On 12 and 13 October on Stage 6, Dovzhenko Centre the ten finalists of Taking the Stage 2018 performed dramatic sketches of their projects, judged by both the audience and the professional jury.

The winners:

You can watch video streams of the first and the second day of the Festival

Find yourself at the photos from the first and the second day.

Taking the Stage 2018 finalists

  • "Far Away", Caryl Churchill, directed by Maks Afanasiev, Academic Puppet Theatre, Totem Centre Theatre Lab (Kherson);
  • "Farmer Giles Of Ham", John R. R. Tolkien, directed by Tymofii Biniukov, Regional Puppet Theatre (Odesa);
  • "The Lover", Harold Pinter, directed by Nata Budarina, Ukrainian Small Drama Theatre (Kyiv);
  • "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead", Tom Stoppard, directed by Mariia Hrunicheva, Mala Opera (Kyiv);
  • "Pentecost", David Edgar, directed by Larysa Didenko, The First Theatre for Children and Youth (Lviv);
  • "Institute for National Abandonment", directed by Jack Clover, PostPlay Theatre (Kyiv);
  • "Macbeth", William Shakespeare, directed by Yevhenii Sydorenko, Chernihiv Youth Theatre,  Teatrum Mundi (Chernihiv);
  • "Every Brilliant Thing", Duncan Macmillan, directed by Tamara Trunova, Actor Theatre (Kyiv);
  • "Alice in Wonderland", Lewis Carroll, directed by Iryna Tsypina, First Theatre for Children and Youth (Lviv);
  • "Amsterdam", Ian McEwan, directed by Olena Shchurska, Ukrainian Small Drama Theatre (Kyiv).

This year's theme “Open Societies: Is the Past Prologue?”

In The Tempest (Act 2), there is a scene that ranks among the most gripping in all of Shakespeare. In it, Antonio works to convince his brother Sebastian to murder their father. They have no choice, he argues. “What’s past is prologue” he tells his brother, “what to come in yours and my discharge.” Fate has placed them at this point in time and, once their father is dead, great adventure awaits.

Change, the play tells us, is inevitable, and this is where things get interesting. Shakespeare, centuries ahead of the thinking of his time, suggests that what matters most is our individual response to the challenges that attend significant change. How will Sebastian respond to this challenge of fate?

How do we respond to change or the potential for it? The current generation is the best equipped in history to analyse and absorb alterations to our social structure. We possess greater access to information, technical expertise and social literacy than any other generation at any time in human history. We have the tools to manage inevitable change to our benefit. A rough reading of 20th-century history would suggest that we have done exactly that, if somewhat imperfectly. As a species, we have largely overcome the kind of potent emotional appeal that made colonialism desirable and totalitarianism possible. We have opted for free, open societies whose structures are amenable to change. We have become sufficiently sophisticated intellectually to prevent ourselves from becoming trapped into a single, regulated manner of thinking about things – about race, gender, culture, God, economics, political power, education, art and even fate.

Or have we?

Have the successes of an open society – a social structure that is unfailingly unprejudiced toward alternative points of view – resulted in more real change and more potential for change than we can, as a species, handle? Do the current political trends catching on in western democracies that favour isolationism, closed borders, “ethnic purity” and “traditional values” suggest that we are poised to return to the more rigid, less permissive social structures of our past? And do these trends reflect a conscious choice? Or, is the pushback against human rights, personal mobility, economic independence, immigration, and the primacy of individual identity simply part of our biological resistance to change and our learned preference for inertia? After all, in virtually all naturally occurring phenomena, from radio-isotopes to weather systems to local politics, the natural manner of things is the maintenance of order in an effort to mitigate, if not utterly avoid, chaos and confusion.  Perhaps “the past is prologue” is just another way of saying we can’t fight our ontogeny.  We are what we are.

Some take this darker view, suggesting that our prologue – our past – is inescapable; our tribal instincts will never leave us entirely at peace. We are built to exercise power. If it is necessary to guarantee our survival, we will, as a species, resist concepts like the free exchange of ideas and dignity in identity. Another famous British author described it this way: “if you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” (1984, George Orwell)

In truth, the alternative – the continuance of the progressive, open society – is hardly less terrifying, filled as it is with the unknown, the uncertain, and the insecure. And yet the assertion that “to live and let live” is the only truly humane way forward has such strong appeal. To continue to develop our capacity for benevolence. To embrace “the Other”. To open ourselves to every influence, to tolerate every difference and thus to survive, even prosper.

The choice, it would seem, stands before us.  Consider these thoughts to be your invitation to apply to Taking the Stage: 2018 and address your stagecraft to the question – Open Societies: Is the Past Prologue?

by Joel Rakos

Contest Calendar

1 June — 29 July — Application Period       

29 July — 12 August — Translation of applications  

13 August — 3 September — Jury review of applications 

7 September — Contest short-list announced 

10-14 October — Rehearsals, public presentation of the project, jury interviews with directors; 

November — December — Start of pre-production stage for contest winners working together with mentors; 

February — March 2019 — Production Premieres. 

Ukrainian members of the Jury

Maya Harbuzyuk is a theatre critic and historian. Following graduation from Kyiv Karpenko-Kariy University she earned post-graduate degrees in Art Studies and Theatre. Between 1991 and 2001 she worked in the literary department of Lviv’s Zankovetska National Theatre, and from 1999 until the present as first an associate and eventually full professor of the theatre arts department and acting studio of Lviv’s Franko University.  She is the editor-in-chief of the theatrical research journal Proscenium. She heads the Theatre Studies Commission of the Shevchenko Scientific Society and has served on countless juries at Ukrainian theatre festivals. She is the author of more than 200 scientific monographs and articles. Her research interests include Shakespearian production in Ukraine, foreign language theatre in Ukraine, Lviv theatre history, post-colonial studies, comparative theatre studies and imagology in drama. 

