Culture In Depth, 21/11/2017

Who is Nurturing Ukrainian Critical Theater?

One can say that theaters in Ukraine are divided into two opposing categories: governmental and non-governmental theaters. The former seemingly still cherish post-soviet traditions, while the latter blossom in multiple new ways. In particular, they show fresh roots of socially responsible theater. Their independent projects are mostly financed by international donors. The most substantial among them are British Council, USAID, Goethe Institute and Polish Institute. In the last case, it is necessary to admit that Polish initiatives are literally nurturing new theater vanguard in Ukraine.

During the last ten years, Polish art curator Joanna Wichowska in collaboration with East European Performing Arts Platform made more for Ukrainian theater than the whole Ministry of Culture. One of her latest projects was a presentation of Ukrainian critical theater showcase. Jointly with Kharkiv director Roza Sarkisjan and The Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute, they have invited the most interesting projects from Lviv, Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv to Warsaw in November.

Each day after the shows, participants and spectators had extensive discussions about personal responsibility of artist’s public performance and aims of theater in civic society. Those discussions sometimes were as valuable as the shows themselves.

“Independent theater always depends on something: at the very least on economic or political context. But to save its credibility, critical theater, must be at the same time very self-critical,” Joanna noted. Such processes of raising critical theater aim to improve strong civic position and consciousness of society.

The project is named Desant.ua. As for its purposes, organizers mentioned, “We took the term Desant (Landing Operation in Ukrainian) from the vocabulary of war, vocabulary that we are increasingly using now on both sides of Schengen border. War terminology most precisely describes contemporary fears and patterns.” Producers also have intentions to bring the Desant to Ukraine.

Ukrainian art is truly going global.

Text: Veronika Skliarova

Photo: Theatre Institute / Maciej Czerski