Awakening - New horizons in the independent theatre scene in Ukraine

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Awakening New horizons in the

independent theatre scene in Ukraine

Content Foreword 5 I On the necessity of new dramatic languages and expressions 7

Ukrainian superheroes by Uwe Gössel 8

2016 – A year of independent theatre in Ukraine by Anastasia Gaishenets 11

II The rise of a new generation of artists 17

“End of Imitation 2.0” 18

ETC working group in Ukraine 21

III New Horizons – ETC scholarship programmes 2016 23

ETC European Theatre Academy at the Festival d’Avignon 24

ETC residency programme at the GOGOLFEST in Kiev 25

ETC residencies at the Georgian Showcase in Tbilisi 28

Residencies at ETC member theatres in Austria and Germany 30

Partners / Contact 34 About the European Theatre Convention 35

IMPRINT Published by: European Theatre Convention Edited by: Heidi Wiley, Teresa Pfaud Design and layout by: Viktor Nübel, Cover image: „rien ne va plus [all bets are off]“ directed by Yannik Böhmer, Peter Cant & Katharina Schenk © Roman Shalamov Unless otherwise stated, pictures were all taken of the performances presented by the ETC residency fellows at the Gogolfest in Kiev. © 2016. All rights reserved with ETC


Foreword Art, and in particular theatre as live and intermediate form of expression, is always entering a dialogue. Between the artist and the audience. Between different artists. Between members of the audience. And sometimes between the artist, the audience and beyond the save environment of a stage, a set surrounding, with the wider community and society. We believe that theatre is dialogue, initiating a dialogue of cultures. A guiding motto, which we have chosen to create European networking opportunities for Eastern European theatres. Three years have gone by since the Maidan revolution resulted in political upheavals in Ukraine. Three years ago we started to reach out to artists, theatre makers and theatres in Ukraine, imagining the art of theatre is an important part of society to offer orientation, distraction and moreover give place for debates, reflections, to ask questions. In 2014 a delegation of Ukrainian artists was invited to ETC’s international theatre conference with a focus on Ukraine. In talks the desire to organise an Ukrainian theatre showcase was expressed and with the support of ETC realised in 2015. At the same time, young theatre makers received scholarships for professional working experiences at various ETC theatres. Those experiences resulted in 2016 in ETC’s programme Theatre is Dialogue – Dialogue of Cultures. We believe building bridges between Eastern and Western European partners is more than ever before an essential peace-building process, a process that is carried by a young and talented generation of artists acting as cultural ambassadors. Be invited to discover latest works and voices of the Ukrainian theatre landscape that is just about to make its debut entry into European festivals and theatres, strengthening the role of theatre in Ukraine. Our work and joint journey couldn’t be possible without the committed collaboration of our partners in Ukraine and across Europe and without the ongoing support of the German Federal Foreign Office, thank you! Heidi Wiley General Secretary Image © Volodymyr Shuvayev

European Theatre Convention


Image Š Roman Shalamov

On the necessity of new dramatic languages and expressions


Ukrainian superheroes Observations from Ukraine’s real-life theatre scene By Uwe Gössel

European Theatre Convention (ETC). They are thus critical of the fossilised structures in their own country and driven to establish their own platforms and initiatives. Take author and director Pavlo Arie, who teamed up with other authors and collaborators in Lviv to launch the Drama.UA festival for new drama. For years they had witnessed how their

Auditions are a cruel game. In his brutally playful way, the Joker wields a gun at a humiliat-

theatres. In the early days of their festival, it was mostly just readings, but it grew quickly

ed actress tied up on the stage of the DAKH Theatre. Despite her situation, she tries to stay

and eventually started to attract international productions []. Driven

calm – she wants to get the part, after all. And then: Whoosh! Batman suddenly appears

by similar motives, playwright Natalya Vorozhbit and director Andrej Mai curated the Week

onstage, smashes a pie in the gruesome clown’s face and sets the beautiful actress free. A

of the Current Play festival in Kiev. During dramatic readings of plays about current issues,

round of applause. Laughter from the audience.

some of the actors were reading directly from laptops in their hands, and the texts continued to evolve afterwards as a lively discussion took place with other young actors in the audi-

But, in general, there isn’t much to laugh at around here: the stories are serious in this


unusual theatre production, entitled End of Imitation 2.0, which debuted in Kiev in December 2016. The loosely formed group of twelve theatre-makers working with director Pavel Yurov

This new wave of contemporary Ukrainian theatre is not only producing new plays but also

and dramaturge Dima Levitsky asked me to sit in on the last few rehearsals before the pre-

experimenting with new forms of representation. As part of their projects on living condi-

miere as a dramaturgical outside eye. This project is unusual because these young theatre-

tions in Eastern Ukraine, theatre-makers Natalya Vorozhbyt, Maxim Kurochkin and Georg

makers from Kiev are in the process of negotiating the experiences they have acquired

Genoux founded the Theatre of Displaced People in the Dovzhenko Film Studios, a former

recently in various theatres around Europe. And they are doing so by means of documentary

Soviet film production studio in Kiev. They used the studio’s abandoned spaces for installa-

theatre. Director Pavel Yurov worked in Heidelberg, translator and dramaturge Yuliia Gonchar

tion-based documentary performances and gave people who would otherwise have no voice

in Karlsruhe, and actor Andrii Palatnyi in Braunschweig. Now, back in Kiev, they want this

in the media the opportunity to have their voices heard.

theatre project to fuel a discourse that is becoming increasingly pressing in Kiev: How can we break the reform logjam that has crippled the development of theatre? Society has made

