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Ukrainian Youngsters Deliver a Play From a Bomb Shelter to Brooklyn

In a transformed Sunday college area within the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn on Monday, eight kids, who lately arrived from Ukraine, gathered on a pair of risers and broke into tune.

Hanna Oneshchak, 12, on the accordion, accompanied the opposite seven as they sang a Ukrainian folks tune, “Ta nema toho Mykyty,” a few man who decides to go away the nation to hunt higher work, however then seems to the mountains and, struck by their magnificence, adjustments his thoughts.

“Regardless of the grief now we have,” they sang in Ukrainian, “I received’t go to the American land.”

The kids, college students on the Faculty of Open-Minded Youngsters Studio Theater in Lviv, have been rehearsing the tune forward of two weekend performances of the play “Mama Po Skaipu” (“Mother on Skype”) on the Irondale Heart in Brooklyn. This would be the American premiere of the 80-minute present, being offered on Saturday and Sunday night time.

“We share our feelings with People,” Anastasiia Mysiuha, 14, stated in English. And, she stated, she hopes that viewers members will “higher perceive what’s taking place in Ukraine.”

The present, which might be carried out in Ukrainian with English subtitles, is a collection of seven monologues about household separation instructed from the attitude of kids. Written by up to date writers from Lviv, the true tales have been impressed by the mass exodus from Ukraine within the Nineties after the autumn of the Soviet Union. At the moment, many women and men went to different international locations to work so they might present for his or her households again house.

“Mother on Skype” was first staged in a warehouse-turned-bomb shelter in Lviv, in western Ukraine, in April, simply two months after the Russian invasion started. There it was directed by an arts instructor turned active-duty Ukrainian soldier, Oleg Oneshchak, who’s the daddy of two of the youngsters within the play: Hanna and Oleksii, 7. It was one of many few cultural occasions to happen in Ukraine at the moment.

“Numerous folks have been crying once we did it in Ukraine,” stated Khrystyna Hniedko, 14, one of many performers.

Now, the youngsters, ages 7 to 14, are performing for audiences in Brooklyn this weekend.

The concept for the go to took place when Jim Niesen, inventive director of the Irondale Heart, the house of the nonprofit Irondale Ensemble Mission theater firm, noticed a photograph essay in The New York Instances in late April in regards to the efficiency in Ukraine.

“I used to be so impressed by them,” Niesen stated in an interview on the theater this week. “There was this horrific warfare occurring, and right here they have been, doing a play.”

He and the theater’s govt director, Terry Greiss, tracked down Oneshchak on Fb Messenger and proposed an thought: Would he and the youngsters take into account bringing the present to Brooklyn?

Oneshchak, the youngsters and their households have been all enthusiastic in regards to the thought, and Greiss and the workforce at Irondale started elevating cash to pay for journey and lodging prices — the whole invoice for the monthlong keep for the eight kids and their three chaperones, which will even take them to Connecticut and Massachusetts, is round $40,000, he stated. (Oleg Oneshchak wasn’t in a position to make the journey, however his spouse, Mariia Oneshchak, who can be an actor and educator on the theater program, was.)

A majority of the group’s meals have been donated, and lots of of them are staying within the houses of Irondale board members and others. The places of work of Senator Chuck Schumer and Consultant Hakeem Jeffries additionally helped the group ebook visa appointments, that are troublesome to safe as a result of so many individuals are attempting to go away Ukraine, forward of their arrival on July 22.

The generosity of different donors meant that the itinerary for the journey shortly ballooned to incorporate a weeklong performing arts summer time camp in Connecticut, the place the youngsters taught American campers three Ukrainian folks songs; an outing to see “The Lion King” on Broadway; visits to the Guggenheim Museum and Coney Island; a Russ & Daughters bagel manufacturing facility tour; and a personal tour of the Statue of Liberty.

Once we spoke at Monday’s rehearsal, Valeriia Khozhempa, 12, stated she had been instantly struck by one factor: the absence of air-raid sirens.

“It’s a extremely lovely life,” she stated. “In Ukraine, there are such a lot of air alarms.”

There was additionally a humorous attribute, Khrystyna stated: American politeness. “Individuals all the time say ‘Sorry’ and ‘Excuse me,’” she stated. “It’s stunning as a result of everybody is de facto well mannered.”

The kids started engaged on the present in January earlier than being pressured to halt rehearsals when Russia invaded Ukraine. Regardless that the play was initially about tales from the Nineties, households are being separated once more as a result of males are combating within the warfare. (Most Ukrainian males ages 18 to 60 — of conscription age — are usually not allowed to go away the nation.)

The theme of every of the present’s monologues is that folks don’t understand how detrimental their selections, even when financially prudent, might be to their kids’s happiness. “Cash can by no means compensate you for dropping your connection to the folks you like,” a personality says in one of many tales, titled “By the Eyes of Youngsters.”

All the kids are anxious about whether or not American viewers members will perceive their message, due to the language barrier and having to learn subtitles.

“I do know will probably be onerous,” Anastasiia stated. “But when they are going to come, I hope they are going to attempt to perceive.”

All the proceeds from this weekend’s reveals — in addition to performances in Hartford, Conn., and Boston subsequent week — will go towards a fighter jet that the group hopes to assist buy for the Ukrainian navy. (A used jet prices roughly $1 million, Oleg Oneshchak stated.)

Hanna Oneshchak, who sings a patriotic Ukrainian tune she wrote, stated she hoped the viewers would see not simply the play, however the underlying message in regards to the warfare that the performers embody.

“The world sees this like a movie,” she stated. “I would like them to recollect us.”



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