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"Dawn" a new world seems to be on the horizon
photo by Nikita Yurenev

"Autumn" - dancing to a popular street tune
photo by Evgeniy Maloletka

photo by Nikita Yurenev

"Aeroplanes and all the latest technolgy what good are they?"
photo by Waldemart Klyuzko

photo by Nikita Yurenev

"The Highest Power"
photo by Nikita Yurenev

Zhadan & the Dogs sing
"Fight for Her"
photo by Nikita Yurenev

"When two slender girls walk by"
photo by Evgeniy Maloletka

Drunken on revolution
photo by Valeriya Landar

"Old beggar women stretch out
their hands"
photo by Valeriya Landar

"they take the bread, coal and sugar"
photo by Evgeniy Maloletka

photo by Evgeniy Maloletka

Zhadan & the Dogs
photo by Evgeniy Maloletka



The cast pushes the wall shut
photo by Alexey Furman

Skovoroda walked here
photo by Valeriya Landar


1917/2017: Tychyna, Zhadan & the Dogs

In 1917 there's great hope in Kyiv as the Russian Empire fall apart. But constant invasions lead to twelve changes in government in three years, and society crumbles.

Pavlo Tychyna (Ukrainian's greatest poet of the 20th century) writes twelve prose poems describing the events now performed by Yara actors. Serhiy Zhadan (Ukraine's greatest 21st century poet) reacts with songs he sings with his rock group the Dogs.

created by Yara Arts Group

with: Larysa Rusnak, Mykola Shkaraban,
Robert Feldman, Malvina Salijchuk,
Vladislav Onishchenko and Julian Kytasty
Sehiy Zhadan and the Dogs: Ievhen Turchynov, Andrii Pyvovarov, Oleksander Merenchuk, Vitaliy Bronishevskiy, Artem Dmytrychenkov, Serhiy Kuliaenko

conceived and directed by Virlana Tkacz
texts: Pavlo Tychyna & Serhiy Zhadan
music by Julian Kytasty & the Dogs
set & light design: Ievhen Kopiov
projection design: Waldemart Klyuzko
sound: Stanislav Bronishevsky

open rehearsal March 2016 Les Kurbas Theatre Center, Kyiv

Sept 7, 2016 Les Kurbs Theatre Center, Kyiv
Sept 14, 2016 Lviv Publishing Forum
Sept 19, 2016 Gogolfest in Kyiv


