A theater troupe formed by Ukrainian actors in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of the country will present a new performance exploring motherland at ArtYard’s McDonnell Theater in November. Following the two performances of Mothermotherland, at 7:30 PM on Friday Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5, the six actors comprising Slovo. Theater Group will share their experiences in Ukraine and America.

Slovo. Theater Group was founded by Audrey Rose Degez, an American-French producer, director, and actress. Degez was set to be in residence at Residency Slovoin Kharkiv, a new artistic residency in the historic Slovo Building where many of the Ukrainian writers, poets, and artists known today as the Executed Renaissance lived before they were shot by Stalin’s Communist regime in the late 1930s. There she intended to write and workshop a play based on the short story I am (a Romantic) by Ukrainian author Mykola Khyvylovy, a Ukrainian writer and poet of the early Communist-era Ukrainian Renaissance known as a leader of his generation. After the invasion, her plans changed.

This summer, Degez mobilized an effort to bring five young artists from Kharkiv to her hometown of Pittsburgh, where they have been developing Mothermotherland, an original work inspired by I Am (a Romantic), their own personal stories, as well as the story of Mykola Khyvylovy. The performance draws inspiration from post-documentary theater, French stage actor and acting movement coach Jacques Leco, and the work of Berezil Theater, an avant-garde Soviet Ukrainian theater troupe founded by Les Krubas in the 1920s.

Degez is joined in the performance by Daria Holovchanska, Yuliia Linnik, Maksym Panchenko, Olesia Zakharova, and Veronika Shuster.

Mothermotherland Synopsis:

In Mykola Khyvylovy’s 1924 novella “I am (a Romantic),” the head of the local Cheka, a communist law enforcement agency, must decide whether or not to sentence his mother to death in the name of the ideals of the Commune. Khyvylovy lived, worked, and ultimately committed suicide at Slovo House, as a protest against the 1933 Soviet extermination of Ukrainian artists and intellectuals. [You can read an English translation of the short story I Am (a Romantic) by Ukranian author Mykola Khyvyovy here.]

The evenings include a performance and post-show artist discussion, offering the opportunity to discuss theater in translation, Ukrainian cultural heritage, and the current movement of Ukrainian artist-activists.

The performance is presented as a partnership by ArtYard and Colab Arts, the latter of which is Slovo. Theater Group’s fiscal sponsor.

Tickets for the performance are $20. Proceeds support Slovo. Theater Group. Additional donations can be made at the door or here to Slovo. Theater Group via Colab Arts. Please write “Ukraine” in the information box to ensure the donation is directed to Slovo Theater Group.

Slovo. Theater Group is made possible thanks to the generous support of James Miller, The Posner Foundation, Allan Holt, The Wilke Foundation, JP Morgan Charitable Giving Fund, Larry Lebowitz and Carrie Thompson of Denton’s, Cohen and Grigsby legal practice, Louis Dégez, and David and Dawne Hickton.