Theatre reflects the philosophy of our times. Due to its
more or less abstract, common and simplistic images, the
artists transmit to the "simple viewer" the most complex
concepts, problems and situations of today's life.
The idea of a street performance was first implemented in
Sevastopol in 1994, during the Chersonesus Games Theatre
Festival; the performance was called Description of a
Monster. Subsequent performances in the UKMA courtyard in
Kyiv include Coming Home on September 1, 1995 (produced by
V. Bilchenko), Opus No. 4 on October 16, 1995, Opus No. 5 on
June 20, 1996 (with first participation by UKMA students),
and Marko from Hell on June 28, 1998 (Convocation Day). The
theatre also performed a Street Concert in October 1998 at
the Golden Lion Festival in Lviv. Director - Anatoli
Petrov.Street theatre reflects and materializes mentality of
people and philosophy of time. It could be
intellectually - entertaining and thus gaining the maximum
influence on audience.Due to its more or less abstract,
common and simplistic images, street theatre is able to
transmit to the "simple viewer" the most complex concepts,
problems and situations of today?s life. Gathering a crowd
of random citizens, street theatre frees the souls of people,
cleanses their instincts, teaches how to exist comfortably
in a community.
"In European countries, the tradition of carnivals and
street happenings, going back to the Middle Ages, still
survives even in today's television era. In Ukraine
television has taken possession of the people. What can
oppose it? The street performances by the Experimental
Theatre are an attempt to win over the spectating masses in
the street, to switch their attention to live events and
even to have them participate in them".
Ukraine the first collective, which was engaged in street
theatre, became group of the actors of the Kyiv Youth
theatre (now Kyiv academic Young theatre). Later actors were
separated, having created Experimental theatre. The director
Valeriy Bilchenko supervised; he has finished an
actor-director's rate of the Russian academy of theatrical
art, headed by the outstanding Russian director Anatoliy
Vasiliev. After several years without a normal premise, the
Kiev Experimental theatre was placed in territory of Kyiv
Mohyla academy with auditorium approximately on 50
places.The first performances were spent in a premise: “Archaeology”,
“And sad B” of A. Shipenko, “Shot in autumn garden” of A.
Chekhov. Valeriy Bilchenko has received “Kyiv Pectoral” for
best direction for “And sad B”, by the best performances of
Kyiv admitted “And sad B”, “Shot in autumn garden”. Except
for the numerous Ukrainian awards, the Experimental theatre
went on tour on Europe, receiving the awards and on the
international festivals. In parallel with work above chamber
performances, the theatre created also street
performances.The first street performance of Ukraine was
held in July, 1993 in Sevastopol on a theatrical festival
“Chersoneses games”. The director was Valeriy Bilchenko, the
performance referred to as “Product nr3”.
realization was not the unique impressing factor. For
example, in one episode from a window the actor in the form
of the militiaman looked out, played the fragment and was
hidden, and in the certain time from a window, under shouts
of public, the dummy dressed in the same form fell. One more
detail, which approached performance to life of city – fire
in one of windows of the next house. Some spectators
perceived it as a part of “Product nr 3”.This performance was
not accepted by the theatre-goers and more never was played.
The following street performance became direction of
Anatoliy Petrov. The name – “Product nr4”. The premiere was
held in Kyiv Mohyla academy in 1994. In performance the
stilts, roller skates etc. were widely used.
This performance was played more than time, and was
submitted on a theatrical festival “Golden Lion” in Lviv.
Then the cooperation of theatre with theatre “Voskresinnia”,
artistic director Yaroslav Fedoryshyn, began.
The work of Experimental theatre and above chamber
performances did not stop. The following became “Eastern
match ” and “Waiting for Godot”
1997 theatre has left Valeriy Bilchenko. The new artistic
director became Oleksandr Ignatusha. He was a director of
“Amphitrion” Samuel Beckett. This performance has taken
“Kyiv Pectoral” for best scenographic – Volodymyr
But Oleksandr Ignatusha too has left theatre and a bit later
place of the artistic director has occupied Anatoliy Petrov.
He has made the rate on street performances, but did not
forget and about classics, for which statement other
directors were invited.
Street performances of that period are “Carnival “Dreams”
and “Hellish Marko”. “Carnival” was made of separate numbers
on stilts which are not plaited in one subject line. It was
very convenient, when, for example, the passer – by joined
viewing performance, it did not need to find out a plot.
Numbers were clear and were executed without words,
therefore performance was equally well perceived in the
different countries – from Denmark up to Tunisia. One more
advantage became use of stilts – as the actors were above
the spectators, much more people could them see.
“Carnival” – the very maneuverable performance, for it is
not required of scale scenery, only checkroom for changing
clothes. Very easily “Carnival” it is possible to transform
to parade by streets of city in bright celebratory costumes.
already was seen by the spectators and all Europe, Africa,
and Asia. “Carnival “Dreams” became the champion of shows to
street performances at theatre - was played more than 50
times – and is its card. The performance, changing and being
improved, remains in an arsenal of theatre since 1998.