After a Gogolfest weekend, Monday provided us with a long-awaited breather. Finally you could rest, relax and think; you didn’t have to rush between locations and could calmly watch only one event. But what an event!... The theatre in ArtHouse 2 was more comfortable than the large stage and allowed the audience to focus on the show. Here the seats were arranged on risers, which gave even the people in the last rows a good view of the stage. But I doubt the organizers managed to pack in everyone who wanted to see Zhadan….
     “1917/2017: Tychyna, Zhadan & the Dogs” is a new theatre piece created by Yara Arts Group (New York) with Ukrainian artists and based on the poetry of Pavlo Tychyna and the poems of Serhiy Zhadan that have become songs he performs with the Kharkiv rock group the Dogs. The idea was brought to life by director Virlana Tkacz, the artistic director of Yara, a resident company at La MaMa Theatre in New York. Projections by Waldemart Klyuzko beautifully incorporated fragments of Tychyna’s manuscript, and became an important element in creating the atmosphere of the production… The core text is Pavlo Tychyna’s “Instead of Sonnets or Octaves,” published in 1920 which includes twelves prose poems. Written in 1917-1920 during very frightening times (when the government in Kyiv changed nine (!) times), they resonate today. Tychyna’s aphoristic poetry inspired the actors to create scenes, which express a variety of views in context. This is what the poet intended: each poem is in two parts – the first describes an event, the second (called an “Antistrophe”) proposes an alternative look at the situation. The poetry transforms into scenes, action, music and projections that describe how people behave as society ruptures, becomes disorganized and demoralized, when everything falls apart.
   The show runs about one hour and is composed of three parts, each is in essence a dialog between centuries (a terrifying realization!) -- between Tychyna’s 20th century poetry and Zhadan’s 21st century texts. Tychyna is presented by the actors, while Zhadan is heard in the songs aggressively performed by Zhadan himself with the Dogs. The songs are sung with wild energy and provoke a flurry of emotions as they burst through the scenes. Perhaps, “Instead of Sonnets or Octaves” – is really a prologue (or epigraph) to our current events that have become the subject of Zhadan’s poems? One of the strongest poems Zhadan wrote recently, “Take Only What Is Most Important,” is performed by the actors at the end. The coda includes Serhiy’s newest song with the Dogs: “Rockets” which he performs as if he were reading it from a book by Tychyna. But, it is not difficult to guess the author of the insightful words.
     The actors create images full of exceptional lyricism, deep experiences and powerful dramatic energy. Historical events acquire new meaning, and Pavlo Tychyna’s words are painfully recognizable, as they resonate with our reality and recent history even in their smallest details. (Towards the end of the show I head: “To play Scriabin for prison guards – this isn’t revolution” and automatically recalled the image of the piano on the barricades in front of the rows of the Berkut Police [during Maidan.] Revolutionary motifs in stark contrast to the harmony of the Universe, the role of art and spirituality – all these remain relevant topics today: history is cyclical and repeats.
     “1917/2017: Tychyna Zhadan and the Dogs” was wonderful to watch and hear. It was great to realize how relevant the events on stage are for us today, even if this realization is painful. We hope that more people in Ukraine will be able to see, hear and experience this production. The long and loud applause, the shouts of “bravo” and the numerous words of thanks afterwards, were a testament to the necessity of this show today.
Showbiz (Kyiv) September 21, 2016

What do you have to do to bring long-forgotten texts of a poet to the attention of contemporary audiences? Simply take 12 little-known poems from “Instead of Sonnets or Octaves” by Pavlo Tychyna, add a little music and light, then throw in a handful of heart plus Zhadan and the Dogs.” The result is guaranteed: tickets to “Tychyna, Zhadan and the Dogs” were sold out four days before the performance at this year’s Gogolfest, even though the show had been presented in town previously. And you could hardly wish for a better way to experience poetry today….
     The scenes are dynamic and change constantly, jumping like an electrocardiogram: life, death, despair, love, war, terror – all together. You physically experience the boundary between epochs, the relation between generations, up close. Quiet lullabies are cut off by gun shots, joy, the light flight of a butterfly, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with terror and executions. The one hundred years between the two poets dissolve in the light of the stage…
     It is not enough to know your own history. You must feel its touch, hurt with it, be burned by it. This project provides you this opportunity. It also allows you to recall your classes in Ukrainian literature, but afterwards you will read the poetry of the past in a new way.
Olena Maksymenko, Ukrainska Pravda, September 22, 2016

The American-Ukrainian production by Yara Arts Group from New York with the Les Kurbas Theatre Center includes 12 poems by Pavlo Tychyna written in the dark days of 1918-1919, four songs by Zhadan and the Dogs and the instrumental meditations by Julian Kytasty on the bandura. The poetic journey through time clearly allows events of a century ago to resonate today. Again, there’s a revolutionary spasm, a war and the unknown. Again there are times of choice, trial and suffering. Again, on ground fertilized by difficult times and emotions grows the young green grass of a fragile future. What a concise, enchanting experiment in musical theatre.  Sept 21, 2016

Yesterday I was at an incredible event. Despite my indifference to poetry, to put it mildly, the show “Tychyna, Zhadan & the Dogs” really got to me. This is not a theatre performance by any classical definition, but rather a theatricalization (and very talented at that) of little-known poems by Tychyna about the civil war in 1917. These are poems they did not teach you in school. Their symbiotic merging with relevant music and poetry by Zhadan and a virtuoso performance on the bandura, created an unbelievable production of highest quality. The effect was enhanced by beautifully selected projections. I was very moved. “Tychyna Zhadan & the Dogs” was created by Virlana Tkacz, the artistic director of Yara Arts Group who has staged 30 shows at La MaMa Theatre in New York. The music for the scenes with Tychyna’s poems was written by Julian Kytasty who performed it on the bandura.  Sept 20, 2016

