In a transformed Sunday college house within the Fort Greene community of Brooklyn on Monday, 8 youngsters, who lately arrived from Ukraine, accrued on a couple of risers and broke into track.
Hanna Oneshchak, 12, at the accordion, accompanied the opposite seven as they sang a Ukrainian folks track, “Ta nema toho Mykyty,” a few guy who comes to a decision to go away the rustic to hunt higher paintings, however then appears to the mountains and, struck through their good looks, adjustments his thoughts.
“Whatever the grief we have,” they sang in Ukrainian, “I won’t go to the American land.”
The youngsters, scholars on the School of Open-Minded Kids Studio Theater in Lviv, had been rehearsing the track forward of 2 weekend performances of the play “Mama Po Skaipu” (“Mom on Skype”) on the Irondale Center in Brooklyn. This would be the American premiere of the 80-minute display, being offered on Saturday and Sunday evening.
“We share our emotions with Americans,” Anastasiia Mysiuha, 14, mentioned in English. And, she mentioned, she hopes that target market individuals will “better understand what’s happening in Ukraine.”
The display, which can be carried out in Ukrainian with English subtitles, is a chain of 7 monologues about circle of relatives separation informed from the viewpoint of youngsters. Written through fresh writers from Lviv, the real tales had been impressed through the mass exodus from Ukraine within the Nineteen Nineties after the autumn of the Soviet Union. At that point, many women and men went to different international locations to paintings so they may supply for his or her households again house.
“Mom on Skype” was once first staged in a warehouse-turned-bomb safe haven in Lviv, in western Ukraine, in April, simply two months after the Russian invasion started. There it was once directed through an arts trainer became active-duty Ukrainian soldier, Oleg Oneshchak, who’s the daddy of 2 of the youngsters within the play: Hanna and Oleksii, 7. It was once probably the most few cultural occasions to happen in Ukraine at the moment.
“Lots of people were crying when we did it in Ukraine,” mentioned Khrystyna Hniedko, 14, probably the most performers.
Now, the youngsters, ages 7 to fourteen, are appearing for audiences in Brooklyn this weekend.
The thought for the talk over with happened when Jim Niesen, creative director of the Irondale Center, the house of the nonprofit Irondale Ensemble Project theater corporate, noticed a photograph essay in The New York Times in past due April in regards to the efficiency in Ukraine.
“I was so inspired by them,” Niesen mentioned in an interview on the theater this week. “There was this horrific war going on, and here they were, doing a play.”
He and the theater’s govt director, Terry Greiss, tracked down Oneshchak on Facebook Messenger and proposed an concept: Would he and the youngsters imagine bringing the display to Brooklyn?
Oneshchak, the youngsters and their households had been all captivated with the speculation, and Greiss and the crew at Irondale started elevating cash to pay for shuttle and lodging prices — the full invoice for the monthlong keep for the 8 youngsters and their 3 chaperones, which may also take them to Connecticut and Massachusetts, is round $40,000, he mentioned. (Oleg Oneshchak wasn’t in a position to make the commute, however his spouse, Mariia Oneshchak, who may be an actor and educator on the theater program, was once.)
A majority of the crowd’s foods were donated, and plenty of of them are staying within the properties of Irondale board individuals and others. The workplaces of Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries additionally helped the crowd e book visa appointments, that are tough to protected as a result of such a lot of persons are seeking to go away Ukraine, forward in their arrival on July 22.
The generosity of alternative donors supposed that the itinerary for the commute briefly ballooned to incorporate a weeklong appearing arts summer season camp in Connecticut, the place the youngsters taught American campers 3 Ukrainian folks songs; an time out to look “The Lion King” on Broadway; visits to the Guggenheim Museum and Coney Island; a Russ & Daughters bagel manufacturing unit excursion; and a non-public excursion of the Statue of Liberty.
When we spoke at Monday’s practice session, Valeriia Khozhempa, 12, she mentioned she have been right away struck through something: the absence of air-raid sirens.
“It’s a really beautiful life,” she mentioned. “In Ukraine, there are so many air alarms.”
There was once additionally a funny characteristic, Khrystyna mentioned: American politeness. “People always say ‘Sorry’ and ‘Excuse me,’” she mentioned. “It’s surprising because everyone is really polite.”
The youngsters started operating at the display in January sooner than being compelled to halt rehearsals when Russia invaded Ukraine. Even although the play was once firstly about tales from the Nineteen Nineties, households are being separated once more as a result of males are combating within the conflict. (Most Ukrainian males ages 18 to 60 — of conscription age — don’t seem to be allowed to go away the rustic.)
The theme of every of the display’s monologues is that folks don’t understand how negative their choices, even though financially prudent, can also be to their youngsters’s happiness. “Money can never compensate you for losing your connection to the people you love,” a personality says in probably the most tales, titled “Through the Eyes of Children.”
All of the youngsters are fearful about whether or not American target market individuals will perceive their message, as a result of the language barrier and having to learn subtitles.
“I know it will be hard,” Anastasiia mentioned. “But if they will come, I hope they will try to understand.”
All of the proceeds from this weekend’s presentations — in addition to performances in Hartford, Conn., and Boston subsequent week — will pass towards a fighter jet that the crowd hopes to assist acquire 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 was hoping the target market would see now not simply the play, however the underlying message in regards to the conflict that the performers embrace.
“The world sees this like a film,” she mentioned. “I want them to remember us.”