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Unity Theatre make their Eurovision-inspired Ukrainian Arts Festival available to watch online for free

12 months ago

Unity Theatre make their Eurovision-inspired Ukrainian Arts Festival available to watch online for free

For Refugee Week 2023, Unity is continuing the legacy of Eurovision and Liverpool’s relationship with Ukraine by presenting an online version of their acclaimed Ukrainian arts festival programme A Place of Hope – featuring world-premiere theatre and special events created by Ukrainian refugee artists living in the UK.

Commissioned by Culture Liverpool for EuroFestival and developed by award-winning Ukrainian theatre makers Yurii Radionov and Shorena Shoniia, A Place of Hope Online by Unity Theatre features four filmed productions and events that audiences across the globe can watch for free throughout Refugee Week.

The online programme includes the digital premiere of Yurii and Shorena’s critically acclaimed play UKRLAND and the highly-anticipated, world-premiere production of Maria (as featured on BBC Newsnight, BBC World, and the subject of BBC Documentary Playing for Ukraine).

Mariawhich opened to sold-out audiences at Unity last month as part of the city’s Eurovision Cultural Festival, has been created by a cast of seven Ukrainian refugee actors currently living in the UK because of the war. The brand-new show, created especially for EuroFestival, combines traditional Ukrainian folk music with contemporary dance, lighting, and innovative theatre to tell the forgotten story of ordinary Ukrainians who were caught up in the tragedy of Holodomor.

The first ever show to be made entirely by Ukrainians in the UK, Maria had its highly anticipated stage premiere as part of A Place of Hope and will now be available to watch internationally as part of Refugee Week, to meet unprecedented global demand following the in-venue run and airing of the documentary.

The digital version of A Place of Hope will also include two bonus features. As well as the two productions, audiences can enjoy a moving collection of Ukrainian Poetry and Music performed live by the cast of Mariaor dive deeper into the history of Holdomor and life as a Ukrainian performer with an hour-long In Conversation Event featuring the cast of Maria, actor David Morrisey and other special guests.

All four films will be available with both English and Ukrainian subtitles and can be watched at a Pay What You Can rate. Unity recommend a donation of £8 per film, with all proceeds split evenly between charities helping Ukrainian civilians affected by war and to support Unity in continuing to create and tell powerful stories like those of Ukrainian refugee artists.

Gordon Millar, Artistic Director and CEO of Unity says:

We’re delighted to be able to share our EuroFestival Ukrainian arts programme ‘A Place of Hope’ with global audiences and mark Refugee Week 2023 in such a profound and impactful way. Since the programme closed at Unity last month following sold-out audiences and critical-acclaim, we’ve been overwhelmed by requests from all over the world to make the films available online so that more people can educate themselves on the history of Ukraine and the impact of the on-going war on Ukrainians.

This announcement today, that we are making all shows available to watch for free to continue our relationship with Ukrainian theatre, couldn’t be timelier as the UK House of Commons just last month voted in favour of recognising Holodomor – the subject of Maria – as an act of genocide against the country’s people.

We’re incredibly grateful to Yurii Radionov, Shorena Shoniia and the seven Ukrainian refugee actors who created this exceptional programme of theatre and performance for Liverpool, and we’re thrilled more people will be able to witness such essential, innovative storytelling. It is a wonderful legacy of the powerful cultural programme pulled together for Eurovision by Culture Liverpool.”

Unity Theatre - Ukrland - Eurovision
Credit: Lancaster Arts

Director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan, said:

“A Place of Hope was a powerful EuroFestival commission and we’re so pleased it’s getting a second lease of life online.

When Liverpool was named Eurovision Host City 2023, we were clear in our ambition that Ukraine would be the thread that ran through the programme. The Unity Theatre projects delivered on this and more, becoming a hub of Ukrainian culture for two weeks with moving, engaging and thought-provoking works. It’s great that a wider audience will now be able to appreciate these impactful and considered pieces.”  

Find out more about A Place of Hope on the Unity Theatre website here.

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