An American theatre company combined Tychyna and Zhadan at Gogolfest, creating the meeting of Ukrainian literature from different generations and even centuries. The hour-long show included a quintet of actors led by Larysa Rusnak who created a dialog of between two writers: Pavlo Tychyna and Serhiy Zhadan that spans a century.
Hrechka, September 2016.


The show contains the signature elements of Yara Arts Group production: at the center is a text, which becomes the subject and the main rhythmic drive of the plot. The actors insert Tychyna’s poems into today’s events. The text is both delivered and transformed by the actors, and is accompanied by music and precise visual projections. This time Virlana Tkacz decided to break the flow of the performance of the poetry in a unique way. The poems of Serhiy Zhadan break through “Instead of Sonnets or Octaves” as an echo of the era, and immediately transform the theatre piece into a rock concert.
ZAXID.NET (Lviv) Kateryna Slipchenko Sept 17, 2016

What can two poets who live a century apart have in common? Yara Arts Group has created a show based on Pavlo Tychyna’s collection “Instead of Sonnets or Octaves” which was published in 1920 after the revolution in Ukraine. The themes of love and struggle in this book resonate with contemporary poems by Serhiy Zhadan. (Lviv) Sept 17, 2016

This is a great show, in which poetry published in 1920 is intertwined with the fabric of our lives today. The actors, inspired by Tychyna’s laconic poetry, create scenes full of love and insight into our land and current events. Minimally, without any unnecessary effects, the actors embody the poetic images with extraordinary lyricism, full of deep experience and powerful dramatic energy…. Deep yearning for harmony, a search for truth or at least a ray of hope is expressed in the bewildered and perplexed glances of the characters, in their nervous and unsteady movements. This re-imagining of historical reality through poetry and contemporary art – is very effective and provokes the audience to reconsider who they are and what they are doing on earth. by Iryna Holyzdra, Kamerton March 20, 2016

   “We recently celebrated Yara’s 25th Anniversary, and I realized I wanted to return to the poems of “Instead of Sonnets or Octaves,” because they resonate today. They are about similar things that I have heard about the war in Donetsk from young people,” says Virlana Tkacz. How did this appropriation of Tychyna take place? “To create the visual aspect of the show we went to the Tychyna Museum and almost all the visuals projected in the show we found in this museum or the manuscripts of the poet which are in the Archives of the Vernadsky Library. It was fascinating to see how his diary entries written in prose turn into poetry, how he corrects the work and the notes he makes.” The music is a very important part of the show. “Julian Kytasty who plays the bandura created the music for the first part of the show. By the way, Tychyna, also played on the bandura. I wanted something atmospheric, delicate and deep that would support Tychyna’s texts,” says Virlana
   Now Zhadan and the Dogs perform several of their own songs. “I told Serhiy I wanted his music to interrupt the show in three places,” Virlana Tkacz explains her concept. “My idea what that the first song should send the characters outside themselves into the cosmos, to lift them into open another space, but one from which they can return back into their own space…. We hope to create couple more songs that will be reactions to Tychyna. These songs will be created by Serhiy Zhadan and his group “Dogs in Space.”
by Iryna Slavinska Hromadske Radio, March 2016

Dark Night Bright Stars in La MaMa, New York - June 3-19, 2016
Photos from La MaMa show by: Pavlo Terekhov | Waldemart Klyuzko | Lee Wexler

Dark Night Bright Stars in Ukraine - April 28 - May 11, 2014
photos from: Kyiv | Lviv | Odesa | our visit to Shevchenko Museum in Kyiv | La MaMa workshop in 2014

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