Eight Short Compositions on the Lives of Ukrainians for a Western Audience
Jana Svobodová/Anastasiia Kosodii and Col.
Eight Short Compositions on the Lives of Ukrainians for a Western Audience is a reflection on the effects on ordinary life of those in times of conflict. While looking at how the simplest things in all of our lives can be fragile we find expressions of love, joy and hope that offer the chance to remember what unites us all. Five performers each from a different European country, Ireland, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ukraine meet in a metaphorical space defined by text projection, live musical composition, singing and personal statement. Together they search for hope amongst the commonalities of tradition and routine of daily life.
In this production, audiences will hear a fifth recorded voice along with the four live voices of the performers. This is the voice of Maria Kosiychuk, who was performing in this production up until June. Maria has decided to remain in Ukraine working closely within the arts and supporting the Ukrainian soldiers. Because of this, she is needed there and cannot be with us. We have agreed with her to keep her as a part of this show in the best way that we can, by keeping her voice with us in the piece. We do not wish to replace her, but to allow her absence to speak on stage as her presence.
Review of French critique Stéphane Gilbart:
'Eight Short Compositions on the Lives of Ukrainians for a Western Audience” (seen at the Archa Theatre in Prague): still talking about Ukraine? How to talk about Ukraine? At the theatre, but not just any theatre! A theatre that avoids the trap of sentimentality as quickly forgotten as felt. Or the trap of a distancing that is as rational as well-meaning and uninvolved. Anastasiia Kosodii (the texts) and Jana Svobodova (the direction) have found the right balance. How? The eight texts are like "[terribly] poetic" facets of what this brutal immersion in war means (thus "At five o'clock in the morning": dawn, the hour of Russian missiles over the city; "Courage” and what it means; "The outside" or how one can have survived a war; "The skies" crossed by planes, which must be filmed to keep traces of what has been; etc.) . On the set, five young women of different nationalities, who not only will say, cut, repeat the texts, but will "illustrate" them in collective movements, in bodily gestures, in musical episodes. They manage the lights and sounds themselves. On the back wall, the texts parade in English and Czech surtitles. A theatrical ceremony which, in its diversity, challenges us, leads us to reflect, to feel differently what submerges us every day in the torrential river of the media.'(Stéphane Gilbart - Journal de bord - de scène - Les théâtres de Stéphane Gilbart, 15. 6. 2023)
Reflections of the performers
The experience of working with this international team at the Archa Theatre is very special to me. To be able to create a performance together about the war in Ukraine is urgent and important, while at the same time the way we work with the beautiful text is very freeing and hopeful. For me, coming from the Netherlands, I often take my freedom for granted. Working on this project has made me very aware that culture, home and safety aren't self-evident.
Rosa Berman, Arnhem, Nederlands
I do not know how to write about war - words have a short expiration date - I feel very much familiar with the lines of Anastasiia Kosodii here. None of us knew how to write about it. How would you translate all the terror and all your spectrum of feelings towards it into a few words, into a certain form?
Director of the show Jana Svobodova, offered us a safe space to experiment and search for the accurate words, movement, sound. I guess, now it is one of the righteousness methods to work with the difficult topic of war that is still ongoing.
Maria Kosiychuk, Lviv, Ukraine
Concept and Direction: Jana Svobodová
Text: Anastasiia Kosodii
Dramaturgy: Ondřej Hrab
Translation in Czech: Miroslav Tomek
Translation in English: Pavlo Hrytsak
Co-created by and Performing:
Rosa Berman, Amanda Doherty, Lotta Karlsson,
Mariia Kosiichuk, Sofía Vélez
Music: Lotta Karlsson, Rosa Berman
English Text Editing: Sofía Vélez
Sound Design: Jan Sedláček, Lotta Karlsson
Light Design: Pavel Kotlík
Technical Support: Martin Krupa
Assistant Director: Romana Sekáčová
The performance was created in cooperation with the Jam Factory Art Center in Lviv as part of the “Artists in War” international project.
The performance first premiered on March 17th 2023, at Archa Theatre in Prague.
Anastasiia is a playwright and director based in Kyiv (Ukraine). Anastasiia’s plays have been read and performed in theaters across Ukraine and Europe as a whole. Before February 2022 Anastasiia was often working with NGOs in Eastern Ukraine in the towns on the front line of the war between Ukraine and Russia - as a playwright and cultural manager.
After the start of the full-forced Russian invasion Anastasiia temporarily moved to Germany. She orginised series of Ukrainian Readings called Vom Krieg - Ukrainische Dramatiker*innen erzählen vom Leben während der Invasion durch Russland in number of theatres around the world Royal Court Theatre (London), Münchner Kammerspiele, Gorki Theater (Berlin), NTM Nationaltheater Mannheim, Schauspielhaus Wien, Staatstheater Hannover, ETA Hoffmann Theater (Bamberg).
In the fall of 2022, Anastasiia started her work as a Hausautorin at National Theater Mannheim.
Jana Svobodová is a theater director and founder of the International Summer School of Documentary Theatre. In her work, she combines authentic stories with video art, music, light design and modern technologies.
Her latest projects Those Who Speak for Themselves (2021), Perché non Io (2022) and Eight Short Compositions on the lives of Ukrainians for a Western Audience (2023) focus on the issue of personal freedom.