Despite the huge financial risks these innovative theatre-makers are taking, they are pushing

a lot of progress since the revolution on the Maidan, but the theatre structures have by and

their projects forward. Their initiatives are gaining momentum, often eclipsing the lack of

large remained the same. Since individual efforts have hardly changed anything, the artists

domestic support. Their energetic core is made up of the artists themselves. They usually

say, it is time to band together artistically and politically to fight for changes in the theatre.

receive funding from foreign cultural institutions and initiatives. At the moment, the young

In End of Imitation 2.0, they playfully present and call into question the insights gleaned from

Ukrainian theatre scene is operating in a cultural policy vacuum. The theatre-makers have

their artistic activities abroad: they demand badly needed spaces for independent projects,

set out on their own to learn about and experiment with new models of dramaturgy and

argue for transparent cultural funding, and insist on a new education system for theatre

production. What do they need now? Aside from financial means and performance spaces,

professionals, one that first and foremost respects the students as people and fosters in-

they need to critically examine their current production methods, including the way ideas and

dependent thinking. For that reason, the play’s premiere – and, in particular, the subsequent

innovative aesthetic formats are developed. They also need a new dramaturgical practice:

debate that took place – was addressing cultural policy, including the Ukrainian Minister of

one that reflects the theatrical means, guides the production, and seeks a dialogue with the

Culture himself, Yevhen Nyshchuk. The scene described earlier, the one with Batman, the


Joker and the tied-up actress, mirrors the current situation of theatre in Ukraine: the archaic structures have robbed young theatre-makers of their freedoms. But who, or what, will be

Kiev is not Gotham City. And, in Ukraine’s real-life theatre scene, the role of the cultural policy

able to save Ukraine’s real-life theatre scene, like Batman did? Where are the superheroes?

Batman still has yet to be cast.

Since 2013, a year before revolution broke out on the Maidan, I have worked regularly with young theatre-makers in workshops on contemporary dramaturgy. From the start, participants showed a strong interest in the production methods being used today in Western Europe. They had all heard about Rimini Protokoll, SIGNA or Susanne Kennedy. They were also curious about the programmes of theatres with permanent ensembles, about the inde-

Uwe Gössel (D) is a freelance dramaturge and theatre-maker, and the vice chairman of

pendent scene, and about the funding structures for theatres that produce their own plays.

the Dramaturgs’ Society. He was dramaturge at Maxim Gorki theatre in Berlin from 2002

And they were particularly interested in learning more about how working methods and

to 2004 and ran the Berliner Theatertreffen’s International Forum programme from 2006

dramatic languages correlate with a country’s cultural funding structures. Due to the lack of

to 2014. He served on the jury for the Kleist Award and for LaFT (regional association

funding in Ukraine, more and more theatre-makers are leaving to work abroad. They receive

for independent theatre) in Baden-Württemberg. He has been giving workshops regu-

support from theatres and festivals, from the Goethe-Institut, from the British Council or the

larly in Kiev and Lviv since 2013.



End of Imitation 2.0. Images © Alexander Dolovov

plays attracted attention in other countries yet were hardly ever staged in Ukraine’s state-run

2016 A year of independent theatre in Ukraine By Anastasiia Gaishenets

The year 2016 saw a huge boom in Ukraine’s independent and non-government theatre scene: theatre productions of all kinds – professional, amateur, commercial, experimental – multiplied. Finally, the theatre started looking for a new language and new spaces in which to express itself, and for a new audience. Many experts compare today’s theatre boom with the splash made by the experimental studio movement in 1990s, the best representatives of which were forced to emigrate. And we risk repeating history unless the state creates adequate conditions for non-government theatre for example by helping with programme implementation, providing grants, and creating independent project spaces. Some of the biggest names from 2016 were: Wild Theatre, Do or Die production, Misanthrope theatre, Studio SPLASH, PostPlayTheater, the Teatr-Pralnia group, The New Drama and New Opera associations, Theatre of Displaced People, TeatRok!, Theatre of Contemporary Dialogue... all of which were established in the last few years. Dramatic theatre The Wild Theatre, a project headed by producer and theatre critic Yaroslava Kravchenko, was the newsmaker in this category. Its key performances – Vij 2.0 and PRIESTS, COPS, BUCKS, CHICKS, both directed by Maxim Holenko – confirmed that Holenko now belongs to the group of established (not just aspiring) directors. Unfortunately, however, the number of such directors is not as high as we want. But the central project of Wild Theatre and Maxym Holenko was The Аphrodisiac, co-pro-

The piece was staged in an unorthodox venue for dramatic theatre: under the big top of the National Circus of Ukraine. The audacious experiment, which was repeatedly emphasised on the eve of the premiere, is, first of all, a combination of a large-scale theatrical format that Avtandil Diasamidze. Image © Volodymyr Shuvayev

ETC residency programme at Gogolfest, “Дім (House)” directed by

duced by Irma Vitovska, Vitalii Vantsa and Mykhailo Bondarenko.

provides a mass audience with provocative aesthetics. The combination of horror theatre, circus and drama with a dash of noir created a masterpiece – a coherent and an eerie artistic expression. The second performance that caught the public eye was Our Class, by Do or Die production. The authors of the project set a high standard of artistic reflection in no small part due to the play it chose. The performance is based on the piece Our Class, written by Polish playwright Tadeusz Słobodzianek in 2008. It was inspired by true events, one of them being the Jedwabne pogrom, which led to the bloody demise of more than three hundred Polish Jews in 1941. The debut project of director Serhiy Perekrest made headlines in most leading media outlets and was very well received by the audience.


