RavenExploring the unknowable boundaries
Performance inspired by the poetry of Oleh Lysheha
June 22-23, 2011 - Les Kurbas Theatre, Lviv
March 10, 2011 -- workshop production: Pasika Theatre Center, Kyiv
NEW YORK PRESS:
Raven incites this ensemble to glorious flight…Complimenting the vivid imagery of Lysheha’s words and the translation by creator / director Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps is the set, bare with the exception of a screen on wheels designed by Watoku Ueno/Aki-ology. Corrugated plastic on one side and sleek, shiny sheets of plastic on the other, it acts as a rich textural landing for the vibrant video projections of designer Mikhail Shraga and alternately splits the space, rotates to generate a spiraling sense of confusion. The path flown by Raven is, by turns, intoxicating in both its simplicity and complexity. I encourage you to follow where it leads. Amy Lee Pearsall nytheatre.com, April 9, 2011
This is the second performance based on the poetry of Oleh Lysheha that Yara has created. In 2003, Andrew Colteaux performed in Lysheha’s “Swan,” an equally mesmerizing performance. Before the play started, the audience was treated to the recording of American singers Aurelia Shrenker and Eva Salina Primack (who sing together as the duo Ash). They recorded music especially for the performance. Then, Julian Kytasty played a melodic solo on the bundura that was like an incantation to call the raven.
As all Yara performance pieces, this one is created by the artists who appear in it. It is built on quick rhythms, the fusion of images, and diversity of stage languages. There are moments of great emotional tension: the power of the sound as the characters run through the forest and the opposing silence as an empty boat drifts in the lake; the silence during “conversation” in movement with the apple and the expressive symphonic singing of the birds in the forest. My heart stopped when I heard the prayer “Lord have mercy” performed by Kat Yew in Ukrainian without an accent… At certain moments we hear a voice repeat certain phrases in Ukrainian; this is wonderfully performed by Olga Shuhan, a veteran of Yara shows. There are also traditional and sacred songs performed by Ash/AE. There are brilliant projections by Volodymyr Klyuzko (Kyiv) and Mykhail Shraga (US) that bring a lot of color to the performance: a branch with peaches, the light lavender of the iris, the lush tree branches in the forest, the tall yellow trunks of the pines and the beautiful stagnant lake… The projections of Ivan’s wife on video over the image of the forest and on Kat Yew’s dress are a great find (the light designer in Kyiv was Evhen Kopyov from the Kurbas Center). Finally, we must mention Alla Zagaykevych, a Kyiv composer, whose electronic music is used in Raven. Julian Kytasty plays the bandura as a prolog for the show setting the mood for the audience. This is a show you can and want to watch many times. Each time you discover something new, as I can testify.
The performance started with Julian Kytasty, the world-renowned master of the bandura, performing an improvised an etude that set the mood for the piece. While listening to this reverie, one could read the translation of “Raven” by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps, which appeared in the program notes. The story line of the poem seemed plain enough - poet Oleh Lysheha describes seemingly ordinary events that transpire during a day at the Lavra monastery.
The performance piece relies heavily on imagery to tell the story. The projections by Volodymyr Klyuzko and Mikhail Shraga create a natural atmosphere with floral and forest photography. In the center of the stage there is a translucent wall where the shadow of the raven first appears to actors Andrew Colteaux and Sean Eden, a man searching for meaning in nature and his friend Ivan... The wall is later illuminated with many different projections that alienate the actors in their search for the raven and for one another. The raven, played by Kat Yew, wears a white dress that also acts as a surface for the projections and makes the raven seem unattainable. The face of a woman played by Maren Bush also appears as a projection throughout the space. Choreography by Shigeko Suga turns the actors’ bodies into part of nature. There is an especially striking scene when the raven moves fluidly with Colteaux.
Poet Oleh Lysheha and director Virlana Tkacz are a duo of like-minded artists. Both are uniquely talented, with original world views and styles, both are representative of a modern world culture that extends beyond national borders. At the same time, both introduce Ukrainian culture to the world.
Reviews and photos of Yara's Raven -- Les Kurbas Theatre, Lviv
press release about Yara's Raven -- Kyiv & Lviv June 2011
poem "Raven" by Oleh Lysheha translated by Virlana Tkacz & Wanda Phipps
Yara Arts Group
306 East 11th St., #3B
New York, NY 10003 USA
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