In a transformed Sunday faculty 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 depart the nation to hunt higher work, however then seems to be to the mountains and, struck by their magnificence, adjustments his thoughts.
“Regardless of the grief we’ve got,” they sang in Ukrainian, “I received’t go to the American land.”
The youngsters, college students on the Faculty of Open-Minded Children Studio Theater in Lviv, had 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 introduced on Saturday and Sunday evening.
“We share our feelings with Individuals,” Anastasiia Mysiuha, 14, mentioned in English. And, she mentioned, she hopes that viewers members will “higher perceive what’s taking place in Ukraine.”
The present, which will probably be carried out in Ukrainian with English subtitles, is a collection of seven monologues about household separation instructed from the angle of kids. Written by up to date writers from Lviv, the true tales had 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 international locations 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 youngsters within the play: Hanna and Oleksii, 7. It was one of many few cultural occasions to happen in Ukraine at the moment.
“A number of folks had been crying after we did it in Ukraine,” mentioned Khrystyna Hniedko, 14, one of many performers.
Now, the youngsters, ages 7 to 14, are performing for audiences in Brooklyn this weekend.
The concept for the go to took place when Jim Niesen, inventive director of the Irondale Heart, the house of the nonprofit Irondale Ensemble Undertaking 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 mentioned in an interview on the theater this week. “There was this horrific struggle occurring, and right here they had been, doing a play.”
He and the theater’s government director, Terry Greiss, tracked down Oneshchak on Fb Messenger and proposed an concept: Would he and the youngsters think about bringing the present to Brooklyn?
Oneshchak, the youngsters and their households had 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 mentioned. (Oleg Oneshchak wasn’t capable of make the journey, however his spouse, Mariia Oneshchak, who can be an actor and educator on the theater program, was.)
A majority of the group’s meals have been donated, and plenty of of them are staying within the properties of Irondale board members and others. The places of work of Senator Chuck Schumer and Consultant Hakeem Jeffries additionally helped the group e book visa appointments, that are tough to safe as a result of so many individuals are attempting to depart 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 youngsters 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.
After we spoke at Monday’s rehearsal, Valeriia Khozhempa, 12, mentioned she had been instantly struck by one factor: the absence of air-raid sirens.
“It’s a extremely stunning life,” she mentioned. “In Ukraine, there are such a lot of air alarms.”
There was additionally a humorous attribute, Khrystyna mentioned: American politeness. “Folks all the time say ‘Sorry’ and ‘Excuse me,’” she mentioned. “It’s stunning as a result of everybody is basically well mannered.”
The youngsters started engaged on the present in January earlier than being compelled to halt rehearsals when Russia invaded Ukraine. Although the play was initially about tales from the Nineteen Nineties, households are being separated once more as a result of males are combating within the struggle. (Most Ukrainian males ages 18 to 60 — of conscription age — should not allowed to depart the nation.)
The theme of every of the present’s monologues is that oldsters don’t notice how detrimental their choices, even when financially prudent, could be to their youngsters’s happiness. “Cash can by no means compensate you for shedding your connection to the folks you like,” a personality says in one of many tales, titled “By the Eyes of Kids.”
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 is going to be arduous,” Anastasiia mentioned. “But when they’ll come, I hope they’ll attempt to perceive.”
All the proceeds from this weekend’s exhibits — 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 army. (A used jet prices roughly $1 million, Oleg Oneshchak mentioned.)
Hanna Oneshchak, who sings a patriotic Ukrainian track she wrote, mentioned she hoped the viewers would see not simply the play, however the underlying message in regards to the struggle that the performers embody.
“The world sees this like a movie,” she mentioned. “I would like them to recollect us.”