Documentary theatre

The last year has seen the revitalisation of experimental theatre in Poltava, in no small part thanks to the playwright Iryna Harets, head of the Theatre of Contemporary Dialogue. The

Documentary theatre has grown from an experimental theatre genre for small audiences

main task of the company is to open up dialogues on important social issues. They wrote

into a popular play format that fills theatres. It takes on the burning issues of our times and

three plays, staged twenty performances and made five PSA videos, all based on documen-

attracts a younger audience to the theatre – one that was not interested in the theatre usual-

tary materials collected by the team members (journalistic research including interviews

ly played before. The Theatre of Displaced People, the project of director Georg Genoux and

with different affected groups, and recommendations and reflections of psychologists,

playwright Natalia Vorozhbyt, is one of the most remarkable examples of documentary thea-

sociologists, lawyers and human rights defenders). Their work focuses on successfully

tre in Ukraine. The main subject of the team’s work has become the war in eastern Ukraine

integrating migrants and refugees into local communities; preventing hate crimes and hate

as well as the fate of its people, who have fallen under the wheels of history. The activities of

speech fuelled by biases and stereotypes; promoting tolerance and the rights and duties of

the Theatre of Displaced People went far beyond the limits of the usual theatre: it became a

citizens; putting a stop to information manipulation and fostering critical thinking skills. The

real-life psychological care centre for people from eastern Ukraine and Crimea, a messenger

most interesting works of the company are Zlatomisto, a social documentary drama based

of peace in areas affected by the war zone. Without making loud, empty declarations, the

on interviews with Poltava citizens and displaced people, and The Theory of Grand Filter, a

team has done much more to establish a dialogue among the population of Donbas than all

play about the prevention of crimes motivated by prejudice.

the government programmes put together. The PostPlayTheatre is another bastion of critical documentary theatre in Kiev. The compaAside from the Theatre of Displaced People, there are several other very interesting projects

ny holds its performances in an old warehouse where the working conditions are extremely

that demonstrate the current trend of synthesising documentary content and drama. First of

uncomfortable, yet they still attract a sizeable audience. The PostPlayTheatre is proper un-

all, the documentary film сabaret Legends from Severo (director Andriy May, producer Peter

derground theatre. They support projects closely connected with social reality, which draws

Schwartz) is worth mentioning. This is the pilot project of the Lugansk Regional Music and

public attention to uncomfortable, painful topics. The most important plays of the PostPlay-

Drama Theater, which has now moved from Lugansk to Severodonetsk. The performance

Theatre are: The Grey Zone (director Halyna Dzykaieva, playwrights Den Humennyi and Yana

is based on the personal history of the actors – refugees from Lugansk and Crimea. Actors

Humenna), devoted to the problems of temporarily displaced people from eastern Ukraine

dressed in old, clumsy costumes used for children’s performances – a rabbit, a pig, a squir-

and Crimea; Militiaman (director Anton Romanov, playwrights Den Humennyi and Yana

rel, a cat. They are telling stories about their lives in the way that adult actors usually do in

Humenna), about a local rebel who fought for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic

children’s performances. The sincerity of the narrative makes us aware of the desperation of

and afterwards moved to Kiev; and More than a Woman (project curator Nino Khodorivska),

these people, who went from being ordinary citizens to freaks from one day to the next. The

the first performance devoted to the topic of gender, and being transgender, in Ukraine.

performance did an excellent job portraying the crux of our community’s internal conflict,

DIYA closure

showcasing all the intolerance and social stereotypes that dehumanise people in everyday interactions.

The biggest blow to independent theatre in Kiev last season was the closure of the Art and Science Center DIYA space. For two years, DIYA, a subdivision of the Minor Academy of Sci-

Another provocative project from the fall of 2016 was the Ukrainian-Polish performance

ences of Ukraine, had been renting one of the empty pavilions in the former Dovzhenko Film

My Grandad was digging. My Dad was digging. But I will not, directed by Rosa Sarkisian and

Studio. The centre had become a social hub and important platform for free projects and

Agnieszka Błońska and written by Dima Levitsky and Joanna Wichowska. The performance

non-government theatre. Now that space has ceased to exist. The Dakh contemporary art

was created as part of the educational and artistic Maps of Fear/Maps of Identity project

centre has opened its doors to theatre-makers and their independent projects, but its mod-

initiated by curator Joanna Wichowska. The aim was to “study the hidden fear that serves as

est size cannot fully accommodate the space necessary for rehearsals.

physiology and nihilism manifest the death of all human values. The third project worth noting is End of Imitation 2.0, directed by Pavel Yurov and written by Dima Levitsky. The performance is based on the personal experiences of ETC residents who, after spending a short time working at theatres in Germany, Austria and Georgia, returned to their homeland and realised that it would be impossible to put into practice what they learned abroad. Batman, Joker and Catwoman, filled with irony and sadness, joke about themselves and the world they are up against. The project blends documentary theatre with lyrical stand-up comedy and live animation mapping.

Image © Volodymyr Shuvayev

indecent) directing with documentary material, this performance takes us to a place where

Audience at the Gogolfest in Kiev.

the foundation of modern European identity narratives”. Combining eccentric (on the brink of Futuristic musical theatre in Odessa Last year was extremely productive for Oleksii Kolomiitsev, one of the most controversial directors in Ukraine. In the last few years he has acted as the artistic director in several regional theatres, but has had to leave every company because of conflicts and scandals. The reason for this may be a combination of his radical theatrical aesthetics and his temper. Kolomiitsev moved to Odessa a year and a half ago and founded his own futuristic musical theatre TeatRok!, which brought together like-minded people who were willing to work with the director despite potential difficulties. The groundbreaking premiere of the futuristic opera 2014, based on Velimir Khlebnikov’s poem “Night search” and in which one of the main roles was performed by Olexii Horbunov, put this original aesthetic on the theatrical map of



the country. Recently, one independent theatre that had performed at various venues all year

to download an app that was designed especially for the play and gave the audience the

finally settled in an abandoned clubhouse in Odessa.

opportunity to assign dancers an improvisational task during the performance.

