A tiny English-language Kyiv theatre turned ‘artwork shelter’ goes to battle

A tiny English-language Kyiv theatre turned ‘artwork shelter’ goes to battle

Issued on: 21/03/2022 – 13:49 The ProEnglish Theatre was once often called a small impartial Kyiv ensemble that placed on English-language performs and provided drama lessons. However within the 4 weeks since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the theatre has turn into an “artwork shelter”, the place actors come collectively to bear witness to

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The ProEnglish Theatre was once often called a small impartial Kyiv ensemble that placed on English-language performs and provided drama lessons. However within the 4 weeks since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the theatre has turn into an “artwork shelter”, the place actors come collectively to bear witness to battle atrocities and scale an all-out creative resistance. FRANCE 24 went to fulfill the troupe decided to assist Ukraine win the battle towards Russia.

On February 24, Alex Borovensky, the director of the ProEnglish Theatre, obtained a telephone name telling him that war had broken out and that Russian tanks had entered Ukraine. “I hung up, after which I heard explosions, after which sirens. It was unreal, I didn’t need to imagine what was occurring. My companion and I packed our baggage and determined to take shelter within the theatre, which is situated in a basement. On the finish of the day, all of us watched Mission Unimaginable 4 collectively, as a result of on the finish of the movie, Tom Cruise destroys the Kremlin.”

In just some brief days, the actor and former English trainer had turn into a resistance fighter. The home windows of the theatre overlooking the road have been secured, and the efficiency corridor has been was a dormitory the place folks dwelling within the constructing can take shelter at night time at any time when town’s air raid alarms ring out. Borovensky can be serving to to unfold details about what is occurring in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine by talking to English-language media. When humanitarian assist vans roll into town, he helps unload and distribute the products within the neighbourhood surrounding the theatre. Survival and solidarity is the order of the day.

“On daily basis, folks ask me to come back and take refuge with them, however I need to keep right here. I need to see what is occurring with my very own eyes. Artwork is my resistance, and that’s what I need to share, that’s why I’m staying in Kyiv.”

A barricade has been mounted near the Kyiv theatre on Smolenska Street, on March 20,  2022.
A barricade has been mounted close to the Kyiv theatre on Smolenska Avenue, on March 20, 2022. © David Gormezano, FRANCE 24

On this Sunday, March 20, the 25th day of Russia’s battle towards Ukraine, the unreal has turn into the brand new regular in Kyiv. There’s at present a wierd calm reigning over town, sometimes disrupted by the boring rumble of Ukrainian anti-aircraft defence programs. Prior to now few days, Russian missiles have hit condominium buildings and killed a number of folks, all of the whereas army-to-army clashes proceed some 30 kilometres north of the capital. The clear blue sky and the warming rays of the solar appear to point that spring is approaching. Borovensky and his associates have subsequently determined to take the break day to loosen up.

“There is no such thing as a huge bombing so we’re venturing out a bit of extra within the metropolis, we’re beginning to drive round Kyiv once more. However there have been direct strikes on town. One in all them hit a constructing subsequent to the place one of many theatre’s actresses stay and the home windows of her condominium exploded. So we’re ready to see what occurs.”

Resisting and creating

Though the battle is progressively taking a deeper maintain on town, the small ensemble of actors of their 30s haven’t given up on their ambitions. Tetiana Shelepko, an actress and director, is within the midst of placing on a play by Harold Pinter, “The New World Order”. On March 27 it will likely be broadcast stay and be proven at a number of theatres in Germany, Slovakia and Portugal. For her, it’s important to maintain on performing. “In wartime, the theatre turns into a shelter for the soul, it helps you to escape from the insanity of battle,” she defined.

Alex Borovensky, Tetiana Shelepko rehearse their plays which will soon be performed before a local audience as well as several European theatres via streaming.
Alex Borovensky, Tetiana Shelepko rehearse their performs which is able to quickly be carried out earlier than a neighborhood viewers in addition to a number of European theatres by way of streaming. © David Gormezano, FRANCE 24

Borovensky is of the identical mindset and is at present getting ready a efficiency primarily based on Australian creator Markus Zuzak’s novel “The Ebook Thief”. “It’s a monologue that takes place in a bomb shelter – our very personal theatre! It will likely be streamed by completely different theatres all over the world who’ve expressed curiosity within the challenge. As soon as Ukraine has gained the battle, we are going to go on a giant tour, in lots of cities, to verify this may by no means occur once more.”

Help the military!

Each Borovensky and Shelepko agree that it isn’t sufficient for the artwork world to easily condemn Russia’s battle on Ukraine. “When you [the West] need to assist Ukrainian refugees or Ukrainian artists, donate cash to the Ukrainian military, there’s an account that has been opened for that and it takes donations in all currencies. For me, it’s apparent: you must deal with the foundation of the issue; the Russian Federation and its military. In any other case you gained’t resolve the issue.”

Because the colleagues come collectively to have a cup of espresso, their faces develop darker. Kyiv could be enveloped in a brief sense of calm proper now, however every day brings new horrific information, such because the latest Russian bombing of a Mariupol theatre, the place a number of hundred folks had sought refuge. The violent assaults on the seaside metropolis of 400,000 has solely angered and galvanised Ukrainians much more. “I’m indignant. This has to cease. I believe we additionally must boycott the Russian cultural world – with out hesitation – as a result of Russia is killing my nation,” Borovensky mentioned.

‘Europe lives in a Harry Potter world’

Shelepko additionally shared her anger and frustration at Europe’s perspective towards the battle. “Europe resides in an phantasm. It appears to be dwelling in some form of Completely happy Potter world, pretending that what’s happening isn’t actually occurring. The ‘ministry of magic’ gained’t make the Russian Military go away,” she mentioned.

Bogdan, a Ukrainian journalist who has additionally joined the “artwork shelter” on Smolenska Avenue, mentioned Europe has been ignoring the hazard of Russia. “After the annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin multiplied the variety of press conferences praising Russia’s rearmament and improvement of latest ultra-sophisticated weapons, and your leaders didn’t appear to pay any consideration to that, they continued to purchase Russian oil and fuel as if nothing had occurred. Putin has been getting ready for battle for eight years now; for us it’s been apparent all alongside.”

Alex Borovensky, the director of the theatre, says Ukraine must above all count on itself to win the war.
Alex Borovensky, the director of the theatre, says Ukraine should above all rely on itself to win the battle. © David Gormezano, FRANCE 24

Though all of them really feel Europe has turned a blind eye to the Russian menace, Borovensky and Shelepko and their associates are steadfast of their conviction that Ukraine will win this battle. “Supporting the military is essential, however we’ve to recollect to additionally assist the nation as an entire. If our financial system retains on churning, then Russia might be defeated,” Borovensky mentioned. As a ultimate contact, the actor-turned-resistance-fighter underscored the truth that Russia has for greater than three weeks tried – however failed – to enter Kyiv. “The Russian military is weak, rusty and disorganised. If a small corrupt nation like ours can defeat it, there is no such thing as a must worry. What’s Europe afraid of?”

This text has been translated from the original in French.

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