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Marina Celander
and the audience as refugees
photos by Volodymyr Klyuzko

Marina Celander as the Refugee

Sean Eden as the Builder

Andrew Colteaux as the Warrior
with the Refugee's icon

News from Donetsk
with Melinda Custer, Caitlin Harding and Maria Pleskevich as refugees

Chris Ignacio as tatoo artist
with Maria Pleskevich

What did you dream about?
with Marian Celnader, Caitlin Harding, Maria Pleskevch & Chris Ignacio

Andrew Colteaux tries to force
Maria Pleskevich to repeat after him
as Medlinda Custer, Caitlin Harding watch

Andrew Colteaux as the warrior with Caitlin Harding & Chris Ignacio

Andrew Colteaux as the warrrior

Andrew Colteaux as the warrior

Andrew Coleatux as the warrior, awaits Judgement Day
with Chris Ignacio

Marina Celander (refugee) remembers a church in Donetsk

Julian Kytasty plays the bandura


Hitting Bedrock

Dreams of Donetsk, Poetry of Serhiy Zhadan and the War in Ukraine

created by Yara Arts Group
with Marina Celander, Andrew Colteaux, Sean Eden, Chris Ignacio,
Julian Kytasty and Maria Pleskevich, plus Melinda Custer,
Caitlin Harding, Piotr Gawelko & Lasha Taktakishvilli

conceived and directed by Virlana Tkacz
poetry & monologs by Serhiy Zhadan
set & light by Watoku Ueno
music by Julian Kytasty
projections by Volodymyr Klyuzko 
costumes by Keiko Obremski
translations by Virlana Tkacz & Wanda Phipps
assistant director: Wanda Phipps
transcriptions: Nadia Sokolenko
stage manager: Nadia Tachin-Scaglione

Feb 20- March 8, 2015
La MaMa 74A East 4th St, NYC tickets: (646) 430-5374,

press release | photos
Virlana's blog "War Makes a Play" for the New York Innovative Theatre Awards site

Inspired by interviews with young people in Donetsk in October 2013 and June 2014 for Yara's Underground Dreams presented by Izolyatsia

Excerpts from Press in New York:

    When I was first told to leave the theater during the beginning of Hitting Bedrock I grinned, thinking I’d misheard. A repeated request, however, was hard and clear enough to let me know that this was no joke. That demand was soon made of everyone in the audience, and within a few minutes we were shepherded out of our seats and downstairs into a basement passageway, then relocated to another shadowy space, all while carrying our belongings in bags.
    This experimental docuplay at La MaMa, which relates stories of Ukrainian war refugees, [in] early moments effectively mimics the confusion felt by people caught in war’s upheaval.
    “Hitting Bedrock,” conceived and directed by Virlana Tkacz, started out as a relatively benign project. In 2013, the Yara Arts Group traveled to Donetsk, Ukraine, for a theater program that asked residents to describe their dreams for the future. It seemed an interesting question to pose to those who live in an unassuming town known primarily for mining (hence the play’s title), and many were eager to participate.
    War broke out in the country a short time later, and some residents fled Donetsk. The troupe contacted a number of the initial contributors via telephone or the Internet, and their updated stories are occasionally heard here in translated voice-overs, as is poetry by the Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan.
    It’s an admirable undertaking, and the audience relocation scene and one in which a woman is accosted by soldiers are potent… Marina Celander, as a refugee, and Sean Eden, as a builder who speaks about his projects in Ukraine, are fine actors, and  Julian Kytasty ’s bandura music fosters an aura of menace. Those three and the rest of the cast help convey the mayhem of horrid circumstances, a situation best summed up by a woman who, mired in the country’s chaos, declares: “It’s frightening to see how history is made.”
‘Hitting Bedrock’ at La MaMa Taps Into War’s Confusion by Ken Jaworowski  3/1/15

