at war

The Culture Fights Back project to share stories of artists and civil society representatives who have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In this section, we tell the stories of Ukrainian theater actors, ballet dancers, opera singers and choreographers who, often despite a complete lack of military experience, joined the ranks of the army at the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion.

Dmytro Kostiumynskyi

Dmytro Kostiumynskyi is a Ukrainian artist and theater director. He is also an actor and founder of the Dollmen theater company, which produces spectacles in both Ukraine and abroad. In February 2022, Dmytro decided to fight for his country, voluntarily joining the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 

From 2004, Dmytro worked with well-known Ukrainian theater company Dakh. His own company, Dollmen, produced the Ukrainian-Swiss play Hamlet. Babylon, as well as theater series such as Ukrainian Odyssey in 5 Parts and Crimea, 5 AM. In his interview with, Dmytro compared Ukraine’s history to a kind of Odyssey – returning home and regaining independence. The country and its people now go through the current war as a metaphorical Odyssey. 

Dmytro’s other significant project, Crimea, 5 AM, was produced in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute. It tells the stories of Crimean Tatars who were imprisoned by Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The theater performance premiered in Ukraine, Poland, Germany and the United Kingdom between 2021 and 2023.

During the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion, Dmytro attempted to enlist, but was rejected due to his complete lack of military training. He was accepted to the ranks of Ukrainian Army on his fourth attempt, spending four months on the front line. Joining the Army seemed the only way to protect his country and culture – equal concepts to the artist.  

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More about Dmytro Kostiumynskyi and his plays:
Crimea, 5 a.m. | Dollmen