Rostislav Derzhipilskiy is both director and artistic director of city of Ivano-Frankivsk’s Ivan Franko Regional Music and Drama Theatre. He teaches acting at the Stefanyk Precarpathian Institute of Arts, is General Director of the PORTO FRANKO International Festival of Contemporary Art, is deputy chair of the National Theatrical Union of Ukraine, and is recognised as a National Artist of Ukraine.

He is a close student of repertory theatre and an advocate for incorporating the best of both classical and contemporary Ukrainian and European theatre on the modern stage. He is regularly invited to work with other leading directors and venues, and supports theatrical structural reform that allows for the most qualified professional personnel to work in theatre. During his administration the Ivan Franko has been awarded the status of “Academic Theatre”.

Under his leadership the theatre restored its touring schedule and history of festival participation. For the first time in its history the Ivano-Frankivsk theatre troupe has toured other continents, bringing the play Sweet Darusia to the Canadian cities of Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, and to the United States, performing in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago.

Stas Zhyrkov is both director and artistic director of the Kyiv Golden Gates Academic Theatre, head of youth policy at the National Theatrical Union, and has been recognised as an Honoured Artist of Ukraine.

In addition to his work at the Golden Gates, he collaborates with other theatres, notably the Kyiv Academic Youth Theatre where he has staged Bogoslavsky’s The Love of People and Tracy Letts’ Osage County and others, and also at Kyiv’s Theatre on Podol. In 2016, he was invited to take part of the German-Ukrainian Wild East Fest at the Magdeburg Theatre where he produced Pavlo Arie’s At the Beginning and End of Time. In 2017, he and Arie co-produced a contemporary treatment of Ivan Franko’s Stolen Happiness entitled Why Mikhailo Gurman Did Not Survive at the Magdeburg.


Stas Zhyrkov productions have toured international festivals in Belarus, Germany and Poland as part of the European ETC and IETM showcases. He is the recipient of Kyiv Pectoral theatrical awards for his productions of Stalkers (best chamber performance) and Glory to the Heroes (best director), both plays by Pavlo Arie.

UK members of the Jury

Caroline Steinbeis is a freelance director. She was born in Munich and now lives in London. Caroline studied at the London University of Royal Holloway and completed her MA at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Caroline won the prestigious JMK Award for Outstanding Directors in 2009 and was invited to present her work at the Radikal Jung Festival in Munich in 2011. She worked as International Associate for the Royal Court Theatre from 2011-2013 and is currently Associate Director at Sheffield. Recent directing credits include: Love and Information (Sheffield Theatres), Edward II (Cambridge Arts Theatre), The Tempest (Royal & Derngate), The Crucible (Manchester Theatre Royal), We Want You To Watch (National Theatre), The Broken Heart (Globe Theatre), Show 6 (Lyric Hammersmith), Take, Love, Run (Molodiy Theatre Kiev), Talkshow (Royal Court), Mint (Royal Court), Brilliant Adventures (Manchester Royal Exchange), A Time To Reap (Royal Court), Earthquakes in London (UK Tour for Headlong Theatre), Charged (Soho), The Cost of Things (Public Theatre, NY), Sports et Divertissements (La Carrier Du Normandoux, Poitier), Mad Forest and Photo Story (BAC) and Mile End (Southwark Playhouse and UK tour) as well as numerous readings and workshops for the National Theatre, Royal Court, Young Vic, Soho, Old Vic and Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Javaad Alipoor is a writer, director, journalist, dramaturge and activist.  He makes work across a wide variety of scales and contexts.  He has been an associate director of Theatre in The Mill where he mentored and supported the work of young artists, and an associate director of The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, where he directed a revival of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. He wrote/co-directed and performed in The Believers Are But Brothers which one multiple awards, including a Fringe First and a Lustrum award, when it opened at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, before transferring to The Bush Theatre London, and international touring.  His writing on art and politics has appeared in publications including The Guardian, The Independent and The Stage and books published by Continuum and Unkant.  He is a co-founder of a number of pro migrant groups including BradfordSaysEveryoneStays and Northern Lines, a project that uses forum theatre to transform the lives of economically and socially isolated people.

Juliet Forster

Recent work includes directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream as part of the inaugural season of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, Europe’s first ever pop-up Shakespearean theatre. As Associate Director of York Theatre Royal she has directed:  The Book of Dragon, Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes, The Machine Stops, Twelfth Night, Betrayal, The Crucible, See How They Run, In Fog and Falling Snow, Two Planks and a Passion, A Number, Angels & Insects, Blue/Orange, Morgana le Fey, Escaping Alice, Oleanna, Rupert Brooke, Beyond Measure, The Journey, Whatever Next! and Rabbit & Hedgehog, as well as Objects of Terror, Henry IV and Tales from Kafka with Out of Character Theatre Company. As Associate Practitioner for the Royal Shakespeare Company, she has directed young people’s productions based on The Tempest, Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing and Henry IV, Part One. Other directing credits include: Sense and Sensibility (Theatre By The Lake); The Tempest (Winchester Theatre Royal); The Devil at Coventry, Alien Invasion, Five Princes and a Wedding and View  (Belgrade Theatre); The Legend of Perseus, The Night Before Christmas and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Big Wooden Horse). As Artistic Director of CFTC, she directed national tours of A Doll’s House and The Pastoral Symphony. Juliet has also written numerous plays and adaptations.