Voices of Resilience: Five Ukrainian One-Acts in Washington (USA)

6 May 2023

Voices Festival Productions and the Arts Club of Washington have come together again, this time after a year of their successful partnership, to present an impactful event titled "UKRAINIANS UNDER SIEGE, YEAR II: Five New Ukrainian One-Acts From the War." These one-acts have been written over the past year since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The event will feature a talented ensemble of five actors and will be helmed by four directors. It will take place at the Arts Club of Washington, located at 2017 I [Eye] Street, NW, Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 24, starting at 7 pm.

This event is part of a global initiative to utilize theatre as a means of bearing witness to the atrocities committed during Putin's war on Ukraine. This year's selection showcases the works of esteemed Ukrainian playwrights: Andrii Bondarenko, Iryna Harets, Olena Hapieieva, Lena Lagushonkova, and Kateryna Penkova.

The ensemble of talented actors from the local DC community includes Lisa Hodsoll, Rachel Manteuffel, Fatima Quander, Theodore Sapp, and Sam Sherman. The plays will be skilfully directed by A Lorraine Robinson, VFP's Artistic Producing Partner, in collaboration with Vanessa Gilbert. Joining them as guest artists from New York are Zoya Kachadurian and Sam Sherman. The plays have been expertly translated from Ukrainian by Natalia Bratuś and John Freedman and have been commissioned through the Centre for International Theatre Development (CITD), thanks to the tireless efforts of CITD Founding Director, Philip Arnoult.

"In the Bowels of the Earth"

Written by Olena Hapieieva | Directed by A. Lorraine Robinson

Amidst the confines of an underground bomb shelter, Lena finds herself among both family and strangers, seeking solace in the hope that the earth will shield them from the ravages of war. In this crowded space, a symphony of needs and the innocent inquiries of children pierce through, questioning the brutality that surrounds them.

"Planting an Apple Tree"

Written by Iryna Harets | Directed by Vanessa Gilbert

As the specter of war creeps closer to her rural home, a woman shares her tale, balancing between the serenity of tending to her trees and the underlying sense of dread. With horrors still distant in other nearby cities, she clings to the act of planting as a means to blend safety and anticipation.

"Survivor's Syndrome"

Written by Andrii Bondarenko | Directed by Zoya Kachadurian

A man readies himself for a date that will never come to pass, grappling with fears, guilt, and remorse that intensify as the war disrupts everything around him. Unfolding in reverse chronological order, the play traverses from apocalyptic despair to flickers of hope, combining lyrical storytelling with a clinical precision that captures the magnitude of loss.

"A Topol-M Rocket Fired at a Cat Named Brooch"

Written by Lena Lena Lagushonkova | Directed by Vanessa Gilbert

A Russian Topol-M rocket hurtles towards the narrator, leaving her in a state of suspense, contemplating the concerns of her daily life, including her empathy for innocent felines. Boundaries of sympathy are explored as she ponders, "I do not want Russian cats to suffer. But that's the limit of my sympathy."

"TDP (Temporarily Displaced Persons)"

Written by Kateryna Penkova | Directed by Sam Sherman

In a poignant finale, a woman assists in finding shelter for refugees, observing their idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. Each profile highlights politeness and understated tragedy, until the moment when the narrator herself seeks help and finds no one left to turn to.