Fall on Pluto

Finally, it is worth mentioning that theatre-related activities not only increased in the theatre itself: professional associations that deal with theatre management, are conducting analyti-

The projects of Lviv-based playwright and curator Sashko Brama are far more than just

cal research and educational projects, and are facilitating a dialogue between non-govern-

plays. While exploring a particular problem, he transforms the job of accumulating material

ment and state theatre-makers have also been more active. The most prominent among

into a humanitarian mission. During the last year, he focused on a nursing home іn Lviv. The

these associations has been the NGO Theatre Platform.

authors of the project were in close contact with the inhabitants of the nursing home for a whole year and the result was Fall on Pluto. Directed by André Erlen, the play is at the intersection of documentary and puppet theatre, dance and performative practices and spatial

Anastasiia Gaishenets (UA) studied theatre criticism and theatre science at the Ivan

audio design. As an extension of the artistic work, the social project Spring on Pluto was

Karpenko-Kary National University of Theatre, Cinema and TV. She is co-founder of the

formed. The project’s team launched Ukraine’s first art therapy space for group sessions

NGO Theatre Platform and was deputy editor of the magazine The Ukrainian Theatre

with older people and people with disabilities who live in the Lviv nursing home.

until 2014. She is currently working as a theatre columnist for the online magazines Сultprostir, Лівий берег (, Ukrayinska pravda and Korydor.

Experiments in opera The main newsmaker in this field was Nova Opera, a musical theatre company that experiments in the genre of new opera, created by composers Roman Hryhoriv and Illia Razumeiko and supported by producer Vlad Troitsky. The repertoire of the creative association already has three unique operas: the opera-requiem IYOV, the dream-opera The UnSimple and the opera-сircus Babylon. ...but for the wind... (kinetic performance) The independent sector was hard at work in the last year in the oldest, most respected theatre of its kind, Dakh Theatre, alongside director and producer Vlad Troitsky. Arguably his most interesting project in the past year was the kinetic performance ...but for the wind..., co-produced by the TAM Theatre of Animation (Alyona Ovramenko, Olga Pinaieva, Katerina Lukasheva). The props are fifty fans and kilometres of cellophane. The actors do drums. Contemporary dance The main initiator of contemporary dance development was the choreographer Anton Ovchinnikov, who organised the ZELYONKA Fest, a festival for international contemporary dance theatre. Unlike drama, contemporary dance still does not have a clear-cut role in the theatre structure. Most activities undertaken in this field have a project character. The most important events in contemporary dance in 2016 were: Between us, created by Spanish choreographer Chevi Muraday and performed by the Ukrainian Totem Dance Group; The Lost Zygote Syndrome by Christina Shishkareva; Game Zone, by Ukrainian choreographer Anton Safonov; and Dom RUNdom, by Kharkiv choreographer Julia Danylenko – the first interactive performance in contemporary dance in Ukraine using mobile technology. Spectators had


Image © Roman Shalamov

Image © Roman Shalamov

not say a word and hardly move. The music is born from the mix of stage noises and live

End of Imitation 2.0. Image © Alexander Dolovov

The rise of a new generation of artists


After the Maidan revolution, the European Theatre Convention (ETC), Europe’s network of public theatres, started in 2014 to reach out and connect with Ukrainian theatres and artists. Ukrainian theatre became a focus of ETC’s network activities. The following examples are results of first initiatives, of new artistic work and reflections of a new generation of artists.


knack for mimicking everything: starting from TV shows and

do this? What keeps us from feeling safe in public spaces

ending with nationwide reforms that remain on paper. We

– and do the latter actually belong to the entire community?

seem to have learned to create nice, make-believe images

What keeps us from asserting our dignity when unlawful

for export but we do our best to turn away from reality. And

actions are taken against us or nearby? What keeps us from

the reality is as follows: two years after the second Maidan,

being open-minded towards the new experience that differs

legal doctrine in Ukraine is still missing. This fosters corrup-

from traditional firm views and codes of conduct? What

tion at all levels and the emigration of the specialists who

keeps us from being “transparent” in our activities? What

do not see any prospects for themselves. Theatre is not an

keeps us from actually holding a dialogue and not (instead

exception here; it is rather a prominent illustration of this

of?) simulating it? Overall, what prevents us from accept-

tendency. The Ukrainian state theatre is deeply rooted in

ing ourselves at the personal and social level where we are,

the current system inherited from the Soviet Union, with its

without performing a shallow simulation and imitation of the

reigning principle of bureaucracy and officialdom, thin forms

nations that dominate our region economically, culturally, or

of propaganda arts, and a total reluctance to discuss urgent


issues. In other words, by its nature, the Ukrainian state

Theatre is a medium that transmits artistic information

theatre cannot change the society by staying in the realm of

directly from body to body, from one to one another. There-

lethargy and imitation. We want to articulate this problem

fore, it makes sense to want to share this experience and to

which, in our view, is the first step toward resolving it.”

extend and foster it by awaking and provoking the audience’s will for civilizational changes.”

