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Unity Theatre is staging a world premiere production as part of its Eurovision celebrations

1 year ago

Unity Theatre is staging a world premiere production as part of its Eurovision celebrations
Credit: Luke Bryant

Next week, to celebrate Eurovision, Unity Theatre on Hope Place will instead become A Place of Hope – a hub for Ukrainian creativity featuring world-premiere theatre, special events and exhibitions.

Created in partnership with award-winning Ukrainian theatre makers Yurii Radionov and Shorena Shoniia, this jam-packed Unity Theatre programme runs from Tue 2 – Fri 12 May and celebrates a whole host of incredible Ukrainian artists who will share their stories and talent with the people of Liverpool.

A Place of Hope has been commissioned by Culture Liverpool for the Eurovision Cultural Festival 2023 and features the world-premiere of Yurii Radionov and Shorena Shoniia’s new production Maria.

Unity Theatre
Credit: Luke Bryant

Premiering to mark the 90th anniversary of Holodomor, Maria is a powerful new theatre retelling of Ulas Samchuk’s 1934 novel, which follows the life of a young woman through the history of Ukrainian upheaval.

Performed by a cast of seven Ukrainian refugee actors currently living in the UK as a result of the war, Maria combines traditional Ukrainian folk music with contemporary dance and innovative theatre. With set and costumes by celebrated designer Juliya Zaulychna, and props and instruments driven from Ukraine especially for this new production, Maria tells the forgotten story of ordinary Ukrainians who were caught up in the tragedy of Holodomor – which resulted in the death of 6-8 million – and showcases human resilience in unimaginable hardship.

Unity Theatre
Credit: Luke Bryant

Director and writer Yurii Radionov says:

“Theatre has always been a powerful medium for storytelling, and one such story that is currently making waves in Ukraine is the Holodomor. This man-made famine, which occurred in 1932-33, resulted in the death of millions of Ukrainians due to Stalin’s policies. Maria brings the survivors’ stories to life on stage in an innovative new theatre production.

This show brings to light not only the horrors of Holodomor but also sheds light on how such events impact individuals and communities at large. By creating empathy among audiences worldwide, it serves as a reminder that we must never forget our past mistakes so that we can prevent them from happening again in the future. In essence, Maria is both educational and thought-provoking while providing entertainment for Liverpool audiences looking for something new and exciting.”

Maria premieres on Tue 9 May – Thu 12 May. Tickets are free as part of EuroFestival.

On Wed 10 May the cast will be joined by a panel of special guests to discuss Ukrainian theatre, Eurovision in Liverpool and the themes presented in Maria. The panel includes David Morrisey (actor, filmmaker, and patron of Unity), Olga Lyubarova (Ukrainian Casting Director and Casting Assistant at National Theatre, London), Dr Olga Onuch (Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester) and Dr Olesya Khromeychuk (Historian, Writer, Theatre maker, and Director of the Ukrainian Institute London).

Unity Theatre
Credit: Luke Bryant

Maria is part of a wider programme of free events at Unity throughout May, all created and performed by Ukrainian artists. A Place of Hope also includes Yurii Radionov and Shorena Shoniia’s highly acclaimed theatre production UKRLAND: Stories from Ukraine (Tue 2 – Thu 4 May), arriving in Liverpool following a sold-out UK tour. Audiences can also enjoy an evening of Ukrainian poetry (Fri 5 May) as well as the chance for UK and Ukraine creatives to come together for a networking event. Throughout the two weeks visitors to Unity can also experience Ukraine Creates (Fri 5 – Fri 12 May) – an interactive exhibition in the Unity Bar featuring stories from Ukrainian creatives including musicians, make-up artists, performers and more.

The gallery walls also feature work by Open Eye Gallery who present an extended exhibition from Kyiv photographer Anton Shebetko on the queer history of Ukraine, to compliment walking trail series HOME, situated in the Unity entrance (Tue 2 – Fri 12 May). Finally, guests will have the opportunity to come together for Hope Table – a unique dining experience building community and exchanging cultures (Wed 10 May).

For more information about A Place of Hope – commissioned by Unity Theatre and Culture Liverpool as part the Eurovision Cultural Festival 2023 – click here.

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