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Andrew Colteaux and Larysa Rusnak
all photos by K.Kava
from show at Kurbas Theatre in Lviv

Andrew Colteaux

Andrew Colteaux and Larysa Rusnak

Andrew Colteaux and Mykola Shkaraban catch the raven

Victoria Shupikova on the invisible path
in the wilderness

Mykola Shkaraban and Victoria Shupikova

Andrew Colteaux and Larysa Rusnak
past the trees of the wilderness



Exploring the unknowable boundaries

Performance inspired by the poetry of Oleh Lysheha
created by Virlana Tkacz
with Yara Arts Group and Ukrainian artists
with: Andrew Colteaux, Larysa Rusnak,
Victoria Shupikova and Mykola Shkaraban
music Alla Zagaykevych and Julian Kytasty
songs: Aurelia Shrenker & Eva Salina Primack (Ash)
lighting design by Evhen Kopyov
projections: Volodymyr Klyuzko & Mikhail Shraga

June 22-23, 2011 - Les Kurbas Theatre, Lviv

June 10-14, 2011 - Pasika Theatre Center, Kviv
April 8-24, 2011 - La MaMa E.T.C., New York


Poetry of Oleh Lysheha in a production by Virlana Tkacz
by Natalia Dudko
Ratusha (Lviv) June 30, 2011

The audience members who came to see Raven (based on a poem by Oleh Lysheha in a production by Virlana Tkacz, the director of the Yara experimental theatre from La MaMa New York), were invited to become the creators of the first act of the show: everyone was handed the poetic text by Oleh Lysheha and asked to read it. This text (which deserves, of course, more than a single reading during the show) is the base on which Virlana Tkacz projected her thoughts and associations. The show was performed twice at the Les Kurbas Theatre it was bilingual (English-Ukrainian) with American and Ukrainian actors taking part in it (Andrew Colteaux, Mykola Shkaraban, Larysa Rusnak, Victoria Shupikova).

Virlana Tkacz, an America theatre director with Ukrainian roots, is the founder and artistic director of Yara Arts Group. This is not the first time that she has created a theatre piece based on a poetic text, nor is it her first piece using the work of Oleh Lysheha. A philosophical work, full of images, Raven intertwines music (electronic music by Alla Zagaykevych and music on traditional instruments), folklore (prayers, American chants, Ukrainian folk songs and children's rhymes), movement, and incredibly beautiful projected images that include live video. By creating across the borders of languages and cultures, between the borders of the contemporary and the archaic, Virlana ultimately presents a diverse range of images. Oleh Lysheha's text is not strictly narrative; its most evident theme concerns the loss of a wife which in this production is conveyed by transforming images from the scene with Ivan and Marichka in Sergei Parajanov's film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.

Raven speaks to our desire to explore the unknown. Sharply delineated details from everyday life transform to reveal the true nature of reality. Birds, trees and fruit bear messages for the careful observer. The forest protects the secrets of the invisible path," the program notes. Oleh Lysheha speaks in very simple, but deep images: "when did they sow this grass," "I wonder if my millet will sprout," "the cherry tree bends low," "the winds lifts the scarf around her neck," "as if the sky had fallen," "a raven hunches over," "I could shut my eyes against the blinding depth of the bottomless sky above me," "as if we'd been there and not been there.." And the end of the poetic text of Raven is this: No, there was no fear../ No.. There was only pride,/ On my chest rested/ A wise bird without pity,/ He had flown all the way here,/ Past the trees of the Wilderness,/ From somewhere way beyond,/ Where Biblical beasts roam free, / Where they sleep under the stars, as they couple,/ And avoid wells/ That have been suddenly abandoned by humans.."

Lviv doesn't often see the type of theatrical experiment shown by Virlana Tkacz and her Yara Arts Group. They are definitely worth seeing don't miss the next time this theatre comes to town.

Original Ukrainian text of this review
Reviews and photos of Yara's Raven -- La MaMa E.T.C., New York
Reviews and photos of Yara's Raven -- Pasika Theatre Center, Kyiv
press release about Yara's Raven -- Kyiv & Lviv June 2011
poem "Raven" by Oleh Lysheha translated by Virlana Tkacz & Wanda Phipps

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