In a transformed Sunday college house within the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn on Monday, eight youngsters, who lately arrived from Ukraine, gathered on a pair of risers and broke into track.
Hanna Oneshchak, 12, on the accordion, accompanied the opposite seven as they sang a Ukrainian people track, “Ta nema toho Mykyty,” a few man who decides to go away the nation to hunt higher work, however then seems to the mountains and, struck by their magnificence, modifications his thoughts.
“Regardless of the grief now we have,” they sang in Ukrainian, “I received’t go to the American land.”
The kids, college students on the College of Open-Minded Children Studio Theater in Lviv, have been rehearsing the track forward of two weekend performances of the play “Mama Po Skaipu” (“Mother on Skype”) on the Irondale Heart in Brooklyn. This would be the American premiere of the 80-minute present, being offered on Saturday and Sunday night time.
“We share our feelings with Individuals,” Anastasiia Mysiuha, 14, stated in English. And, she stated, she hopes that viewers members will “higher perceive what’s taking place in Ukraine.”
The present, which can be carried out in Ukrainian with English subtitles, is a collection of seven monologues about household separation advised from the angle of kids. Written by up to date writers from Lviv, the true tales have been impressed by the mass exodus from Ukraine within the Nineteen Nineties after the autumn of the Soviet Union. At the moment, many women and men went to different nations to work so they might present for his or her households again dwelling.
“Mother on Skype” was first staged in a warehouse-turned-bomb shelter in Lviv, in western Ukraine, in April, simply two months after the Russian invasion started. There it was directed by an arts trainer turned active-duty Ukrainian soldier, Oleg Oneshchak, who’s the daddy of two of the kids within the play: Hanna and Oleksii, 7. It was one of many few cultural occasions to happen in Ukraine at the moment.
“A lot of folks have been crying once we did it in Ukraine,” stated Khrystyna Hniedko, 14, one of many performers.
Now, the kids, ages 7 to 14, are performing for audiences in Brooklyn this weekend.
The concept for the go to happened when Jim Niesen, creative director of the Irondale Heart, the house of the nonprofit Irondale Ensemble Mission theater firm, noticed a photograph essay in The New York Occasions in late April in regards to the efficiency in Ukraine.
“I used to be so impressed by them,” Niesen stated in an interview on the theater this week. “There was this horrific battle happening, and right here they have been, doing a play.”
He and the theater’s govt director, Terry Greiss, tracked down Oneshchak on Fb Messenger and proposed an concept: Would he and the kids take into account bringing the present to Brooklyn?
Oneshchak, the kids and their households have been all enthusiastic in regards to the concept, and Greiss and the crew at Irondale started elevating cash to pay for journey and lodging prices — the full invoice for the monthlong keep for the eight youngsters and their three chaperones, which can even take them to Connecticut and Massachusetts, is round $40,000, he stated. (Oleg Oneshchak wasn’t capable of make the journey, however his spouse, Mariia Oneshchak, who can also be an actor and educator on the theater program, was.)
A majority of the group’s meals have been donated, and lots of of them are staying within the houses of Irondale board members and others. The workplaces of Senator Chuck Schumer and Consultant Hakeem Jeffries additionally helped the group ebook visa appointments, that are tough to safe as a result of so many individuals are attempting to go away Ukraine, forward of their arrival on July 22.
The generosity of different donors meant that the itinerary for the journey shortly ballooned to incorporate a weeklong performing arts summer time camp in Connecticut, the place the kids taught American campers three Ukrainian people songs; an outing to see “The Lion King” on Broadway; visits to the Guggenheim Museum and Coney Island; a Russ & Daughters bagel manufacturing facility tour; and a personal tour of the Statue of Liberty.
Once we spoke at Monday’s rehearsal, Valeriia Khozhempa, 12, stated she had been instantly struck by one factor: the absence of air-raid sirens.
“It’s a very stunning life,” she stated. “In Ukraine, there are such a lot of air alarms.”
There was additionally a humorous attribute, Khrystyna stated: American politeness. “Individuals at all times say ‘Sorry’ and ‘Excuse me,’” she stated. “It’s stunning as a result of everybody is de facto well mannered.”
The kids started engaged on the present in January earlier than being pressured to halt rehearsals when Russia invaded Ukraine. Regardless that the play was initially about tales from the Nineteen Nineties, households are being separated once more as a result of males are preventing within the battle. (Most Ukrainian males ages 18 to 60 — of conscription age — are usually not allowed to go away the nation.)
The theme of every of the present’s monologues is that folks don’t notice how detrimental their choices, even when financially prudent, might be to their youngsters’s happiness. “Cash can by no means compensate you for dropping your connection to the folks you like,” a personality says in one of many tales, titled “By the Eyes of Youngsters.”
All the youngsters are anxious about whether or not American viewers members will perceive their message, due to the language barrier and having to learn subtitles.
“I do know it will likely be onerous,” Anastasiia stated. “But when they may come, I hope they may attempt to perceive.”
All the proceeds from this weekend’s reveals — in addition to performances in Hartford, Conn., and Boston subsequent week — will go towards a fighter jet that the group hopes to assist buy for the Ukrainian navy. (A used jet prices roughly $1 million, Oleg Oneshchak stated.)
Hanna Oneshchak, who sings a patriotic Ukrainian track she wrote, stated she hoped the viewers would see not simply the play, however the underlying message in regards to the battle that the performers embody.
“The world sees this like a movie,” she stated. “I would like them to recollect us.”