Taras Shevchenko, in the consciousness of Ukrainians from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present day, was and is the one who, for the all-Ukrainian language, modern Ukrainian literature and the consolidation of the national identity of Ukrainians, was and still is of exceptional and unique importance.
Difficult and painful history of Ukraine – the time of plundering, arson, destruction in the incredibly beautiful and moving street show.
Script and directed by Iaroslav Fedoryshyn, Set Alla Fedoryshyna (honoured artist of Ukraine), directing cooperation and lighting Krzysztof Dubiel, Sound Sergiy Kondratowych/ Mykola Kshanovskii.
Cast: Tetiana Tkachenko / Halyna Strychak, Nataliya Marchak, Nataliya Łukashonok, Petro Mykytiuk (honoured artist of Ukraine), Volodymir Hubanov (honoured artist of Ukraine) / Maria Kovalyk, Volodymyr Chukhonkin, Taras Yurychko/ Vira Ryfiak, Yurii Pylypchuk / Viktoria Zholinska, Oleksandr Chekmarov / Nataliya Terletska, Taras Kitsynyuk, Evgenij Pietrov, Yaroslav Kornichuk, Yurii Shorobura.
The history of Ukraine told through the prism of the fate of Taras Shevchenko, a great writer, poet, painter, prisoner of labour camps, spiritual leader of the Ukrainian nation. The Lviv artists will present the dramatic experiences and the situation of the Ukrainian people’s permanent struggle for state independence, which is so topical today in the era of dramatic war events in Ukraine. The colourful performance will make use of stilts, mobile machines, burning scenographic elements and pyrotechnic effects. A performance without words. Duration 60 minutes.
It is difficult to assess only the artistic value of the performance ‘Ukraine. Shevchenko’s Will” by Lviv’s Voskresinnia Theatre. It was a meeting of piercing, accumulated emotions ending with a moving song “Give a hand to Ukraine”, which united the audience. It is good that Voskresinnia also visited Gdańsk as part of its Polish tour. Katarzyna Wysocka, Piotr Wyszomirski, Gazeta Świętojańska
FETA 2023 – A powerful message to kick off the festival. Theatre from Ukraine touched the hearts of the audience.
The Voskresinnia Theatre from Lviv presented a performance inspired by the life story of Taras Shevchenko, the poet, writer and painter with the status of Ukraine’s national bard, at the opening of FETA. The director used in the performance means which are characteristic and very spectacular for open-air theatre – stilts, smoke and fire, he also brought to Poland a team of a dozen or so experienced actors, but the initial slow pace and recited poetry (in Polish) might have alienated viewers expecting a lighter theme and different aesthetics at an open-air event. However, the director managed to engage them with interesting staging ideas, but also with the truth emanating from the story, which was close not only to the tradition of Polish Romantic literature, but also at times to the screen adaptations of Jerzy Hoffman.
Stylistically, the director drew extensively on Ukrainian folklore, the costumes and the sound layer of the performance were stylised. Evoking memories of the poet’s childhood, Fedoryshyn found a pretext for creating an idyllic atmosphere of the Ukrainian countryside, close to nature, with traditional dances and customs. The author illustrated Shevchenko’s court story with Aram Khachaturianal’s Masquerade waltz, which is well known to Poles. There was also a scene in the performance referring to the contemporary situation of Ukraine – the actors unfurled their country’s (and Poland’s) flag and a message of exhortation and thanks for supporting their struggle for freedom came from the speakers. It was a very moving moment and a harbinger of the many emotions that await the audience over the next two days of the festival. Anna Umięcka, gdansk.pl; photo: Karolina Misztal.
Heart-Wrenching Testament Shevchenko.
The finale of the first day of the 39th International Street Theatre Festival in Jelenia Góra was the performance of the Voskresinnia Academic Theatre from Lviv with the play ‘Ukraine. Shevchenko’s Will”. Watching the performance “Ukraine. Shevchenko’s Testament” one could feel a kind of déjà vu. The Russian aggressor is trying to destroy the nation, to erase it from consciousness. The artists, not hiding their emotions, thanked the audience for the huge applause. Author: Przemek Kaczałko, jelonka.com
Artists took to the streets. For the 39th time.