    The Yara Arts Group's "Hitting Bedrock" brings a drama to La MaMa ripped from current front-page headlines about the civil war in Ukraine. During this immersion experience, theatergoers watch, listen, participate and learn as they follow the lives of young adults in the vibrant city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. We see their hopes and dreams fade, as a brutal civil war intrudes into their lives and clouds their futures. Audience members are led from their seats through a tunnel around the stage where they are stopped at a roadblock by crude men in balaclavas who order them around and demand their valuables. We hear the sounds of war and violence as we listen to the stories of those caught in its trap. Intermittently, we hear the prose, poetry and music of a rich, local culture. On one side of the stage we see a wooden wall collage reminiscent of Picasso's Guernica. Within the context of La MaMa and experimental theater, this is a timely, vivid and dramatic presentation which brings insight and awareness to the public about this war and all wars. Despite the grim circumstances, it is also imaginative and lyrical with its interspersed eloquent poetry and the beautiful sounds of the bandura (a Ukrainian guitar-like instrument.) … If you're looking for a few laughs and some light entertainment, this is not the play for you. But if you want to be challenged about important contemporary issues and have an unconventional evening at the theater, give this one a try.
Robert Crisco HiDrama, February 23, 2015

"The New York show by Virlana Tkacz is about another Donetsk. The main characters in it are the refugees who dream of returning home and seeing the family, friends and neighbors alive. Serhiy Zhadan wrote about them: "We will never see familiar faces again. We are refugees. We'll run all night." This poem is at the heart of the scenario for the new piece during the war on the eastern front.
    "Hitting Bedrock" created by Yara Arts Group at the First Floor Theatre of La MaMa, is performed primarily in English (with the exception of a few quotes from Zhadan and the traditional Ukrainian songs that are used in the production.) This is unusual for Virlana Tkacz's work. The director wanted to make it easier for non-Ukrainian audience to understand the Donetsk theme. She also did not want the audience to just watch the show. Early on the stage manager interrupts the show and announces that everyone must follow her out of the room. The audience follows her out of the room, downstairs and down a long corridor in the basement where they are transformed into refugees. During the show filled with romance, drama and tragedy, they even see the era of John Hughes, the founder of the city which was once named Yuzivka in his honor. The city was also called Stalino before it was known as Donetsk. Today it is the capital of the separatist DNR.
    During one of the memorable moments, the heroine of the show – a refugee, played by Marina colander, grabs the keys from her apartment: from the front door, the mailbox and two from the door to the apartment, asks the audience "Do you have your keys? Take them out! Get your keys!" She sees a forest of hands with keys and yells" Jingle them! Maybe someone will hear us. Maybe the world will hear us…."
    This is an amazing show that doesn't let you sleep afterwards. The main roles are performed by Marina Celander, Andrew Colteaux, Sean Eden, Christopher Ignacio, Maria Pleskevich, Melinda Custer, Cailin Harding, Pyotr Gawelko, Lasha Taktakishvili. The set and lights are by Watoku Ueno, music by Julian Kytasty, projections by Volodymyr Klyuzko and costumes by Keiko Obremski. The translations are by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps and Nadia Tatchin is the stage manager.
Kateryna Borush, Nova Hazeta(New York), 3/5/15

Audience Reactions

A must see. A terrific work. Congratulations Virlana Tkacz, Serhiy Zhadan and Yara Arts
Adrian Karatnycky, Facebook

AdrianKaratnycky and I went to the first performance yesterday with two expats from Donetsk. A deceptively plain and strong evocation of how war works 'on the ground'--and of what it really means to be a refugee (how you hold on to your keys, put all your things in one suitcase...) and a volunteer soldier-for-hire. No posturing, no rhetoric, no partiinost'. Another triumph for Virlana Tkacz. Highly recommended. Nadia Kizenko, Facebook

"Hitting Bedrock" - a poignant, perceptive, powerful and creative production by the Yara Arts Group at La MaMa Theater, NY. About my hometown, DONETSK, which I feel has been taken away from me. Peter Zalmayev, Facebook

La MaMa 74A East 4th St, NYC tickets: (646) 430-5374,

translations of Serhiy Zhadan's poetry & bio

Virlana's blog "War Makes a Play"
on the New York Innovative Theatre Awards site

Yara at 25: Looking Back/ Moving Forward”

Jan 24, 2015 - March 8, 2015
Wed - Sun 11:30-5 PM
museum exhibit celebrating the 25th anniversary of Yara Arts Group
Ukrainian Museum, 222 E 6th St NYC (212) 228-0110

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