5 Ukrainian plays were translated into English. Transmission.UA: drama on the move
The Ukrainian Institute’s programme Transmission.ua: Drama on the Move was developed to support translations, promotion and production of modern Ukrainian drama in Europe. In 2020-2022, the focus is on Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
The UK focus ‘Transmission.UK’ is implemented as part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture, with the support of the British Council, in cooperation with London’s Royal Court Theatre and the Center for Contemporary Theatre of Birkbeck, University in London. The long-term project’s result is the translation of 5 Ukrainian plays into English. These plays were the Drama competition’s winners selected by Ukrainian Institute in 2021.
Some of the best interpreters worked on translations of modern Ukrainian drama: Nina Murray, Daisy Gibbons, Rory Mullarkey, and Helena Kernan.
Nina Murray translated two plays: Five Songs of Polissya by Liudmyla Tymoshenko and the opera libretto Penita La Tragedia by Tetiana Kytsenko. The first drama consists of five short stories from 1940 to 2020 in northern Polissya. In the second drama, four women, named after musical instruments, tell us about life in the “sanatorium”. Each has her own story, but they all have something in common that brought them here – murder. Nina Murray’s translations include The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko, Ivan and Phoebe by Oksana Lutsyshina and Cassandra by Lesia Ukrainka (the premiere of Cassandra with Nina Murray’s translation took place this October in London).
Daisy Gibbons translated Pilates Time by Olga Maciupa, where the typical story of one family’s happy day turned into an absurd horror full of violence, retraumatization and pain. Daisy Gibbons translates news about Russia’s war in Ukraine and Volodymyr Zelensky’s speeches for the world’s leading media. She translated the novel Daughter by Tamara Duda, which became the BBC Book of the Year 2019.
The British playwright and interpreter Rory Mullarkey translated the family saga Mother of Gorky by Lena Liahushonkova. In the play, the story about Diyanka unfolds; she lives in a small town on the border with Russia. Author Lena Liahushonkova has recently won European New Talent Drama Award. About the translator of the drama: Rory Mullarkey’s plays and librettos have been performed at the Royal Court Theatre, the National Theater and the Barbican Center in London, and the Royal Exchange in Manchester.
Helena Kernan translated the comedy-drama Tinderland by Iryna Serebriakova. The story is about three friends looking for love in today’s digital world – they are redefining the roles of women in the modern world and technology’s role in relationships. Translator Helena Kernan graduated from Cambridge University; after, she worked in Kyiv with the Theatre of Displaced People and the Ukrainian Centre for Civil Liberties.
The translators’ selection process was carried out by Sam Pritchard, theatre director and head of international direction at the Royal Court Theatre and Molly Flynn, researcher of contemporary drama and lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London. Her current research is on Ukrainian theatre since the Revolution of Dignity, focusing on documentary forms and political performance practice.
In October 2022, the play Five Songs of Polissya by Liudmyla Tymoshenko became one of the finalists of the Aurora playwriting prize in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and her translation into Polish and English were included in the playwriting collection of the award.
Also, two currently translated plays — Pilates Time by Olga Maciupa and Mother of Gorky by Lena Liahushonkova — have been selected for the anthology of Ukrainian drama from 2013, which is planned to be published by the British publishing house Bloomsbury in the fall of 2023. The collection will also include translations of plays by Natalia Vorozhbyt, Maksym Kurochkin, Natalia Blok, Andriy Bondarenko, Anastasia Kosodiy and Kateryna Penkova.