Performing in Donbas is like working in the open air, it is a whole new level of communication – Serhiy Zhadan


Kyiv, March 9, 2016. “Performing in Donbas these days is like working in the open air. You react to literally each and every change in the outer space, to each change in the air: the sun comes out or goes away, the rain starts, the temperature changes. You feel it clearly and immediately affecting yourself. It is not like working in a closed environment, it is a whole new level of communication,” said Serhiy Zhadan, poet, participant of “Rozdilovi” project [‘punctuation marks’ in Ukrainian – UCMC note] speaking at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The artists have toured the six cities of eastern and southern Ukraine with the project including Berdyansk, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, Sloviansk, Severodonetsk and Bakhmut. According to Zhadan, performance for the audience in eastern Ukraine is much more sincere, open and even challenging. That’s why it is of higher demand both for artists and the audience.

The poet said that prior to presenting “Rozdilovi” project in Donbas they had doubts if the public would be able to perceive it as it is not a mass cultural event. However it turned out that these days in Donbas cultural audience is being formed, the audience that has been formed in peaceful cities long before. According to Zhadan’s observations earlier when the combat actions were starting in the east people from the frontline cities were attending such artistic events to hear Ukrainian language or express their pro-Ukrainian position. “Today people are coming to hear and to see. They come realizing what they are going to see. These are not only gatherings of pro-Ukrainian activists. It is indeed a process when audience is formed, it is extremely interesting,” emphasized Zhadan. According to him this process is very important and needs be supported. It is not over yet, “it has not been crystallized and it may turn any direction at any time.” Instead if this process is brought to its logical end it may bring a positive result, the artist is convinced.  

In the beginning the project was named “Rozdilovi znaky” (eng. – punctuation marks), over the time the notion expanded “as these are not only marks but also the lines that mark time, space and other notions in our life,” explained Myroslava Hanyushkina, director of “Artpole” agency. “Punctuation marks add emotions to our words,” she emphasized. And this project is exactly about emotions. It is centered around the five key words of the project that come from Zhadan’s texts that were chosen for the project: night, tenderness, war, love and nothingness. Myroslava Hanyushkina said that the project started back in 2012. At first it united music and poetry. Serhiy Zhadan’s collection of poetry entitled “Vohnepalni i nozhovi” (eng. – fire and stab wounds) became the starting point. Stage director Olha Mykhailyuk decided to combine the music with visualization. Over the time the project was changing, new people were engaging in it. Unchanged team members remained Serhiy Zhadan – the “voice of the project”, composer Oleksiy Vorsoba and stage director Olha Mykhailyuk.

The project’s visual content also changed each time. On March 9 Kyiv will see the third version of “Rozdilovi”, said Hanyushkina. Zhadan noted that three new pieces will be presented. “Following our trip to the Sea of Azov, I produced new texts, musicians recorded new music and we will try to show it today,” announced the poet. Next cities to see the project will be Kharkiv, Odesa and Chonhar, stated the authors.