The strongest accent of the first day of the festival was, of course, the performance of the Voskresinnia Academic Theatre from Ukraine, well known from previous performances at the Jelenia Góra festival, entitled ‘Ukraine. “Ukraine. Shevchenko’s Testament”. The group, severely reduced by the male part, using the tried and tested means of street art, i.e. light, sound, fire, stilts, based on the life and work of the Ukrainian national poet and advocate of Ukrainian independence, Taras Shevchenko, presented the dramatic fate of the nation which has been striving for independence for centuries. The performance was enthusiastically received, at the end the actors raised the Polish and Ukrainian flags together, the well-known song ‘Give a hand to Ukraine’ was sung and so the evening ended. Urszula Liksztet NJ24.pl
The theatres took to the streets of Jelenia Góra
‘Ukraine. Shevchenko’s Testament’ was very warmly received by the audience. It is a melancholic and reflective performance, and at the same time extremely beautiful and moving. Shevchenko’s life in the Voskresinnia theatre’s performance became a pretext for taking a broader look at the difficult and painful history of Ukraine, a country where time is defined by the seasons, the weeping of women whose men sing poignantly sad songs in prisons and the weeping of newborn children who never know their fathers. And a time of looting, arson and destruction by the Russian invaders. These dramatic experiences, and the situation of the Ukrainian people’s permanent plea for state independence, are so relevant now in the era of dramatic tensions in Ukraine. Merwan, portalik24.pl
Ulica 27. Theatres in Krakow.
Voskresinnia Theatre has a unique sense of street art. Their performances with very expressive art, unusually poetic, take on a lazy rhythm by a unique beauty scene with rich art. On the street they use everything that open space likes – stilts, fireworks, live fire, vehicles and platforms. The theatre is firmly rooted in Ukrainian culture and tradition draws from folk ornaments, symbols and paintings. Shevchenko is an icon and a national symbol for Ukrainians. “He lived 47 years. As a free man, he survived 9. He was born as a serf peasant. At the age of 24, he was bought from serfdom. Then he spent 10 years in exile. This was the life of Taras Shevchenko, the most eminent Ukrainian poet. Father of modern Ukrainian literature. ” Shevchenko – a man who symbolizes the fate of Ukrainians. His poem “Roars and groans wide Dniepr” was for them a hymn, when this state was forbidden and when the Russification of Ukraine stopped the development of the national language and when it disappeared from public life and the church. It was Shevchenko who established his native language in literary language and began to create poetry in it. Persecuted, under surveillance, with a ban on writing, embedded in the Novopietrovska fortress, he became a symbol of free thought and a national hero. Shevchenko’s life in the theatre performance by
Novopietrovska fortress, he became a symbol of free thought and a national hero. Shevchenko’s life in the theatre performance by Voskresinnia is a pretext for a broader look at the difficult and painful history of Ukraine – a country where time is set by the seasons, crying of women whose men sing intensely sad songs in prisons and crying newborn children who never know their fathers, and time plunder, arson, destruction from the Russian invaders.
The Voskresinnia Theatre is extremely connected to the natural order of the world. Melancholy and reflective. And at the same time extremely beautiful and moving. And just like the performance of the Russian The Theater Company Mr Pejo`s Wandering Dolls extremely current. Economical acting goes hand in hand with an unobtrusive message, which although appeals to a very specific biography and history is simultaneously universal, and the artistic form rich in Ukrainian motifs strongly accentuates cultural sources, which shows Ukraine as a country with a complex and deeply rooted tradition.
You can not look at this spectacle only as a series of attractive paintings. It causes much more complex emotions – emotion, understanding, willingness to support. That’s why it comes naturally to the mind to shake the hand of the actors after the performance and thank them.
40. ZLT: Spectacular “Testament Shevchenko”
A strong chord ended with the 40th Zamosc Theatre Summer. Lviv Theatre Voskresinnia staged a spectacular street show “Testament Shevchenko”, whose script was based on the work of the national bard Taras Shevchenko (12.07.).
Two-time laureate of Hetman Mace, for “Job” from 2004 and “To Meet Prospero” from 2009 – Voskresinnia Theatre from Lviv conquered the hearts of the Zamość audience for the fifth time with a characteristic stage formula combining traditional psychological acting with an innovative art form.
Every premiere for Iaroslav Fedoryshyn is looking for the most appropriate means of stage expression from scratch and building a formula of the Theatre, close to the heart, and expressing the anxiety of the times in which he had to live and create. For incredibly interesting stagings – I think that the audience will include the “Testament Shevchenko”, a spectacle which premiered in 2014 in Lviv, the 200th anniversary of the birth of a Ukrainian writer, poet, painter and national hero who first raised the speech of Ukrainian peasants to the rank of literary language and he created poetry in this language.