Her projects have been presented at festivals in the Czech Republic as well as in the USA, Japan, South Africa, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and other countries.
The production Ordinary People (2018), which she co-directed with Wen Hui, was presented in the main program of the Festival D‘Avignon 2019 and the Festival D‘Automne in Paris 2019.
Rosa Berman is a contemporary music theatre maker, performer and violinist from the Netherlands. With her violin and voice she creates philosophical and documentary performances. She specialises in making site-specific music theatre; performing in forests, on the streets, in people’s houses and on various festivals. Currently, she is following a traineeship at the Theaterschip in Deventer, the Netherlands making various performances in collaboration with Oostpool, Theater Gajes and Deventer op Stelten. Rosa is also part of the Dutch Music theatre Collective RAM and contemporary string quartet Four Frogs in the Woods.
Amanda Doherty is an award-winning actor and theatre maker who makes politically engaged work. Her original work elevates the narratives and experiences of oppressed communities, exploring themes of resilience and vulnerability and has toured across Europe and the USA. Trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, acting credits include: The Fall (BBC), Seanchaí (BBC NI), Scúp (BBC NI) for television; Bird About Town, Faust, Girl in the Machine for theatre, and forthcoming feature film Pulcinella.
Lotta Karlsson is a Swedish-Norwegian multi-artistic performer with educations in classical piano from Barratt Due musikkinstitutt (Oslo), Universität der Künste (Berlin) and NTNU institutt for musikk (Trondheim), as well as in Songwriting at the University of Agder (Kristiansand). She is a creator of innovative projects within the musical world as well as for the stage, with a particular fascination for meshing classical music with electronics. Her stage works in this field include both creating electronic opera as well as several youth and adult productions. She also releases music under her artist project named The Turning of the Tide, where she writes with a particular focus on societal and social issues.
Mariia Kosiichuk is currently the manager of the contemporary theatre projects at the Jam Factory Art Center in Lviv as well as a movement researcher and participant of the physical theatre studio in Lviv. Working also as an audio-description writer and having years of experience in teaching the Ukrainian language, Mariia is also a writer and researcher of Hutsul literature and is also involved in various art projects as well as inclusive projects in Ukraine.
Sofía Vélez is a UK based creative whose work focuses on radical existence and fictioning experiences of social inequity using layered performance styles and unconventional movement. Their practice explores how the body can shape-shift and transform, offering choppy non-narratives that reflect experiences of the outcasted including gender non-conformity, queer and class based struggles. Sofía is also currently a part of dance theatre company RedRoom in Bristol, whose works centre eerie explorations and abstract-expressionistic styles that invigorate imagination.
Jan Sedláček is a sound designer, audio engineer and musician. After completing BA (Hons) Music Technology at the University of Bedfordshire, and MA in Audio Production at the University of Westminster in London. In 2014, Jan has returned to Prague to pursue his career in audio engineering and sound design. Since then, Jan has been collaborating with numerous respectable Czech cultural institutions, including Archa Theatre, Czech National Theatre, Barrandov Film Studios, Forum Karlin, Jatka78, besides many independent theatres, as well as dance, audio-visual arts, and music groups. Since 2018, Jan is a co-owner of Studio Mr. Wombat, a recording studio located at the heart of Prague.
Pavel Kotlík is a light designer and light technician. Since 2011 he has collaborated with Archa Theatre on several projects directed by Jana Svobodová for instance, Lost and found. Pavel has also worked on shows for Min Tanaka and has won an award for his lighting design for VerTeDance in 2012. He has been dedicated to lighting since his youth, he passed smoothly from school to theatre, first as a theatre technician, therefore he refers to himself as a theatre maker rather than a light designer. In the professional community, he is known as a tireless creator of visual compositions on stage – only few can paint surfaces and accentuate details as he does.
Вісім коротких композицій про життя українців для західної аудиторії
Текст української молодої письменниці Анастасії Косодій є сильним емоційним свідченням, викладеним у пост-драматичну форму і, разом з тим, є глибоко закорінений в українську культурну традицію. Режисерка Яна Свободова обрала дуже обережний формат інсценування, де кожна історія може жити самостійно.
П’ять перформерів з різних країн зробили спробу перекласти цей текст мовою руху, музики і голосу. Таким чином, порожній простір наповнюється емоціями, що передаються глядачам. Після прем’єри на фестивалі AKCENT, аудиторія на декілька хвилин залишилась в тиші та медитації.
Текст: Анастасія Косодій
Сценічна концепція та режисура: Яна Свободова
Переклад чеською: Мирослав Томек
Переклад англійською: Павло Грицак
Музика: Лотта Карлсон
Звукове оформлення: Ян Седлачек
Дизайн світла: Павло Котлік
Асистування режисера, постановка: Романа Секачова
В головних ролях та співавторстві: Роза Берман, Аманда Догерті, Лотта Карлсон, Марія Косійчук та Софія Велес.
Прем'єра: 17 та 18 березня 2023 року, театр Archa, Прага
Постановка театру «Archa» створена у співпраці з Львівським мистецьким центром «Jam Factory» в рамках міжнародного проекту «Artists in War».