Pavel Yurov: “[…] in this environment, open for initiatives and tolerant of “non-conformity”, a need of self-identification arises without which it is difficult to think of a possibility of End of Imitation 2.0. Image © Alexander Dolovov

the unbiased perception of oneself and people around. This is a purely individual experience that left strong impressions

Cast and production team

and a desire to take it again. This experience raised a ques-

Yuliia Fediv—Project manager

Convention’s project entitled “Theatre, Freedom, Dialogue:

tion: What are the sufficient societal conditions required for

Dima Levytskyi and Yuliia Gonchar—Playwright

European Networking with Theatres in Ukraine and Belarus”.

a similar practice in Ukraine? And also it raised a number of

Pavel Yurov—Director

About the play

The programme aimed at encouraging a cultural exchange

questions regarding the essence of post-Soviet Ukrainian

Anastasiia Gaishenets—Content editor, PR

End of Imitation 2.0 is based on the personal experiences

by giving young Ukrainian theatre-makers an opportunity to

society, its ethical norms and moral and legal standards.

Yaroslava Sydorenko and

of a group of people who dedicate their lives to theatre-

work and build up professional and personal connections

What prevents us from being equal, irrespective of money,

Alena Ovramenko—Stage designers

making in Ukraine. It is about the corruption of the theatre

with colleagues in German, Austrian and Georgian public

expensive cars, business hierarchies and professional

Yuliia Gonchar—Interpreter

industry and the difficulties that independent artists in

theatres. From this decisive experience of living and work-

prestige? Do we all not belong to the Ukrainian community?

Liera Huievska—Designer

Ukraine face – which often results in emigration. It is about

ing in these countries and its potential for the development

What hinders us from having the right and opportunity to

Oleksandr Martynenko—Actor

the existential experiences gathered while living and work-

of the Ukrainian theatre scene, a group of fellows started

fully own our bodies without facing other people’s judgments

Olga Popova—Actress

ing abroad, it is about the feeling of uselessness, foreign-

developing a play.

and throwing stones at anyone with regard to their conduct

Andrii Palatnyi—Actor

and look? What stops us from seeing our bodies as “private

Daria Palahniuk—Actress

ness and of being a representative of the “third world”. At the same time, the project and play deal with the experience of being involved in operational and social commu-

The creation of the play End of Imitation 2.0 has been sup-

property”, protecting and limiting our private space while

ported by the Goethe-Institut Ukraine.

respecting someone else’s space, even within a family?

nication processes with respect towards the human rights,

Project partners Goethe-Institute

Shall we continue self-torturing and endless sacrificial

equality and a forward-looking perspective on the world. It is about tolerance, joint responsibility for performance, and

suffering and complaints instead of encouraging ourselves

European Theatre Convention (ETC)

and others to seek ways out of crisis situations and uniting


our efforts to do so?

NGO Theaterplattform

horizontal relationships; it is about transparent institutional

Dima Levytskyi: “Ukraine has a knack for imitating pro-

structures with an open policy and a theatre that is integrat-

cesses and forms, which, in fact, are not characteristic of

ed into public life.

it. Ukraine has a knack for pretending to be a law-governed

and overcoming the crisis? What keeps us from rallying

What keeps us from concentrating on best practices

state in which politicians are constantly “fighting corruption”

around an idea and aim but not for money and contacts?

Creation context

and declaring their affection to Europe, but at the same time

What keeps us from enjoying success and acknowledging

In 2015, ten independent theatre-makers from Ukraine

not showing any willingness to get out of the deeply post-

achievements, both ours and someone else’s? What keeps

joined the artists residency programme of European Theatre

Soviet reality where lawlessness (still) reigns. Ukraine has a

us from tolerating “non-conformity” and what do we need to



Image © Alexander Dolovov

End of Imitation 2.0

ETC working group Ukrainian partners repeatedly stated that one of the fun-

The following main priorities were identified and further

damental needs nowadays is to connect Ukrainian theatre

refined in order to foster theatre reform processes in the

with the European theatre scene; and to do so, developing


transnational activities for theatre and performing artists in Ukraine as well as providing access to good structures for

1. To establish a common platform for cooperation between

creating and producing contemporary drama is a key here.

the Ukrainian state and independent theatres on the one

Theatre has a long tradition in Ukraine, though neither its

hand and the international community on the other.

theatrical landscape nor its enthusiastic and talented young

2. To develop legislative, economic, political and behavioural

generation of theatre-makers is much known in Central and

mechanisms in order to create the same conditions for non-

Western Europe.

state theatres and to share independent theatre productions between Ukrainian theatres and between Ukrainian and

As part of the project in 2016, ETC initiated a work group of

foreign theatres.

Ukrainian theatre professionals, most of them participants

3. To promote an evolutionary theatre movement through an

of the ETC 2015 scholarship programme, and representa-

ongoing upgrading of the theatre system.

tives of both ETC’s associated members DAKH Theatre and

4. To reform the theatre education and training system for

Kiev Academic Molodyi Theatre, with the attempt to involve

theatre professionals and actors with professional interac-

members of civil society and stakeholders in a democratic

tion with the theatre field through the establishment of new

consultation process and engage in a structured dialogue

theatre ensembles.

with policy-makers. The long-term objective of the group

5. To establish the independent theatre agency, the Theatre

is to discuss, explore and elaborate new possibilities of

Institute, that will promote the unity of the theatre system,

collaboration between the independent theatre scene and

and the launch of independent theatre platforms festivals

public theatre. What are potentials of an infrastructure

and showcases.

that promotes independent artists and companies offering

6. To develop marketing strategies to position Ukrainian

sources of funding, co-production and space.

theatres on the international scene.

In December 2016, an open panel discussion on the future development of Ukraine’s theatre scene was held in Kiev

All images © Alexander Dolovov

End of Imitation 2.0.

in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Ukraine. During the discussion, the work group presented their findings and

Working group members

recommendations in an action plan with concrete measures

Yuliia Fediv

to advance the work of the independent Ukrainian theatre

Andrii Palatnyi (Dakh Theater)

scene both in terms of subject matter and finances.

