Wednesday 01 March 2017

Four Ukrainian theatre directors, all winners of the British Council Ukraine’s ‘’Taking the Stage” competition, premiered new work by contemporary British playwrights in March and April 2017 at theatres throughout Ukraine.

In June 2016, the British Council (in partnership with Theatre Platform NGO and four renowned British theatre companies) ran a national competition for emerging directors and theatres to stage one of five selected contemporary British plays. Following a stage reading session of long-listed applicants, the Ukraine/UK panel selected the following winners:

  •  Kira Malinina and Laboratory of Theatre, Kharkiv, Ukraine;
  • Yevgen Merzlyakov and the Luhansk Oblast Academic Ukrainian Music-Drama Theatre, Severodonetsk, Ukraine;
  • Tamara Trunova and Kyiv National Academic Operetta Theatre, Kyiv, Ukraine;
  •  Olena Avdeeva and the Arabesque Theatre, Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The winners received partial funding for their productions, media support, and mentoring from leading British theatre professionals (Gbolahan Obesesan, director Young Vic, London; Rachel O’Riordan, Artistic Director Sherman Cymru, Cardiff; Mark Babych, Artistic Director Hull Truck, Hull; Mark Moughan, director Live Theatre, Newcastle). The British Council also covered rights and translated the plays into Ukrainian.

The applications from Victoria Filonchuk and the Chernihiv Regional Academic Ukrainian Drama Theatre, and Dmitry Zahozhenko and the Kyiv New Drama Theatre on Pechersk, received commendations from the panel.

Anna Bubnova, Head of Arts at the British Council Ukraine:  "I’m really looking forward to these new productions and the results they bring. The “Taking the Stage” programme has brought British and Ukrainian professionals together, and that interaction, and the work they’ve done with these new texts, I hope,  has inspired emerging Ukrainian directors to push their creative boundaries, take risks, move beyond conventional forms, and test themselves in new artistic territory.”

Irina Chuzhynova, co-founder of the "Theatrical Platform" NGO: …

Evgen Merzlyakov, one of the winners: “Because of “Taking the Stage”, I’m experiencing a lot of “firsts”: first time speaking with a real British stage director; first time working alone to bring a production to life; first time working with a team not made up of “my people.”


About the Plays:

Evgen Merzlyakov – Duncan McMillan’s play "Lungs" focuses on the difficulties of family and sexual relationships. A young couple is considering having a child, which leads to conflict. Fear, indecision and mutual condescension interfere in their life. Attempts to justify this all as simple concerns about the child’s future reveals a level of deeper issues.

Kira Malinina – The production of Selma Dimitrievich’s " As the gods fall, the safe will not " revolves around the difficult relationship of a mother with her daughter. From the outside, their life seems like a circular repetition of habits yet it conceals a maelstrom of buried emotions. Both women are searching for a way out, and the ability to view the other  without the masks they wear and the rituals they observe and use to conceal the truth.

Tamara Trunova – "Under the Blue Sky" brings together light comedy, operetta extravaganza, and deep psychological examination in one piece. The story examines the absurd accumulation of coincidences in life, featuring characters disoriented and fragmented and in search for a meaning to their lives. 

Victoria Flonchuk – Another take on the Selma Dimitrievich’s "As the gods fall, the safe will not". A search for forgiveness within a complicated mother-daughter relationship. The work examines how easily conflict arises in families, and how fear often prevents acceptance of those we love for what they really are.

Dmitry Zakhozhenko – likes to call his production of “Lungs” a “show about air”: about those living near us, sucking up oxygen. About a quiet nap in a tropical forest. About rare deep-see species of fish. About the remains of dinosaurs discovered in a desert. About ants going about building their communal home. About the tiny decisions that will forever alter our lives. About this same life, wiped away by an invisible current that destroys everything in its path.

About the Programme:

Taking the Stage is an annual theatre programme that offers Ukrainian theatres and emerging directors an opportunity to stage the best of contemporary UK drama in Ukraine. The programme partners are NGO ‘Theatre Platform’ (Ukraine) and leading UK theatres that stage new work: Young Vic (London), Live Theatre (Newcastle upon Tyne), Hull Truck Theatre  (Hull) and Sherman Cymru (Cardiff).

The programme selection panel included representatives of UK theatres, the British Council and Ukrainian theatre professionals: an acclaimed Ukrainian director Dmytro Bogomazov, a theatre critic Ganna Veselovska, and a playwright, screenwriter, curator Natalia Vorozhbyt.

For more information, please visit You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and