Kharkiv – Washington – New York – Pittsburgh: the Ukrainian-American theatre project presents a performance based on the work of Mykola Khvylovy in the USA

A group of Ukraine and USA artists united in the Slovo.Theater Group and created the play “Mothermotherland”. The play “Mothermotherland” is based on the short story “I am (a Romantic)”, written by the Ukrainian writer Mykola Khvylovy.

Mykola Khvylovy (1893–1933) was a prominent Ukrainian writer and publicist of the Ukrainian cultural renaissance of the 1920s.

This summer, the American artist Audrey Rose Dégez mobilized an effort to bring five young artists from Kharkiv to her hometown of Pittsburgh, where they have been developing Mothermotherland, an original work inspired by I Am (a Romantic), their own personal stories, as well as the story of Mykola Khyvylovy. The performance draws inspiration from post-documentary theater, French stage actor and acting movement coach Jacques Leco, and the work of Berezil Theater, an avant-garde Soviet Ukrainian theater troupe founded by Les Krubas in the 1920s.

In the fall of 2022, Audrey Rose Dégez was to create a performance in Kharkiv as part of the Slovo literary residency. On February 24, this plan collapsed due to a full-scale Russian invasion. Audrey decided to move the project to the USA. Degez is joined in the performance by Daria Holovchanska, Yuliia Linnik, Maksym Panchenko, Olesia Zakharova, and Veronika Shuster.

In Khyvylovy’s 1924 novella “I am (a Romantic),” the head of the local Cheka, a communist law enforcement agency, must decide whether or not to sentence his mother to death in the name of the ideals of the Commune. Pittsburgh-born and Paris-based playwright Audrey Rose Dégez applied to residency Slovo, an artistic residency in Kharkiv, where Khyvylovy lived, worked, and ultimately committed suicide, as a protest against Soviet extermination of Ukrainian artists and intellectuals in 1933. Her project proposal was to write and workshop an original work based on his work and around the topic of “Motherland.”

You can read an English translation of the short story I Am (a Romantic) by Ukranian author Mykola Khyvyovy here.

In the conditions of the war, the performance turned into a protest against the Russian attempt to destroy Ukrainian culture. The theater became a tool for cultural dialogue between Ukraine and America, as well as an additional opportunity to strengthen Ukraine’s voice abroad.

  • On December 15 and 16, the play will be shown at the Playhouse Highmark Theater, the central theater venue of Pittsburgh.
  • from January 11 to 15 Slovo.Theater group will go to New York, where they will play 5 performances in a row.

The project is implemented in cooperation with the Ukrainian Institute.

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