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In the new production of the Archa Theater, they reflect the stories of people from wartime Ukraine

Ukrainian artists found themselves in a very difficult situation due to Russian aggression. They have lost their audience at home and their voice cannot reach the rest of the world. The cultural center Jam Factory, based in Lviv, therefore approached several young writers to create texts that would be their own reflection of the current situation in Ukraine.

This resulted in the theatrical essay Eight Short Compositions from the Life of Ukrainians for a Western audience by the Ukrainian writer Anastasia Kosodii, which is partially based on the personal experiences of the author and her family. The premiere of the production is scheduled for March 17 and 18, 2023 at the Archa Theatre. The stage version of the text was created by theater director Jana Svobodová.

“The director of Jam Factory sent me the text by Anastasia Kosodia in English translation on 5/21/2022. I read it with bated breath. In short, masterfully composed sentences, the writer describes the daily routines of people caught in a war trap. They talk about beauty, about love, about morning hygiene, about the desire to meet and embrace. These are the themes of each of us. The specific situation then creates meaning. The war pushes these daily routines to absurd proportions,” says Jana Svobodová.

Director Jana Svobodová invited five performers, each from a different European country, to collaborate. The staging principle is based on “extreme listening”. Thanks to this approach, the director can let artists create together with untrained performers. Experienced musicians and performers include, for example, Maria Kosiychuk from Lviv, who speaks Ukrainian from the stage.

Part of the production, which stands out for its sophisticated lighting design by Pavel Kotlík, is a projection of the original text by Anastasia Kosodia in Czech and English. Performers perceive it as a springboard for movement, singing, musical composition or action with light sources. The artists themselves move the lights, which are placed on mobile stands, in a unique way, thus creating for themselves a boundary between light and shadow on stage. This “technical” collaboration of theirs brings a separate theme of human to human responsibility. A topic that affects us all.

“During the presentation of the “work in progress” production of Eight Short Compositions from the Life of Ukrainians for a Western audience at the Akcent Festival, the audience remained in the auditorium for long minutes in silence and meditation. It was very powerful,” recalls Archa Theater director Ondřej Hrab

In addition to the text set in powerful visuals, original music by Swedish singer, pianist and composer Lotta Karlsson sounds from the stage. She is also one of the performers and creates music herself on stage. In one of the scenes, another performer, Rosa Berman, enhances the effect of the violin composition. All five women come together in four-part singing.

Anastasiie Kosodii is a writer and theater director who was born in Zaporozhye and has lived in Kyiv for the past few years. Archa Theater presents her text directed by Jana Svobodová in the world premiere.

The production was created in cooperation with the Jam Factory center in Lviv as part of the international project Artists in War.