Andriy Bilous (Kiev Academic Molody Theatre) Natalia Syvanenko (Kiev Academic Molody Theatre)

During the discussion, the statement was that the opposi-

Diana Aishe

tion of public and private theatre and of repertoire and

Dima Levytskyi

project theatre is overrated since it is less of a fact than it

Pavel Yurov

is a common accepted idea. Both types of structures need

Olena Salata

to work hand in hand to indiscriminately grant access to the same premises for all theatre-makers as well as to establish a shared online platform assuring a transversal communication. Decoding the national cultural policy is therefore needed and so is a new legal framework for Ukraine’s theatre system as a whole.



New horizons

ETC scholarship programmes 2016

1. Ukrainian artists were invited to the ETC European Theatre Academy at the Festival d´Avignon,

Theatre is Dialogue – Dialogue of Cultures: European net-

France, 5–9 July 2016

working with Eastern European theatres is ETC’s project to enhance theatre as a public space promoting dialogue and

residency as part of GOGOLFEST in Kiev, Ukraine,

and supporting European networking.

5–19 September 2016

As part of the project in 2016, a series of multilateral fel-

Image © Roman Shalamov

2. European theatre-makers spent a two-week

reflection about art and society, shaping pluralistic opinions

3. Ukrainian theatre-makers were invited to the

lowship programmes enabled young Ukrainian, Georgian,

Georgian Showcase and Tbilisi International Festival of

German and other European theatre-makers to enter into

Theatre, Georgia, 4–8 October 2016

a professional dialogue and connect with international colleagues, to explore the public and socio-political role of

4. Ukrainian artists worked in ETC member theatres

theatre and current aesthetic developments, while opening

and visited the Fast Forward, the European festival for

new perspectives for all participants.

young stage directors at the Staatstheater Braunschweig, Germany, November 2016



The first scholarship programme kicked-off in July as part of the ETC European Theatre Academy during the Festival d’Avignon. Five Ukrainian theatre-makers joined the various workshops with European colleagues from both public theatre institutions and the independent performing arts sector to expand their know-how and skills to help them internationalize their work environment, professionalize their international competences, and position their work in the international performing arts scene in Europe and beyond.

In September, the ETC and its Ukrainian partners from the DAKH Theatre welcomed ten European theatre-makers to Kiev to participate in a two-week residency programme as part of the multidisciplinary GOGOLFEST. With over thirty Ukrainian artists, the residency participants performed seven newly developed small-scale productions in front of an international audience during the opening weekend of the festival. In conversation with our scholars…

In conversation with our scholars…

“Of course, the main goal for me was to develop fundamental skills in theatre management and create an image of the theatre for myself. I hoped to use this experience in the future by creating an interesting contemporary festival and other projects in my theatre. But something even more important happened. The entire city was a theatre itself and we were part of it – this greatly deepened my understanding of the mechanism of theatre. So many great people around you, with their own feelings and a mission dedicated to the theatre business. I think it was a significant dose of inspiration!”

“We decided to write a text together […]. While writing we exchanged a lot of views and information about life, society and art. It was a very valuable way of getting to know each other.”

Artistic creation workshops during Gogolfest residency. Image © Alexander Osetinsky.

P r o g r a m m e f e l lo w s

At ETC European Theatre Academy, Images © European Theatre Convention

Avtandil Diasamidze

Aleksandre Eloshvili

Yannik Böhmer

Katharina Schenk

Peter Cant

Director, dramaturg

Director, actor

Director, performer


Writer, narrator, director,

Tbilisi, Georgia

Shota / Tibilisi, Georgia

Hannover / Berlin, Germany

Lake Konstanz / Berlin,



London, UK

P r o g r a m m e f e l lo w s

Maria Borakovska

Nataliia Syvanenko

Andrii Palatnyi

Igor Matiiv

Pavel Yurov

Tamara Semzov

Vlad Udrescu

Wieke ten Cate

Britta Ender

Maximilian Hanisch

Director, networks

Theater manager, PR, head

Theatre curator, festival


Director, actor, curator


Actor, performer, dancer


Director, theatre manager,

Director, performer

manager, actress, educator

of literary department

manager, actor

Kiev, Ukraine

and dramaturg

Charkiw, Ukraine /

Bucharest, Romania


costume designer

Dresden, Germany

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, Ukraine

Graz, Austria

The Netherlands

Heidelberg, Germany




In conversation with our scholars…

“In the best-case scenario, such a project not only creates a performance. It potentially leads to different conversations about social, political or economic topics in order to compare the different daily realities of the participants. […] I got a closer look at what enormous social changes the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the common acceptance of capitalism as the only form of economy brought to this society.” In conversation with our scholars…

“[…] what is more urgent is the need for continued in-depth activity building upon the extraordinary relationships we established through art-making. I believe the experience was transformative for the Ukrainian participants as well as for us as the directors. We must continue this network and the work itself, which is the only way true exchange is possible.”

ETC residency programme at Gogolfest. From left to right: “Listening to lounge mucic sitting in front of a fire” directed by Wieke ten Cate. Image © Roman Shalamov “Дім (House)” directed by Avtandil Diasamidze. Image © Volodymyr Shuvayev

In conversation with our scholars…

“Destruction” directed by Maximilian Hanisch.

“It was a really unique experience of negotiation and exchange. I think it initiated important processes of real dialogue between us. […] We had to create something worthwhile under rather extreme conditions, with limited time and technical capabilities. But the main challenge for me was to find mutual language with the other artists, from different contexts, with different backgrounds. And this was very exciting. I was lucky to break down a few stereotypes about so-called European mentality and culture.”

