Восточноевропейская платформа перформативного искусства (EEPAP)
поддерживает развитие современного перформативного искусства
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DESANT: Theatre Laboratory, 3rd session - "Hero - image - dramaturgy", Pokrovka, Heroyske, Kherson, August 2015

DESANT – Theatre Laboratory in Ukraine – 3rd session, Pokrovka, Heroyske, Kherson, 9-17.08.2015

International Summer Theatre Laboratory "Hero – image - dramaturgy”
Міжнароднa Літня Театральна Лабораторія " Герой-образ-драматургічність"


The third session of the Theatre Laboratory took place in the scenery of Kinburn Spit (Кимбурская Коса) in the South of Ukraine. It was co-organized by the Kherson Regional Branch of the Ukrainian Sociological Society (ХОO САУ).  The new participants from various regions of Ukraine joined the core group of theatre directors, playwrights and dramaturges working together since the first Laboratory.

The starting point of the work was the research into the phenomenon of a hero: male and female, real one and imaginary one; a hero coming from history, from the mass-media or from everyday life, a hero as a product of our times, of politics, of propaganda, and a hero as a character constructed within works of art. The Laboratory started from the research conducted in the Heroyske village (named after “hero”), where we met with local activists, traditional singers, witnesses of the history. Later on, during practical work, together with the group of Polish and Ukrainian trainers, the participants investigated different aspects of the social and artistic creation of a hero.

Mariana Sadovska (Lviv/Cologne), an internationally acclaimed composer, musician and singer, conducted the master-classes “Hero in action: musicality in theatre”, dedicated to reinventing tradition using the example of the contemporary arrangements of traditional Ukrainian songs. Taras Prokhasko (Ivano-Frankivsk), renowned Ukrainian writer, journalist and translator, gave lectures on the construction of a hero in literature and in social life. Joanna Wichowska (Warsaw), curator and dramaturge, explored with the participants the fictionalization of a hero – both in society and on stage. Marcin Cecko (Warsaw), poet, dramaturg, playwright and photographer, introduced the participants to the various visual representations of heroic and non-heroic stories and conducted  practical workshop on short videos.

During the last three days of the Laboratory the participants worked on short videos that thematised their individual approaches both to the subject of a “hero” and to their own work related to this topic. In fact they were portraying themselves – their own, personal, emotional and intellectual fight with the topic, their own doubts regarding the shared understanding of it, their own artistic projects they were currently working on, their own thoughts that were being born exactly there and then, during the work, on Kinburn Spit, far away from everyday life. The collection of the short videos that was created is an unique portrait of the artists that are living in horrendous times, struggling with the reality of the war, questioning official versions of heroism, re-thinking this very reality by revealing their own, sometimes very intimate, sometimes ironic, perspective, by using fragments of their own biographies, by turning the cameras on themselves.

The first public presentation of the video work “About the heroes and not” ("Про героїв і не")  took place at Mykola Kulish Theatre in Kherson, on the very last day of the Laboratory, August 16. The video was later on presented at the First Stage of the New Dramaturgy “Drama.UA” in Lviv during the XXІІ Publishers' Forum on September 2015.

Participants: Artemiy Anischchenko, theatre director, (Pryluky, Chernihiv region); Maksym Afanasyev, visual artist, aristic director of the Centre for Youth Iniciatives “Totem” (Kherson); Olena Apchel, theatre director, (Kharkiv); Ihor Bilyts, theatre director, founder of actors’ studio BilytsArtCentre (Kyiv); Oleksyi Bukalov, actor, translator (Kherson); Iryna Garets, playwright, founder of Poltava Theatre Laboratory (Poltava); Galina Dzhikaeva, theatre director, actress (Simferopol, Crimea / Kyiv), Den Gumennyi, playwright, journalist, (Kyiv); Yana Gumennaya, playwright (Kyiv); Liubov Ilnytska, literary manager at Les Kurbas Theatre (Lviv); Maria Yasinska, theatre researcher, translator (Kyiv); Tetiana Kytsenko, playwright, journalist (Kyiv); Yulia Maslak, theatre director, lecturer at National Karpenko-Karyi University (Kyiv); Yevgenyi Merzlakov, actor, playwright (Lugansk/Cherkasy); Oles Pavliutin, theatre director (Cherkasy); Anton Romanov, theatre director (Simferopol, Crimea / Kyiv); Rosa Sarkisian, theatre director (Kharkiv); Volodymir Steckovich, video-artist, set-designer (Lviv); Valentyna Yeremenko, theatre director (Kyiv); Oleksyi Zhyla-Basel, theatre and film director (Odessa).


The 3th 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.

The Summer Laboratory in Pokrovka was organized within the EEPAP educational project DESANT and XOO SAY project “Theatre of Understanding: South Ukrainian Discussion Platform on the basis of documentary theatre” supported by International Renaissance Foundation.

Curator of EEPAP educational project DESANT: Joanna Wichowska
Idea and coordination of the Summer Theatre Laboratory: Mykola Homanyuk (XOO SAY), Joanna Wichowska (EEPAP)
Cooperation: Viktor Sobiianskyi (Theatre Platform/Kyiv), Viktoria Shvydko (Art Workshop Drabyna/Lviv)

Educators: Joanna Wichowska, Marcin Cecko, Mariana Sadovska, Taras Prokhasko

Producer: Ewa Molik (EEPAP)

Some images can be viewed here.