drama on the move. Germany.

Winners of the drama contest 

Support for translation, promotion and production of contemporary Ukrainian drama in Germany in 2020–2022 within the drama on the move program.

The expert commission selected six winning texts out of 69 applications received by the Ukrainian Institute. The works will be translated into German and later presented in German theaters. In 2020, the collection of winning texts will be published online, and printed in 2021.

The Head of Performing Arts at the Ukrainian Institute Anastasia Haishenets spoke about the main topics of the competing texts and the principle of winners’ selection.
“European public is quite demanding for a cultural product. The experts took into account the quality of the proposed works, as well as considered how a particular topic and form of presentation will be perceived by the German-speaking audience. Some works shed light on the local context, and some had no boundaries. Many texts raise the themes of the war in the Eastern Ukraine and labor abroad, the plots of some works are coined around a pandemic and forced isolation. The most popular genres were drama and tragicomedy. “

The winners of the competition are:

  • Post-documentary play “Horizon 200” by Olena Apchel, Oksana Danchuk
    The heroes are stuck in the mine after the explosion waiting for rescue. One might think that they are the humanity that has stopped considering its achievements. This play is not so much about miners as about each of us in extraordinary circumstances. About our ability to see and unwillingness to look around. How wide or narrow can our personal horizon of perception be when we choose to ask or not ask questions? The action takes place in a place without time, where the physical laws do not work. The circumstances in which the heroes find themselves are an occasion for us to stop for a moment, take a breath, and see the next horizon to continue the movement. The play is based on documentary material collected during expeditions to the coal mining regions.
  • Opera libretto “Penita La Tragedia” by Tetiana Kytsenko
    Four women, named after musical instruments, talk about a quiet stable life in the sanatorium. It provides everything you need, but life there seems to be a little boring. To have fun, the heroines talk about their lives. Everyone has their own story, but something in common brought them here – murder. The sanatorium turns out to be a colony, and the heroines are sentenced to life imprisonment. They are doomed to spend the rest of their lives in the “zone within the zone.” Where do these women find hope and are they entitled to it? The text is based on interviews with women sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • Search for a way of speaking in 5 acts “What is Jewish music” by Anastasiia Kosodii
    A play about Ukrainian anti-Semitism. The text is reflection based on documentary testimonies of Holocaust eye-witnesses from Ukraine, modern events in Babyn Yar, and klezmer – the music of Eastern European Jewry. The main purpose of the work is to find a new way to talk about the tragedy, already sufficiently engraved in the world culture, but still almost not described in Ukrainian social, artistic, and political works of art.
  • Social tragicomedy “A bomb” by Natalia Blok
    The girl Dasha who suffers from an anxiety disorder, suddenly realizes that there is a real temporal bomb in her stomach. The bomb appeared as Ukraine became independent. Dasha was then a child and called her tired parents for voting. There is a bomb made of nuclear energy, which Ukraine lost. It chose Dasha because she is a real Ukrainian. She has a great sense of guilt for everything, and this fuels the bomb of the past. Now Dasha works as an activist – defends the rights of transgender, gender, and other non-binary people. The state finds out about the bomb, it forces Dasha to detonate it. If Dasha blows it up, Ukraine’s past will change, there will be no war, no Maidans, and so on. But what will happen is unknown. What will Dasha choose – to die for the past of Ukraine or to live on with the bomb?
  • Tragicomedy “Pork” by Kateryna Penkova
    The main character Nadia works as a caretaker in Poland. Once she decides to run away from difficult working conditions and finds herself in the woods at night. In search of a shelter, Nadia finds a hostel located in a former burial ground next to an old Jewish cemetery. Here she meets Ukrainian workers: Tolik, Edik, Vaska, a driver from Luhansk Seriy, and a cleaner Ulyana with her husband Bohdan who supplies labor to Poland. Bohdan is a successful businessman who rules everyone: he abuses his wife and robs his compatriots. The rest seem like nice people in a difficult situation. Nadia likes this small community and wants to help, to ease their life. However, quite quickly these people involve Nadia in their strange earning schemes. Each of them has something to hide.
  • Tragicomedy “A ball flying to the East bank” by Olga Maсiupa
    The play begins with the European Football Championship. The border with Poland, which is crossed daily by a cigarette-laden bus Lviv-Lublin, becomes a border that lays the political context of future events – Euromaidan in 2013, the annexation of Crimea, and the start of the war in Donbas, as well as past unspoken traumas associated with World War II and postwar deportations. The bus “meets” different identities, conflicting memories, national and regional stereotypes, and violence, which does not disappear, but becomes a metaphor for constant struggle and resembles a football competition. What are the boundaries of the characters on the mental map of postcolonial Ukraine at the “end” of history, in which there seems to be no room for great narratives? The most important are the memory, experience, faith, and dreams of the passengers of the holey Icarus who care about their time and space.

The expert commission of the competition consisted of: Zhanna Bortnik, Yaroslava Kravchenko, Lyuba Ilnytska, Tetyana Plis, Valentyna Tuzhyna.
“I gave the highest score to the plays in which the dialogues are vivid and authentic to the characters. The plotsare not hackneyedl, where much more is said between the lines than written in the text. The language and way of thinking of the characters reproduce our realities. All plays hit the pressure points that we usually itend to ignore, because they are “uncomfortable” to speak about,”- shared her impressions of the competition Valentyna Tuzhyna, theater critic, manager of the theater and cultural- artistic projects.

The competition was held within the “ drama on the move” – a long-term programme to support translation, promotion, and production of the modern Ukrainian drama in Europe. The programme contributes to replenishEuropean theatres’ repertoire with productions of modern Ukrainian drama and increase Ukrainian presence in the European theatre community. The programme covers a period from 2020 to 2022 and will be implemented in three countries: Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.