The cult play Nation, staged by director Rostyslav Derzhypilsky and based on novels by Maria Matios, could be viewed in Svatove, Kreminna, and Sievierodonetsk. And at the feast of Epiphany, actors performed for ATO fighters by showing their theatrical nativity play at checkpoints. This tour was not simple, because it coincided with the activation of warfare in the east. The requiem drama Nation can be called a prayer for the millions of innocent Ukrainian victims. The play includes ancient Ukrainian songs, and a metaphorical doll was present at the stage as a symbolic medium between life and death (it is an ancient talisman doll, which is a medium between the living and the dead or yet unborn).
“I think that today theater companies have to demonstrate not only their creative accomplishments and skillfulness, but their civic stand as well. We were not afraid of going to Luhansk oblast, we were only worried that people would not come to the play because of shootings. Performing Nation in eastern cities was a test for our company,” told artistic director of Ivano-Frankivsk Theater Rostyslav DERZHYPILSKY to The Day. “It was crucial for us that residents of the liberated territory saw Nation, which tells about the tragic events of late 1940s, when Soviet troops came to western Ukraine [the performance is based on stories by Matios Yuriana and Dovhopol, Forgive Me, and Wake up, Mother. – Author]. One can see on the example of several families how fates and even lives were broken: NKVD officers tortured people, repressed and sent others to Siberia, took their property away, sent them to camps, while some fought for their native land in UPA.
“It is one thing when actors perform for ATO soldiers in hospitals, and absolutely another to perform before civilians who were brainwashed by the Kremlin propaganda for a long time. The theme of the play in rather complicated. This layer of Ukrainian history is little known in the east, and that is why before the beginning, we told what the play was about. I was convinced we were going to reach people’s hearts. I remember how Nation was showed in Donetsk in May 2013. The viewers cried and applauded at the same time. And after these performances in Svatove, Kreminna, and Sievierodonetsk we can say that the barrier between the east and the west is artificial! We are one nation with one country, and the hardships that Ukraine is going through now bring people closer, and we will win!
“There was a full house in all towns where the play was performed. In Sievierodonetsk, head of the Luhansk Oblast State Administration Hennadii Moskal thanked all actors and Maria Matios (the writer and MP went with us on this tour). He said: ‘This play transmitted the pain of Luhansk oblast and the whole Ukraine. Luhansk land must not bleed but unite, just as it was created historically. Nation cannot be read, and the requiem drama cannot be watched without tears!’ According to the audience, such plays and missions raise the people’s patriotic spirit.
“We showed a nativity play for ATO fighters, sang traditional Ukrainian carols, and brought food and other things that our soldiers at the front line need very much.”
“I know for certain that there are a lot of people in Luhansk oblast, who will not give up a single centimeter of our Ukrainian Luhansk land. In our turn, we will keep coming here with plays,” press service of the Luhansk Oblast State Administration quotes Maria Matios’ words.
As a souvenir of the tour, the director of Ivano-Frankivsk Theater gave Moskal an amulet, a symbol of wisdom and guardian of the family and connection between generations: the doll which was a symbol of Nation.