East European Performing Arts Platform (EEPAP) supports the
development of contemporary performing arts (dance and theatre)
in 18 countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

DESANT: Theatre Laboratory, 4th session - "Pressure - Oppression - Emancipation", Lublin, October 2015

DESANT: Theatre Laboratory, 4th session - “Pressure – Oppression – Emancipation”, Lublin, October 2015

The 4th session of International Theatre Laboratory in Lublin “Pressure-oppression-emancipation” was held during the Theatre Confrontations Festival in Lublin on October 9-19. The participants were theatre directors, playwrights, curators and theatre researchers from Ukraine. The Laboratory focused on the performative strategies of defining and problematizing oppressive moral, political and aesthetic systems; on emancipation projects characteristic of specific cultural spaces; on the role of censorship and auto-censorship in art.

The session was organised as a seminar. Its participants watched and discussed the festival performances, wrote the critical reviews, took part in workshops, disscussions and lectures given exclusively for the participants of the Laboratory by the invited quests: Goran Injac (artistic director of Mladinsko Theatre, Lyublyana), Holly Hughes (performer, professor at University of Michigan), Joanna Krakowska (theatre historian and researcher, Polish Academy of Science) and, simultaneously, continued working on their projects.

In accordance with the rule of self-education, part of the lectures and discussions related to the topic of gender and queer theory were led by the participants themselves. We also worked on the strategy of development of the Laboratory. One day was dedicated to the evaluation meeting led by the representatives of Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

The session in Lublin also featured presentations of work-in-progress by the participants. The performance “Opolchenec” (“Separatist”) created by the director Anton Romanov, playwrights Den and Jana Hummenyi, and actress Galina Dzikayeva was presented in the Centre of Culture in Lublin.

The 4th session of the Laboratory was organised as part of the DESANT educational project which has been carried out by the East European Performing Arts Platform (EEPAP) since 2012 under the curatorship of Joanna Wichowska. Desant is addressed at artists, critics and theoreticians of performing arts in the Eastern Partnership countries. The DESANT activities are rooted in local reality and related to a specific socio-political context; they combine workshop elements with theoretical reflection and are created in close cooperation with partner organisations.

The activities of DESANT in the years 2013-2015 took place mostly in Ukraine. This choice naturally followed from the need to continue projects initiated in previous years, but first and foremost was a response to the socio-political situation in Ukraine and specific needs signalled by our partners. The events of the 2013/2014 Ukrainian Revolution, the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia and the war in the east of the country made the need to cooperate with Ukrainian artists all the more pressing. All involved curators and artists were acutely aware that the critical situation in the country requires deep reflection, a confrontation of views and ideas, a joint action to reform social and cultural life, a dialogue between artists, theoreticians and audiences from various regions of the country.


Consultations with EEPAP Ukrainian partners and co-organisers led to the decision that DESANT activities should take a form of an intense laboratory work to increase the effectivity of the meetings and increase their impact (also in time). In accordance with these guidelines, a series of workshops carried out in previous years was followed in 2014 and 2015 by the thematic working sessions of the International Theatre Laboratory.

The Laboratory does not aim to treat the participants as students, or passive consumers of knowledge. Instead, it engages them in the realisation process of specific artistic projects. Working groups formed during the meetings work on specific performative projects to be presented later in public and independent institutions in different regions of Ukraine. The most important aim of the cyclical meetings is to facilitate joint intellectual work that could assist in finding alternatives for the anachronistic and oppressive theatrical system that dominates in Ukraine; to develop new models of artistic and organisational action and to foster creative and theoretical reflection on current events.

DESANT curator: Joanna Wichowska / EEPAP
Cooperation: Viktor Sobiijanskyi, Iryna Chuzhynova / Kiev, Oksana Dudko, Viktoria Schvydko / Lviv; Mykola Homanyuk / Kherson
Co-organisers: Theatre Platform / Kiev; Art Workshop Drabyna and the First Scene of Contemporary Dramaturgy Drama.UA / Lviv; the Centre for Youth Initiatives Totem and the Kherson Regional Department of Sociological Association of Ukraine / Kherson
Educators: Marcin Cecko, Joanna Wichowska, Holly Hughes, Goran Injac, Joanna Krakowska
Participants of the 4th session of Laboratory:
Olena Apchel
, theatre director, founder of the Testo theatre studio (Kharkiv); Pavlo Arie, playwright, curator (Lviv/Cologne); Ihor Bilyts, theatre director, founder of the Bilyts Art Centre actor studio (Kyiv); Galina Dzikayeva, theatre director, actress (Simferopol/Kyiv); Iryna Garets, playwright, founder of the Poltava Theatre Laboratory (Poltava), Lubov Ilnytska, theatrologist, literary director of the Les Kurbas Lviv Academic Theatre (Lviv); Maria Yasinska, theatrologist, translator (Kyiv); Valentyna Yeremenko, theatre director (Kyiv); Tetiana Kitsenko, playwright, journalist (Kyiv); Iuliia Maslak, theatre director, lecturer at the Karpenko-Kary National University (Kyiv); Oles Pavlutin, theatre director (Cherkasy); Anton Romanov, theatre director (Simferopol/Kyiv); Roza Sarkisian, theatre director, founder of the De Facto theatre (Kharkiv); Viktoria Schvydko, theatre curtor, director of Art Workshop Drabyna (Lviv); Mykola Homanyuk, theatre curator, author of documentary performances, chief of the Kherson Regional Department of Sociological Association of Ukraine (Kherson).

Images here