Image © Roman Shalamov “Tell” directed by Tamara Semzov and Vlad Udrescu. Image © Roman Shalamov “Footfalls“ directed by Britta Ender. Image © Volodymyr Shuvayev “rien ne va plus [all bets are off]” directed by Peter Cant, Yannik Böhmer and Katharina Schenk. Image © Volodymyr Shuvayev “Blue Orange” directed by Alexander Eloshvili. Image© Volodymyr Shuvayev

In conversation with our scholars…

“I have very rarely enjoyed an experience like this in my ten years of professional work. Time was our main material. Extended time to work and grow. This is what is precious to artists.” 26



In conversation …

“The fact that I got this scholarship encouraged and inspired me a lot. This project is a great chance to broaden your professional horizons. During my stay at the festival I hoped to learn new acting techniques, see new theatrical forms and, of course, meet new people for future cooperation.”

A five-day residency programme took place in the framework of the Tbilisi International Festival of Theatre in Georgia from 4–8 October 2016. Four Ukrainian theatre-makers were invited to the Georgian Showcase to gain insights into the different festival direction areas and new perspectives in terms of theatre festival management and international touring.

In conversation with our scholars…

“During the Georgian Showcase, […] I had the opportunity to communicate with Georgian theatre-makers, to learn more about the development of theatre in their country, and about theatre collaborations with European institutions and organisations. I was absolutely impressed by the organisation of such a big festival and the richness of its programme. I would like to mention the workshop devoted to festival and theatreevents organisation: the information I got there was very useful. The Georgian Showcase gave me a lot of impressions and new professional connections.” In conversation…

“The experience (knowledge and communication) I had at the Georgian Showcase increased my social perspectives and, first of all, my social and professional activity not only in theatre-making but in teaching as well. […] it gave me inspiration and courage to continue my professional efforts and research.”

Professional exchange at the Georgian Showcase 2016 in Tbilisi. All images © Beka Javakhishvili

P r o g r a m m e f e l lo w s

Dmytro Veselskyi

Viktoria Filonchuk

Daria Ivanova

Oleksandr Oleshko

Theatre manager and

Theatre manager and


Project manager,



Kharkiv, Ukraine

dramaturg and actor

Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, Ukraine

Kharkiv, Ukraine



ETC Theaters

In conversation with our scholars…

“ETC has given me the opportunity to immerse myself in Georgian culture and to meet a wide range of inspirational professionals in the world of performing arts. I established new contacts and had the opportunity to introduce people to Ukraine and Ukraine to the outside world in a dramatic context. Also, I was able to explore a wider range of cultural issues, such as visiting galleries and specific exhibitions, visiting theatres and taking part in creative workshops.”

During November, five Ukrainian artists worked for four weeks at ETC member theatres in Austria, Georgia and Germany. The intensive work programme involved the selected artists in the daily creative and artistic processes leading up to a premiere, thus offering them the chance to discover the working structures of a theatre in a foreign country. A scholarship meeting at the Fast Forward festival at the Staatstheater Braunschweig (24–27 November) invited the group to deepen the exchange and to foster networking with artists from across Europe.

In conversation with our scholars…

“The experience at Schauspielhaus Graz as well as my presence at the Fast Forward festival have definitely influenced my personal and professional development in the most positive way. I have explored from the inside the well-organised and talented Austrian theatre, I have seen how a relatively small ensemble produces a large number of plays in a relatively short time, in what way everyone on the team has to work to produce great results, not to mention all the peculiarities of work starting from planning and ending with process of set construction before premieres. From talking with dramaturges I have also gained a better understanding of the issues that are presented in contemporary European theatre and of what artists strive to depict on stage. I have communicated and worked with Austrian actors understanding in what manner it is possible to work internationally. It was interesting for me to see what theatre-makers in Austria are searching for, what bothers them, what kind of changes they expect. I was also really happy to go to Braunschweig and witness productions of young directors from different countries, it did broaden my outlook and I saw a few plays that really inspired me to work with more passion and patience, no matter how challenging it may be.”

In conversation with our scholars…

“I hope that my country can be as hospitable as Austria was, and that festivals and showcases in Ukraine can make names for wonderful directors as Fast Forward in Braunschweig did this year. It is a great example to learn from.”

In conversation with our scholars…

P r o g r a m m e f e l lo w s

“[…]This month gave me time to think, to create, to concentrate on theatre with no other distractions around.

Scholarship meeting at the Fast Dariia Bila

Diana Aishe

Bohdana Kostenko

Anastazie Toros

Ivan Orlenko

Stage and costume

Director, Theatre manager

Festival program manager,

Student in European

Director, scriptwriter,



Kiev, Ukraine


Theatre Arts

performer, illustrator

Middle image © Volker Beinhorn,

Kiev, Ukraine

Prague, Czech Republic

Vinnitsa, Ukraine

Dnipro, Ukraine


Forward Festival at Staatstheater

all other © European Theatre Convention


Food for thought about European theatre networking by ETC scholars 2016… “Working in a networked way across national borders and

“Independent theatre is a good tool to make art fresh and

languages certainly encourages a pluralistic mode of think-

actual. And this project was an example of working in that


independent direction, when you don’t have any limits. […] And I’m sure that it will have an impact on me as an actress and

“Europe’s participation with countries like Ukraine is becom-

on the independent theatre scene where I work – small or

ing more urgent with the political changes ahead. I feel that

large – anyway, it’s really useful and important.”