Iaroslav Fedoryshyn used all the stage means to refer to our senses in this absolutely extraordinary spectacle: sight, hearing and, above all, imagination. In my opinion, crowning this year’s jubilee edition of the Theatre Summer of the Year “Testament Shevchenko” was a spectacle extremely expressive and brilliant, for a long time in the memory. It was fabulously colourful, with a rich and varied set design, full of poetic stanzas, also magic, enchanting music and extremely expressive. With this vastness of stage means and dramaturgy, the spectacle caused a remarkable intensity of artistic experiences, in my opinion, deserving of “Super the Hetman Mace “.
“Testament Shevchenko” is a picture of the nineteenth-century Ukraine seen through the eyes of the bard. He was born as a son of a serfish peasant, orphaned by his parents, becoming a servant of a village owner who met his artistic talent. Then he accompanies you in an expedition to Vilnius and St. Petersburg, where he undertakes the science of drawing and learns the life of the upper classes. He gains freedom and, as a famous painter and poet, travels through Ukraine drawing drawings of historical mementos. Subsequently, he works in the Brotherhood of Cyril and Methodius, which sought to liberate the national Ukraine. For this activity he is arrested, he goes to the criminal corps, he is under close supervision and daily, devastating drills, successive exile and hard work at building the fortress. In the wild he does not entertain the debts, he is arrested again for inciting the people. After his release, he has no right to reside in Ukraine. He dies at the age of 47. A year before his death, he became a real member of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts.
The performance is a poetic journey on the Dnieper, to places close to the protagonist of the spectacle, to the world to which he devoted his poetic work, to the world for which he fought for independence, a world that no longer exists. Pictures from this fascinating journey trigger the imagination in the viewer, the more that the life stages of Shevchenko enriched adequate music for the stage and very symbolic stanzas from his “Testament”, which was an open call to national agreement, and then to the struggle to regain independence, but also sentences judgments that deprived the artist of the ability to write and paint. The performance begins with a kind of procession, a procession whose participants carry a specific frame, fence elements made of planks. Their heads are covered by mock-ups of houses symbolizing Ukrainian villages. This scene is accompanied by Ukrainian choral singing.
Along with the change of classical music, we can hear stanzas describing the landscape of Ukraine – steppes, fields of cereals, poplars. The viewer will observe Taras Shevchenko at the easel, painting the road to him. The next scene will bring us closer to having fun. It is symbolized by folk costumes, wedding cortices dressed in colorful ribbons and chants and dancing inhabitants of the village, to which a painter and poet descends from the platform. Orthodox church bells sound, and a moment later women sway babies in the basins, singing lullabies to them. All these scenes are recorded by the hero of art.
The change of the tone of music and on the stage, which became the Great Market, a rural car appears, and with it, with their everyday home work, the inhabitants of the village. Some make a canvas, others wear water. Knockers will announce the entry of characters on stilts, with withe in hand, symbolizing Orthodox church hierarchy. The next scene will show hard work in the field under the supervision of a guardian armed with a whip. The Ukrainian dumka will be accompanied by the arrival of itinerant blind people – bagpipes, bandits and lyricists, who sang songs about the past of Ukraine, and young Shevchenko gladly listened to. Again, we see working women, this time with reels. The figures with sticks in their hands will arrive on stilts in a march. Taras Shevchenko, who has already dropped the stored cards from the platform, joins the platform in a strange dance, entangles in woven threads coming out of reels, with which women do not part, or step, as with Shevchenko, it is not parting with Shevchenko, youthful rural shepherd. Male church voices accompany the scene symbolizing attachment to the role of the serf peasant.
The sounds of the famous Waltz No. 2 of Dmitri Shostakovich will invoke the stay of Taras Shevchenko in St. Petersburg. Candlesticks, beautiful costumes – long ladies ‘dresses, mens’ tailcoats and poet whirling in a white coat. The added value of these scenes is falling snow, fireballs and impressive fireworks. For this Russian officers on stilts and card table. In the background, we will hear the poems of Shevchenko: “There is no hell, no paradise, no God – only me.” There is also a cry: “The fame of Ukraine!” And the waltz continues. It is interrupted by the appearance of Russian soldiers, the arrest of the poet and the reading of an order prohibiting the artist from painting and writing. Poetic words of longing for the “beloved country, Ukraine” and the question “for which God punishes them and punish them hard” will fall. The next scene – weble and drill performance will depict the stay of Taras Shevchenko in the penal colony. Then, the exiles will show us with the elements of the railing, a synonym for the restriction of freedom. The singing and the sight of pregnant women will bring back memories of homes and families to the prisoners, and the longing and despair of the first.
