Witnessing U: Testimonials from the Front Line

De Toneelmakerij/The Netherlands

Witnessing U: Testimonials from the Frontline

De Toneelmakerij (Amsterdam)

12 April 2022

De Toneelmakerij (Amsterdam) works with Ukrainian theatre makers since the Russian invasion to create a performance of War testimonies, to be presented at a benefit evening on the 12th April.

Vice President of ETC Paulien Geerlings tells us about the people behind the this project and how the connections made through ETC’s work with Ukrainian theatre makers since 2015 have helped make this possible;

“As vice-president of European Theatre Convention (ETC), the largest European Theatre network with 44 members from 25 countries, I came into contact with the Ukrainian theatre world. In 2015 ETC started the multi-year project Theatre is Dialogue- Dialogue of Cultures: European networking with theatres from Ukraine and Belarus. As part of this program, I visited Kyiv together with a European delegation, to see a showcase of Ukrainian performances from state theatres as well as independent theatre groups. I got to know several, very committed theatre-makers.

Bogdana Orleanova and Iana Gudzenko have been artists in residence in ETC member theatres. When Putin started this war, ETC reached out to our theatre colleagues in Ukraine. Youth theatre company De Toneelmakerij, where I am head dramaturg, offered a place to stay for Bogdana and Iana in Amsterdam. Then I also met Alesia Andrushevska who arrived together with Iana in the Netherlands.

To witness the Russian invasion in Ukraine day by day through the news channels, makes me feel extremely powerless. In a humble way I am happy that I can help on a personal as well as professional level. To create a performance together with Dutch and Ukrainian theatre-makers gives me hope in these inky black times.

I am impressed what the Ukrainian colleagues have managed to do under these circumstances. Within a week they have created a 30 page script of war testimonies, with strong dramaturgy and translated it into English. They collaborated with playwright Nina Zakhozhenko, who fled first to Moldavia and is now in Lviv with her two children. We hope she will manage to come to Amsterdam too.”

Photo from the performance (c) Sanne Peper

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