Performance “Hellish Marko” is based on legend about cossack
Marko, which was lowered in hell, has won the Lucifier and
has released all cossacks.
The performance was constructed on national dances,
choreographers - Tetiana and Volodymyr Egorov. A plenty of
tricks also was used.
The performance was scale, with a plenty of scenery, with
fiery action. Therefore large transport was necessary for
This performance too was very popular, because told about
the Ukrainian traditions, life and customs.
“Hellish Marko” was some times updated.
At this time on a classical stage in direction of Larisa
Paris there is “Bald singer”, E. Ionesco. The performance
had the large success and has won some awards “Kyiv Pectoral”,
including for the best female role – Valeriy Legin, and best
female role of the second plan – Viktoria Avdeenko.
the Experimental theatre
joined famous director Volodymyr Ogloblin who
has directed “Ghosts” of Henrik Ibsen
and Olena Bogatyreva directed “Cassandra” then. The performance for children
titled “As the Iron Wolf has rescued
winter”, directed by Anatoliy Petrov.after that. The new performance “Between Earth and Heaven” – story about
the small man with the large dream has appeared succesfully.. The
performance had the large success and received the awards of
the European festivals. The following step in development of
street theatre of Ukraine became the joint Ukrainian-Polish
project “Mazepa”. Two Ukrainian theatres - Kiev Experimental
theatre and Liv theatre “Voskresinnia” - and
Krakow theatre KTO, director of performance - Jerzy Zon. The episode was
described, when future hetman was page of the French king.
On a legend Mazepa was immured alive in a room on accusation
in connection with the wife of one of grandees.Scenery for
performance was produced very scale. A vast crate, on which
the professional musician, long trains for royal retinue sat
at drum-type installation, four-meter machine, which fell
asleep by sand Mazepa in the ending.For transportation
of scenery of performance the lorry with the trailer goes.
“Mazepa” was shown in many cities of Poland and Ukraine,
switching Kyiv, Lviv and Lutsk.
But for Experimental theatre this project had also negative
consequences. Behind some days up to a premiere the actor
Oleksandr Svyetlyakov, which should play Mazepa, has broken
a hand. On a premiere of July 14, 2001 in Krakow three
actors have received burns of the person. Anatoliy Petrov
has received trauma too.All this has suspended development of the Kyiv theatre and
manufacture of new performances by Experimental theatre.
Only in 5 years; when the Kyiv experimental theatre already
has lost a premise in Kyiv Mohyla academy and was
incorporated with theatre “Golden Gates”, many from the
actors send to the Kyiv academic Young theatre; under its
name the new performance “Holubka” was created. It was the
performance with the Ukrainian dances, national songs and
Soon, in 2007 was produced street performance for children
It was 1988 when a group of actors from the Kyiv Youth
Theatre formed a theatre-studio. At first it was located in
basement premises on Chkalov Street and staged its
performances in various venues. In 1994 the theatre moved to
the University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy". It was during the
time that Ukrainian theatre (and not only) awakened from its
lethargic stupor and began developing new, so-called
avant-garde forms. Valeri Bilchenko was one of the
enthusiasts of this rebirth, for whom theatre was "not only
a simple, artificially created artistic world, but actually
materialised ethics and philosophy", and who gathered a
group of like-minded seekers of new forms. They put on
Archeology in 1989 and And he said B in 1991, both based on
plays by Oleskii Shypenko; the former created a stir at the
first Golden Lion Festival in Lviv. In 1993 Bilchenko
established his own experimental theatre studio, which
culminated its existence with the performance of The Eastern
March in 1994. After that the theatre continued on its own.
The Kyiv Experimental Theatre is called “experimental”
because it stages “experimental” plays. In spite of being
tautological, this statement nevertheless brings out the
most essential feature of this theatre. At present, the
theatre functions on the premises of the National Academy of
Kyiv Mohyla Academy (NUKMA), probably, quite a proper place
for it.It began as the Kiev Youth Theatre at the end of the
Valeriy Bilchenko staged two plays, Archaeology (1989) and I
Said “F...” (1991), both based on dramas by Oleksiy
Shypenko.Archaeology made a sensation at the first Golden
Lion Theatre Festival in Lviv (since then it has become a
regular and prestigious theatre festival in Ukraine). I Said
“F...” shocked some and made others ponder the most
essential issues of our life. Inspired by his early
successes, the young director decided to go ahead and create
his own theatre which would develop along “experimental”
lines. The Eastern March staged in 1994 was experimental in
the sense that the actors centred on improvisation rather
than on faithfully rendering every word of the play. It was
improvisation not for improvisation’s sake but for the sake
of creating certain moods that would change as the play
unfolded. Waiting for Godot, the new theatre’s next play
based on Beckett’s, took experimentation one step further.
