Ukrainian directors “Take the Stage” at the British Council Theatre Competition

Culture, Ukraine

This year’s “Taking the Stage” theatre competition has wrapped up in Kyiv. 12 Ukrainian directors, selected as finalists after an open-call that occurred earlier this year, staged sketches of British dramas. This is the third year straight that the British Council of Ukraine has hosted this program.

For director Rosa Sarkisian, it’s her first experiment with British drama. She has long dreamed of staging a play based on the work of English playright Sarah Kane. Sarkisian was finally able to obtain the legal right to do so by taking part in this competition.

“It was interesting to submerge myself into a behavioral model, in what happens to a person who begins to experience this kind of psychosis. He cannot leave, and wonders if there is an exit at all,” says Sarkisian.

Three winning directors were chosen from the sketches. Unlike previous years, there were no restrictions on the subject.The only requirement was that they had to use a play written by a British playwright. Tamara Trunova, a winner of last year’s “Taking the Stage” competition, served this year on the panel of judges. She admits that it’s very difficult to evaluate the performances. She thinks that her victory in last year’s competition allowed her to develop a new approach to musical theater.

“In Ukraine, unlike other European states, dramatic directing in opera is very rarely practiced. In general, it is a trend in the whole world and I am very happy that I’m carving out a new direction,” says Trunova.

The competition’s main goal is to support young theater directors. This year’s winners received a 30,000 UAH grant — around $1000 US dollars — in order to stage a full version of the selected play, as well as media support for the premiere. Directors from Great Britain, who were also present at the competition, are to serve as mentors for these future performances, but they also have something to learn from their Ukrainian counterparts.

“We know from talking with British theaters who were taking part in the program before, that it’s facinating for them, and amazing experience for them to work with Ukrainian theaters here, who come from a very different tradition. Some things are the same, some things are different,” shared his thoughts Simon Williams, Director of British Council Ukraine.

The three winners of the contest will act out full versions of their selected plays in Ukrainian theaters next spring.

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