the connections we have made and the work we did will be far

Looking forward to continuous collaborations…

reaching for my artistic growth and understanding as Europe

”I do not think that programme can solve the problems

becomes more fractured.”

of Ukrainian independent theatre-making, but it can give

“Next month, UNIMA-UKRAINE will host the International

“I know for sure that I will continue communicating or even

“It was a very interesting experience – the interaction between

Festival of Puppet Theatres and I, as deputy director, will use

collaborating with some people from this scholarship pro-

different cultures and views of the theatre. I really learned a

“The programme contributes to the unification of independ-

some good ideas that were born out of my participation at

gramme upon returning home.”

lot. And I think that such events, if possible, should be held

ent theatre-makers who can create a generic project. The

more often.”

programme also promotes the study and search for new op-

strong impulses for persons who participated in this pro“Sharing experiences with foreign artists is one of the most

gramme because it spreads knowledge, a clear understand-

important factors in this project.”

ing of contemporary theatre, and possibilities of collaboration with other teams.”

the Georgian showcase. Moreover, we will organise an art laboratory inspired by the format of the showcase.”

portunities for the creation of independent theatre projects by

“I made some really useful contacts for myself, especially inside of our performance group. I’m going to make a short

“It is extremely important to stay connected to the inter-

“I can definitely transfer my experience to the work of my

movie, and I’m thinking about involving some really interest-

national community, as this networking is one of the most

theatre (Golden Gate, Kiev) to create projects that are not yet

ing actors I met during the project.”

valuable things for building up the creative process in

“I had no expectations except for a kind of loosely organ-

directing. It has helped me to stay open to new ideas and

ised chaos and an undefined fear. But the chaos and the

always have freshness of mind.”

fear are the kind of working conditions especially suited to

known in Ukraine. It might catch the audience’s attention and bring economic benefits.”

“I worked with great actors who are interested in politics

developing international contacts.”

artistic purposes and a relief from the anaesthetic realities

and theatre that shows developments in society. So there “I hope that my suggestion of approaching the new leaders

is a base for another project. And I met the organisers of

“For those of us who got into the programme, it is a unique

of the Union of Theatre-makers in Ukraine will be realised

GOGOLFEST and the ETC who could help fund this next

and unforgettable opportunity to deepen our personal and

and that, together with other ETC alumni, we will be able to


professional qualities and development, and I am very thank-

“I think that the educational system in Ukraine (especially in

ful for this.”

the arts) is a leftover part of the Soviet one – it is too isolated

form a network for Ukrainian theatre-makers interested in building connections with European colleagues.”

of theatre production in Western Europe.“

and needs to be reformed. It would be useful to learn about

“We created a collective at GOGOLFEST and we intend to continue working as a collective with the particular process

“I wouldn’t deny the fact that it is truly challenging to create

the reformation processes of theatre education in those

that emerged in our days of working together.”

independent theatre projects in Ukraine. It is not easy to do

countries that became part of the European educational

scenographers with whom I had a great connection. I have

that without any support from the government, but it is a lot

system and recovered from their Soviet past. My greatest fear

the strongest hopes that we will cooperate on artistic pro-

easier when you know there are people who care and when

is complacency in professional activity. When I had a meeting

jects together in the future.”

these people have a chance to meet and communicate and

with students several days ago, I asked them what they knew

start helping each other with a kind word or practical assis-

about international theatre activities – there was silence. I

“One performance, based on documentary facts I saw in

tance. I think this is truly a great chance that ETC is giving

told them I did not know much more than they did, but they

Tbilisi, inspired me to create my first verbatim performance

to us young theatre-makers in Ukraine, namely, to collabo-

should use every opportunity to find out more about this field.

about people from Ukrainian occupied territories. The pro-

rate not only with European theatre but also within our small

New connections, discussions, workshops and other forms

and still disconnected community.”

of creative collaboration – its influence, discoveries and new

“I have met a number of wonderful actors and a few great

ETC residency fellows at the

gramme inspired me to take risks and create something new

Gogolfest in Kiev.

in my country.”

conclusions, would be the best outcome.”

Image © Alexander Osetinsky



About the European Theatre Convention

Partners Theatre is Dialogue – Dialogue of Cultures: European networking with Eastern European theatres was initiated by the European Theatre Convention (ETC) in collaboration with the Staatstheater Braunschweig, Germany.

With thanks for the support of the project by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Our ETC partners for the scholarships programs are Schauspiel Dortmund, Schauspiel Graz, Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theatre, Deutsches Theater Berlin, Theater und Orchester Heidelberg and DAKH Theater.

Founded in 1988, ETC promotes European theatre as a vital social platform for dialogue, democracy and interaction that responds to, reflects and engages with today’s diverse audiences and changing societies. ETC fosters a socially engaged, inclusive notion of theatre that brings Europe’s social, linguistic and cultural heritage to audiences and communities everywhere. As the largest network of public theatres in Europe, it has more than forty European theatre members from over twenty countries, reflecting the diversity of Europe’s vibrant cultural sector. ETC invests in initiatives that break down linguistic, national and geographic barriers, enabling artists to embark on international careers and participate in innovative projects that contribute to a cohesive European cultural sector. Through innovative programming and contemporary artistic forms that embrace urgent social issues, it connects theatres with stakeholders, cultural organisations and civil society.

Contact European Theatre Convention Head office: 8, rue Blanche, 75009 Paris Executive office: Schumannstr. 13a, 10117 Berlin EU office: c/o European House for Culture, Sainctelettesquare 17, 1000 Brussels Heidi Wiley, General Secretary Teresa Pfaud, Project Coordinator + 49 (0)30 28 441 207 WWW.ETC-CTE.ORG


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