Ukranian Meetings

A full hall, enthusiastic opinions, standing ovation, numerous interviews and articles, official meetings (including one with the Consul General of Poland in Kharkiv) live broadcast of the performance “Emotion in Sound" on national television Triolan.Live - all of this happened to Theatre Brama Goleniów during a weeklong tour of the Ukraine, which was a spectacular artistic success supported by a ministerial program for the promotion of Polish culture abroad.


The group from Goleniów was invited by Theatre Na Żukach of Kharkiv. The program of trip was very intense – in five days five performances were shown (“Emotion in Sound” three times and “We” twice) in three different places: DAX Theatre in Kiev (one of the most prestigious in the Ukrainian alternative scene),Theatre Na Żukach and on stage at the Kharkiv Law Academy. It is from this last place that the performance was broadcast live on television – the performance was broadcast live during the time of premium content and viewership, it could also be also seen on a giant telebeam placed in the largest square in the heart of the city, the square of Kharkiv.


There was, however, no TV coverage, during one of the most important artistic moments of the journey. This theatre, whose work is based on a strong emotional transmission, that invites viewers to intensive meetings based on fun and emotion that does not sacrifice irony, detachment and sense of humor and is able to speak about important things, went deep in the heart of Ukrainian viewers - after each performance the actors repeatedly received applause, it was difficult for them to leave the stage without hearing the spontaneous admiration and gratitude.


When after the last performance, the group was packing themselves into the bus, a dozen people gathered on the sidewalk and joined in a common song - it was, they said their response to that which they received during the performance, something very important and valuable: genuine emotion. It was especially significant, that this evening had for the Polish actors, a particular dimension. The rebellious, ironic, provocative commentaries on reality of the performance "We" were played on Good Friday, after a very moving trip to the cemetery in Piatichatkach, where the Brama ensemble, along with the accompanying Consul, laid flowers and lit candles on the graves of the victims of totalitarianism (mainly Polish officers from the camp in Starobielsk murdered in the NKVD headquarters in Kharkov in 1940). This gave additional context to the performance, more noticible than before in their presentation of opposition to the "system" and "cry for value", highlighting this poignant, though based on a paradox, and "lined Gombrowicz" generational patriotism.


An even more intense experience felt by both sides – the leaders and participants - were workshops, or rather demonstrations of working methods which were organized for students of National University of Theatre, Film and Television in Kiev and the National University of Arts in Kharkov. Both cities are the most powerful academic centers of Ukraine - in the university has such art departments as ballet, doll making, acting, directing, contemporary dance, etc. It was hardly a strange surprise for the actors from Goleniów, who have already worked with dozens of groups , to find a room full of young people open to new experiences.


The task was quite daring – and to the credit of Theatre Brama, that even under these conditions: crowded halls in which the participants sat apart from the observers (including the professors of both universities), they triggered fun and spontaneity- spontaneity of reaction and then built an atmosphere of intimacy, which gave the young Ukrainian artists a sense of security and launched intense creativity. After class, they emphasized that it was for them, something much more than learning new methods and techniques - that they had experienced a genuine sense of community, togetherness, and that touched something important in itself, not only in an artistic sense, but in a human sense as well. The leaders of the workshops felt similarily as well - both in Kharkov and Kiev, both parties have felt the important strengths of the meeting.


I think the word "meeting" is the key to Brama’s "trip to the East". The warm welcome of Theatre Na Zukach actors (who thanked the Polish actors by presenting their own performance to them on the final day of the trip), spontaneously responsive audience, young artists who - despite their differences in the proposed language of theater dared to experience together and finally the media -in a very open "TV experiment" - all this built a kind of intercultural dialogue, but also an interpersonal dialogue. This was one of those important discussions, which really make theatre worth doing.


Presentations of Theatre Brama in the Ukraine took place within the framework of the Ministry of Culture - Promotion of Polish culture abroad and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, with support from the Polish Institute in Kiev.


Marta Poniatowska