A strong accent of the spectacle will be burning structures resembling churches, churches, manors and country huts. This view is observed by the artist from the height of the platform, which can symbolize – according to his wishes – the place of his burial – the hill, from where there is a view of the Ukrainian villages and fields, rocks and the Dnieper stream. He also sees desperate women who seek God’s help. The dramatic scene is reinforced by the male choral singing. The performance ends with the exposition of nine self-portraits of Taras Shevchenko and next to them – pregnant women gazing at the image of a national bard that is a kind of icon, a man who symbolizes the fate of Ukrainians. There are still verses of poems with a punch line: God’s will! An optimistic sign is the basket of a group of storks and music, which sounds to revolt against the oppressors and fight for the independence of the country. The momentum, the spectacular nature of the performance, the intricate acting of the actors and the extraordinary music brought the artists recognition of the Zamość audience.
Yaroslav Fedoryshyn on “Testament Shevchenko”
The Voskresinnia Theatre from Lviv is the undisputed leader in Ukrainian street theatre. During the 40th jubilee Zamosc Theatre Summer, it staged an elaborate performance of “Shevchenko’s Testament” in the Grand Market Square in Zamosc.
I speak to Yaroslav Fedoryshyn, director of the theatre and director of the performance, moments after it ended
.-You staged the performance based on the poetry of Taras Shevchenko at a special time for Ukraine. Did you want to comfort the hearts of Ukrainians by recalling the figure of the bard and national hero?
Yaroslav Fedoryshyn, general and artistic director: -Yes. We decided to make a performance that shows Ukraine as seen through his eyes. Ukraine, as you saw it – colourful, also sad and so ransacked and burned. These scenes also allude to the war that is going on in our country. Everything is burning, but life goes on. We did the play to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko’s birth.
In the play, you used Shevchenko’s ‘Testament’ and depicted the poet at different periods of his life. It could also be said that you show the tragic but also beautiful history of 19th century Ukraine using his life as an example.
Yaroslav Fedoryshyn: -Yes. But I also wanted to show that Shevchenko was not only a prisoner of the Tsarist regime, but also danced, sang, attended various balls in St Petersburg. But basically we showed his hard life – scenes from the casemates and his work as a serf peasant.
A performance delightful in its eloquence and colour. Pyrotechnic effects of the highest order. The set and props are well thought-out. Is this also to your credit?
Yaroslav Fedoryshyn: -also.
Those headdresses at the beginning of the play have a reference to country cottages?
Yaroslav Fedoryshyn: -I wanted our villages to be visible to the audience, the old, blurred ones that seem to “flow” at that time. We placed them on their heads, because every person has their home in their mind, in their thoughts, to have it and to have somewhere to return to.Then they appeared on the upper platform, so that all the time of art these villages of ours are in our consciousness, because now they are gone. And these planks symbolise the obstacles, the limitations, that keep coming up all the time in our history.
The first scenes show Shevchenko wandering around the boundless Ukraine. He takes notes, paints. He travelled a lot.
Yaroslav Fedoryshyn: – Yes, he was getting to know
Ukraine, and then the Tsarist regime forbade him to return there. In the finale of the play he leaves
nine of his self-portraits as a summary of different periods of his life.
The unusual music had a significant role in the performance. There was a wonderful performance of Chachaturian outstanding waltz.
Yaroslav Fedoryshin: -This is the music,
which was composed to the texts of Taras Shevchenko. Different styles and many
Ukrainian composers: Berezovsky, Lysenko, Verbytsky, Lutkevich.
You have probably been all over the world with your theatre.
We go around the world a lot with different performances. Now we’ve done a production of Chekhov’s The Seagull. We played it in Kalisz and Świdnica. We plan to present it in big Polish cities. We also want to show Shevchenko’s Testament in Warsaw.
How has the Ukrainian audience received this performance?
Yaroslav Fedoryshyn: -very well.
We have played a lot in Ukraine. First in Lviv, in front of the opera house, that’s where the
the premiere of the performance took place there. We play our plays there all the time because that’s where the most
space. We played in Vinnitsa, Kiev, Odessa. We want to show the play in
Ivano-Frankivsk, Uzhgorod, Cherkasy . It was supposed to be played in every
provinces, but the war started and we didn’t manage to realise it.
And what will it be like in Ukraine? What does the artist feel?
Yaroslav Fedoryshyn: – I think it will be difficult. There is no faith in me that it will be good. In the territories taken away from us there has never been a smell of Ukraine. There they don’t know the Ukrainian language, any traditions, they don’t fully know what Christmas is, what Easter is. I feel sorry for them, because there are a lot of good people there. I also feel sorry for the guys from Western Ukraine who died there. It’s bad politics. It’s bad that there is a war.
Interviewed by Teresa Madej