a good, serious German theater. You are surrounded by incredible professionals who have a lot of hesitation and questions, a lot of experience – they just won’t let you do “whatever you want”. Read also: Important premieres 2022: how Ukrainian theaters created miracles under fire I worked with very serious playwrights (it’s not a playwriter, it’s something else) this season and I know what it’s like to work on a play in a highly professional environment. Maja Zade, Birgit Längers, Martin Valdes-Stabau, Katinka Dekke are the tops of the German-language theater in the section – playwrights (again, this is not about writing texts, this is a very influential position in the German-language theater). I don’t know how it works in the independent sector, but in the German public sector, when you work at the highest level, it’s very difficult to screw up. 5. “These performances are made for grants… you can do whatever you want there… only expats and refugees go to them… locals are not interested in it…” etc. It’s just shameful and disgusting to listen to. Have you been to performances made by Ukrainians in Poland, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland? Did you read the press? Maybe you have been to festivals where these performances were held? God, where did this inferiority come from? Where does this “cheap expertise” come from? The viewers of most of the projects are Europeans, who learn about our history and our country in this way, in this way they learn about where their taxes go, for which they provide us with weapons and aid. Yes. This is the way. Read also: To the sound of a siren and remembering the overthrown Kateryna: a Hutsul western is being rehearsed in Odesa’s Vasylko theater Again, I speak from my own experience. This season. Only Germany and Switzerland. “Schaubüne” Berlin, “Kamerspiele” Munich, Dusseldorf Theater, Theater of the City of Zurich, now – National Theater of the City of Mannheim. Do you understand the level of these theaters, especially some of them? Some of these theaters are known all over the world, for example, Zurich is opening Avignon this year, but I’m just silent about the Schaubune and Kamerspiel. That is, it is not just “someone there, something there”. These are serious, powerful theaters that gave us the opportunity to talk about our war and our history, to speak alongside the Germans and Swiss, to do important cultural and diplomatic work and at the same time artistic work. This season, all our projects received incredible press. Everyone Their press is not our press. If the press is good – people buy tickets, this is a huge influence on spectators and pros. After each premiere, at least 5-6 reviews. That’s right. ALL of these reviews are extremely successful. It was a big surprise for everyone. Read also: The Germans asked where is the limit of Russia’s toxic influence: in Stuttgart they showed the play “Mother of Gorky” Surprise and success. Success and publicity. Publicity is attention. Attention to the Ukrainian theater and our war. Cynically? Maybe But that’s how this world works. If you want to be heard, you have to SPEAK. We are silent to the world. Culture is silent. The Armed Forces speaks, the president speaks. The “domestic joys” of the Ukrainian theater are of no interest to anyone and have no effect on anything. I will return to the performances. “Arming against a sea of ​​calamities” from “Schaubüne” – the prestigious “Lessingtage” festival in Hamburg and a tour in Dusseldorf, a repertory performance in Berlin, already invited to other festivals. “NEWS FROM THE PAST” from Kamerspille, in addition to its native stage, was played twice in the “Dachau” memorial-museum, was on tour in Dusseldorf, in June will take part in the “Performing Exiles” festival in Berlin, in autumn will go to the festival in Lithuania. “Odyssey” from Dusseldorf, in addition to repertory performances, was presented at the prestigious festival for young directors in Munich “Radical Jung”. “Antigone of Buchi” in Zurich has incredible success in the press, which is very difficult in Switzerland and has only started its journey – festivals and tours are ahead. “Diary of a Civilian” from Alytus theater (Lithuania) was already performed at the festival in Sakartvelo and these days will be performed in Klaipėda at the local show case for international guests and theater professionals from all over the world. A photo from the play “Odyssey” adorns the cover of the “Theater Heute” magazine, a photo of actor Oleg Stefan and an interview with him inside during rehearsals in Berlin – on the cover of another theater magazine in Germany. And this is just a part of what our team has done. Where is speculation, pity, inferiority? How is this…… 6. Reflections on grants – both funny and sad. There is nothing to even comment. That’s why you don’t have these grants, friends. 7. The tone and style of talking about social issues and LGBTQ is beyond my understanding and perception. At that moment I thought – what if I make subtitles and show it to one of my German colleagues? It became embarrassing. 8. In general, some parts of the conversation, phrases and tone are something from the USSR, which, of course, is a shame, because at least two of the participants in the process should have been in conflict with other participants in the discussion… I can write many more points, but all this is so sad and it’s disgusting that I just don’t have the strength anymore. Read also: Ukrainian theater abroad: performances and projects that create an impression of Ukraine I sincerely believe that this discussion (by the way, along with the audience’s reaction) is not my Ukraine and not my Ukrainian theater. My Ukrainian theater and the people of this theater are completely different – they are smart, modern, critical, they learn and develop, they clearly know the direction of their country and the theater of this country. The boys and girls who defend this Ukraine and this theater at the front every day make it possible to believe that the best is ahead. But this is the best by far. If your country is going to Europe, you must clearly understand that the theater should be at the forefront of these events. It was not for nothing that Kurbas said – the theater should be the way society should be tomorrow… We have to choose our path, because now there is none. There are many systems and options. There is French or German, Polish, British. There is no Ukrainian. If you want, I will write even more harshly – Ukrainian theater for the world almost does not exist. He is only in our imagination, in our head, in our very narrow understanding of theater, in our “box”. In order to change the situation, you need to work, develop and learn. We will be able to give something to this world only when we gain knowledge and understanding, learn to live differently inside the theaters and outside, because what happens in our theaters, the style of interaction and work is a creaky dark forest, a dormant Middle Ages – and this discussion is evident demonstrated Not everywhere, not in all theaters, not with all directors and directors, but with the majority… There is a war going on in Ukraine, but Ukraine is very dependent on Europe. And therefore the impact on Europe should be different. Including through the theater. full stop

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