Continued Development In Ukraine with Wild Theatre
Pyretic Productions has once again travelled to Kyiv to continue the development of our new script, Blood of Our Soil by Lianna Makuch. The first week of working with the Ukrainian actors and Дикий Театр (Wild Theatre) in Kyiv was wonderful and very productive.
The first day we met the actors, read the play, discussed the content of the story, and explored areas in the script that require further attention. The actors shared how the Ukrainian identity has changed following the Revolution of Dignity, and then described what life is like trying to live a normal life knowing a war is occurring in their country. They remarked how close the content feels to them and that they do not have to use their imagination to empathize with their characters. We examined the role of theatre and art in our countries, and how it is used to share and evoke our collective stories.
The second day, Playwright Lianna Makuch and Dramaturge Matthew MacKenzie got to work on a new draft of the play while, Director Patrick Lundeen spent the day working closely with the Ukrainian actors, discovering their characters and offering guidance on performing and speaking in English. Luckily two of the cast members are quite comfortable with the English language and could translate some of Patrick’s more complex thoughts and directions.
The third day saw a new draft of the play which was motivated by our own creative team’s goals as well as the feedback from the Ukrainian actors. Ukrainian ATO volunteer veteran Dmytro Lavrenchuk and photojournalist/American veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Jenn Blatty, joined us as we read the second act of the play aloud twice. We were grateful for their informed feedback and questions.
On the final day of our rehearsal week we once again divided forces. Matthew and Lianna worked in the morning to create stronger transitions and bridges between scenes, while Patrick played the part of Hania and Director in order to put the second act of the play on its feet. This exercise gave the actors the opportunity to feel the text in their bodies, and permission to embody their characters. Later that day Patrick played Hania again, allowing Lianna to simply watch and hear her play as the cast presented their freshly staged version of act 2. Following the run-through we heard some of that morning’s rewrites. On a dramaturgical level, we learned how the show flows, and the areas the script that still need further development were revealed.
It’s been wonderful to hear and feel the show with native speakers of the Ukrainian and Russian languages. It provides an interesting authenticity to the exchanges between the Ukrainian characters and the Canadian character of Hania. The cast’s perspectives as artists and Ukrainian citizens have deepened our feelings of the play’s subject matter, and have further shaped the direction of this new Canadian play.
The next week will be spent in Lviv writing, rewriting, reading, talking and rewriting. We will return to Kyiv to rehearse the final draft, which will be read to a closed group of veterans and people affected by the war. And then a public presentation will be shared on Wednesday, October 17 at the Les Kurbas Centre.
We look forward to the continuing this exciting, creative and cultural exchange!
Blood of Our Soil
by Lianna Makuch
UPCOMING: Toronto Premiere
MARCH 7-16, 2019
Tarragon Theatre’s Extraspace (30 Bridgman Ave)
After generations of conflict, a new crisis opens old wounds.
Inspired by personal accounts from war-torn Ukraine in 1944 and true stories from the country’s current conflict.
Blood of Our Soil tells the story of Hania, a Ukrainian Canadian woman, as she reflects on fond memories of summers spent with her beloved Baba. A chance discovery allows her to gain new insights about her Baba’s struggles during WWII and Hania is compelled to gain a deeper understanding of both her personal and cultural history. In failing health, Hania’s Baba (grandmother) urges Hania to travel to her Ukrainian homeland to seek out a missing piece of their family’s history. Hania is not prepared for what she discovers as she learns the truths of her Baba’s past and the harsh realities of today’s conflict.
How can our land not but be fertile when so much blood has seeped into it?
Blood of Our Soil depicts the struggles of the Ukrainian people against the atrocities of Stalin to the horrors of Hitler, while drawing disturbing parallels to the current Putin regime. It compares the historical and contemporary experiences of Ukrainians living under Russian oppression, with the hope of raising awareness in mainstream audiences of the war occurring in Eastern Ukraine today.
Inspired by the actual experiences of the playwright’s grandparents, who fled Ukraine during WWII, and the true accounts of people interviewed in the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine, during a recent trip to Ukraine. Blood of Our Soil reveals personal stories which span generations at the heart of political turmoil: from WWII to the hybrid conflict currently raging in Eastern Ukraine. Blood of Our Soil gives voice to the people whose lives have been affected by the frozen conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Europe’s current “forgotten war,” where current Russian aggression has killed more than 10,000 people, and displaced millions.
In March 2018, Pyretic Productions and St. John’s institute presented the first iteration of Blood of Our Soil in Edmonton. The performance was received with high acclaim from Edmonton’s Ukrainian community, arts community, and media. The production sold out and garnered four Sterling nominations including best new play and independent production.
The Edmonton premiere was generously supported by:
Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The Shevchenko Foundation, Ukrainian Pioneers Association of Alberta, Alberta Ukrainian Commemorative Society.
Accolades for Blood of Our Soil
ACUA-URDC Award 2018 (Alberta Council for Ukrainian Arts – Ukrainian Research and Development Centre)
Rena Hanchuk & Yaroslav Kitynskyy Artist Award 2018
Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards: Nominated in four categories
• Outstanding Independent Production
• Outstanding New Play
• Outstanding Multi-Media Design
• Outstanding Score of a Play or Musical
“[Blood of Our Soil] is the most powerful presentation that I have seen of the long history of travesties that the people of Ukraine have suffered from the time of Stalin through Hitler and now under Putin.”
– Linda Duncan, MP Edmonton-Strathcona, House of Commons March 20,2017
Blood of Our Soil will be presented in association with Punctuate! Theatre:
Thank you to our Funders!
Interested in becoming a sponsor? View our Sponsorship Page
or click here to download our Blood of Our Soil-Presentation Package (July 28).
Poster Design by Tynan Boyd