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WATCH: A powerful new Ukrainian production is on now at Unity Theatre as part of ‘A Place of Hope’

12 months ago


Unity Theatre is staging the world premiere of a powerful new production telling the story of the incredible resilience and strength of the people of Ukraine.

Maria is set against one of the darkest times in the country’s history – not the current conflict, but the Holodomor which claimed the lives of millions in the early 1930s.

Holodomor, which translates as death by hunger, was a devastating famine caused by the policies of Stalin.

Maria brings to life survivors’ stories, and the human spirit shown by those who suffered so terribly but refused to be beaten.

Unity Theatre

The play is being staged at Unity as part of A Place of Hope, which runs from May 2 to 11 to coincide with Liverpool’s hosting of Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine.

A Place of Hope is a two-week free programme of performance, activities and exhibitions celebrating the lives and talent of Ukrainian artists.

Maria is a poignant retelling of Ulas Samchuk’s 1934 novel centred on the life of a young woman during the upheaval, created by award-winning Ukrainian theatre makers Yurii Radionov and Shorena Shoniia.

Yurii says the innovative play shines a spotlight on a period of Ukraine’s history which is deeply felt today.

He explains: “The history of Holodomor is a devastating tale that explores the genocide in Ukraine. It’s a story about the government-induced famine that killed millions of people, men, women, and children. This tragedy left an indelible mark on Ukrainian society, and it continues to be remembered as one of the most horrific events in human history.

Unity Theatre
Credit: Luke Bryant

“At its core, Holodomor was not just about food shortages or crop failures; it was a calculated attempt by Soviet authorities to eliminate Ukrainian nationalism and independence. By withholding food supplies from rural areas and forcibly confiscating grain from farmers, Stalin’s regime aimed at crushing any resistance against Moscow’s rule.

“And yet amidst all this pain and suffering emerged stories of resilience and strength. Ukrainians banded together to help each other survive despite unimaginable odds. Families shared what little they had with strangers; communities rallied around those who were hurting the most.”

Performed by a cast of seven Ukrainian refugee actors currently living in the UK as a result of the war, Maria marks the 90th anniversary of Holodomor.

It combines traditional Ukrainian folk music with contemporary dance moves to create a unique experience for the audience.

Unity Theatre

Yuril says Maria serves as a reminder that we must never forget past mistakes to prevent them from happening again in the future.

“Through its vivid portrayal of Ukrainian culture, language, and traditions, the performance captures the resilience and strength of a people who have survived countless struggles throughout their history.

“Just as actors bring characters to life on stage, so too does this production breathe new life into a forgotten story, making it relevant once again.”

Maria has its world premiere at Unity Theatre from May 9-11, 7.30pm with a 2.30pm matinee on May 11. It’s free, but tickets should be booked in advance – visit the Unity Theatre website here.



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