Following a year’s sabbatical, the British Council piloted a re-formatted programme Taking the Stage 2.0, working together with the international inter-disciplinary arts festival GOGOLFEST. The objective of programme remained unchanged from that of its original incarnation: to foster lively cultural exchange between the British and Ukrainian theatre professionals.
In 2019 Taking the Stage 2.0 was shaped by a series of theatre residencies designed to join the forces of five progressive Ukrainian theatrical companies with the leading lights of a new generation of British stage directorial talent. This close collaboration promised to deliver greater international theatrical exposure for both sides, encouraging further cultural and professional exchange and development certain to enrich both traditions.
The British Council Arts Team developed the programme with extensive input from the team at GOGOLFEST and with support from the five participating Ukrainian theatres: National Academic Drama Theatre – Ivano-Frankivsk, Neft Theatre & Parade-Fest – Kharkiv, Theatre on the Left Bank – Kyiv, Theatromania – Mariupol, Dakh Centre for Contemporary Art – Kyiv.
Between 2015-2018, the Taking the Stage programme worked to identify Ukrainian theatres and directors ready to test the boundaries of traditional theatre. The programme assisted them in putting their talent to work in the production of original, professionally produced and socially relevant performances on the Ukrainian stage guided by leading theatre practitioners from Great Britain. As a result, over these four years, we have seen:
- 13 new productions staged in theatres across Ukraine—from Severodonetsk in the far east to Lviv in the west. Following the programme’s completion, six of these productions were subsequently included in the standing repertoire at Ukrainian theatres.
- More than a dozen translations of plays by contemporary British playwrights added to the Ukrainian language canon and providing Ukrainian directors with their first opportunity to produce the work of authors like Martin Mcdonough, Caryl Churchill, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, David Harrower, Duncan Macmillan and Nick Payne.
- Mentoring efforts by British and Ukrainian directors working shoulder-to-shoulder with emerging Ukrainian directors has spawned new friendships, while exposing the British theatre professionals to the Ukrainian theatre and providing the Ukrainians with the chance to visit British theatres and take part in the IETM Conference at Kingston upon Hull, England.
- Productions and annual pitching events attracting a total audience of more than 20,000 over the programme’s four-year run.