The two protagonists do not seem to be waiting for anybody
any longer, they are quite satisfied with talking to each
other; they argue, confess to wrong doing, discuss politics
and weather. In the play that basically preserved the text
of the original play by Beckett, the emphasis is laid upon
nuances in the changing moods of the protagonists (as they
were played by Anatoliy Petrov as Estragon, and Yaroslav
Chornenky as Vladimir) rather than on the absurdist waiting
for the “saviour” who will never come anyway. The play
paradoxically turned the absurdity of existence (as Beckett
originally designed his play to show) into a serendipitous
discovery of the miracle of life.
photos by Alisa Bozhko
Waiting for Godot
was directed by Alla Zamanska (and not by Bilchenko, the
founder of the new theatre who had already left the theatre
by that time), and performed on a stage provided by NUKMA.
Another play by the Kyiv Experimental Theatre, which also
turned out to be a remarkable event in Kyiv’s theatrical
life, was A Shot in the Autumn Garden based on Chekhov’s
play Cherry Orchard. The play received a prestigious award,
Kiev Pectoral, in 1995, in the best play of the year and
best director nominations. In 1998, the Experimental Theatre
again won Kiev Pectoral in two nominations for The Bald
Opera Singer based on a play by Ionescu, and directed by
Larysa Paris (a director from Moscow who, surprisingly
enough, speaks excellent Ukrainian and elegantly performs as
an actress in The Chairs at the Dvoyina Theatre). Valeriy
Lehin for his role in The Bald Opera Singer got an award for
the best leading role and another award went to Viktoriya
Avdeyenko for the best supporting role.
Staging plays in the theatre of the absurd line, the
Experimental Theatre does not overdo with “black paint.”
These plays deal with issues close to the Ukrainian
mentality: friendship, love and family.
Family has been given much attention by playwrights and
directors in the past and it is being given much attention
now. Family can be regarded as a sort of a paradoxical
situation, and as such has a lot of material for playwrights
of the absurdist line.
These days when so
many prophecies of the impending doom are uttered by anyone
who can talk, the middle class values seem to be the only
hope for survival. The plays staged by the Experimental
Theatre are a success for several reasons — good acting,
humour, good choice of plays, life-asserting, not at all
vulgar, and probing into profound issues of life. In 1998,
the Kiev Experimental Theatre got another Kiev Pectoral
award, this time for the best scenography (Amphitrion by
Peter Hax). The Goethe-Institut cultural centre in Kiev was
involved in the production of the play.Amphitrion, a light
philosophical comedy which would probably suit best a
commercial theatre, was turned by the Experimental Theatre
into an ironic philosophic drama. Deity Night (Tetyana
Shuran), top deity Jupiter (Valeriy Legin) and his messenger
Mercury (Taras Rudenko) come down to earth from their
heavenly abode to find themselves in a chaotic and
disturbing situation. The stage (scenographer Volodymyr
Karashevsky) looks like a building site, complete with
mounds of sand, cement and timber. There is even a sort of a
big tub in the centre of the stage for mixing sand, cement
and water. The deities fly around and once in a while fall
into the tub. But the mortals who are engaged in the never
ending building or repairing process, feel themselves quite
at home. In the interaction of gods and mortals the true
worth of man, made of dust and to dust returning, engaged
mostly in wars and a little in love, is revealed.
Archeology And He Said B? -Best Actress (Victoria Avdieynko)
at the 1990 International Festival Golden Lion in Lviv
Best Production at the 1991 Berezillia Festival in
Special Prize at the International Festival in Torun
Performences at the 1992-95 Chersonesus Games.
A Shot in an Autumn Orchard - prize for stage direction at
the 1995 International Torun Festival.
Waiting for Godot - performed at the 1996 International
Golden Lion Festival in Lviv;
and the International Promised Land Festival in Lodz.
Street Concerts - participated in the 1998 International
Golden Lion Festival in Lviv,
the 1998 Slavic Bazaar in Vitebsk, and the 1998 Scena
International Festival of Avant-Garde Theatres in Hannover;
Theatre Director Anatoli Petrov awarded by Mayor of Kiev in
1998 Kiev Pectoral
awards - Best Actress (Legin in The Bald Opera Singer), Best
Supporting Actress (Avdiejenko in The Bald Opera Singer),
and Best Stage Design (Karashevsky for Amphitrion). Since
the autumn 1998 season it has been working as a repertory
theatre-as of May 1999 it has four productions in its
repertoire, along with a children's New Year's story. The
Kyiv Experimental Theatre Studio (KETS) regularly puts on
street shows, and it participates in festivals both in
Ukraine and abroad (Belarus, Poland, Germany, Tunisia, Cypr,
Theatre has been taking part in the co-production with KTO
Theatre (Poland) and Voskresinnia Theatre (Ukraine) titled
At present Theatre is working under supervisor of famous
Academic Kiev Young Theatre.