Artistic Director of the Kyiv Youth Theater Slava Zhyla: It is impossible to raise children in all Russian, it gives rise to wrong things

Artistic Director of the Kyiv Youth Theater Slava Zhyla: It is impossible to raise children in all Russian, it gives rise to wrong things

In mid-May, the team of the Kyiv Theater for Young Spectators gathered for the first time in their families walls. In the small hall, in the scenery of the play “My name is Peter”, which became the last pre-war premiere, in the scenery of a past life. And they decided that they would play, because they can no longer play.

We talked with the director and artistic director of the Youth Theater, director and producer of the enterprise Slava Zhyla about the work of theaters during the war.

There is not enough money even for salaries

– Slava, I saw the announcements, which means that the theater is gradually coming to life. How are things?

– It comes to life, although, in fact, it survives. The budgeting of Kyiv theaters has decreased by more than 50 percent. Not even enough for a salary.

However, work has already begun on a new performance directed by Valeria Fedotova, who staged Gogol's Overcoat and Virodka at the Odessa Theater named after I. Vasilko. Now she is doing a play “Bless the Animals and Children” based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout. The production designer is Yuri Illarionov from the Theater on the Left Bank, the composer is Yuri Boyko from the Theater on Podol.

This (Russian) culture turned out to be powerless. These authors failed to bring up a decent, normal, adequate, European, civilized society.

Young people are involved here – our actors of the Theater for Young Spectators and guest actors. So we are working. I think we will play the premiere in July or August. I hope so.

– But even now you are already playing something.

– We will play our repertoire performances. We open on June 19 with the play “Dogoridrig”. The next one will be “You Special” – June 26. This is the schedule for June. We will form a new one for July.

– You met with your team for the first time since the beginning of the war in mid-May. What was this long-awaited meeting like?

“She was rather unusual. You may know that we suffered losses – our Mariyka Demochko left us for other worlds, she was one of the leading actresses of the Youth Theater. This is a big loss for our team. Therefore, our meeting began with a moment of silence. They said if everything was fine with everyone, if everyone was alive, if everyone was in good health. Part of our Youth Theater at the front is our director Artur Artimeniyev, actor Andrey Ivanyuk, head of the assembly shop Ilya Budarin, carpenter, security guard. We always look forward to hearing from them.

And when we already met in early June, we talked about plans for the future, about planned performances. We want to stage “Tsar Plaksiy and Loskoton” after Vasily Simonenko, “Fabovaniy Lis” after Ivan Franko. Perhaps there will be “Don Quixote”, and perhaps “The Witch of Konotop”. Now we are negotiating with directors. Maybe we can agree, because there are actually no budgets, but we are trying to work somehow.

Artistic Director of the Kyiv Youth Theater Slava Zhyla: It is impossible to raise children in all Russian, it gives rise to wrong things

The play Call Me Peter was the last pre-war premiere at the Theater for Young Spectators. Currently, the actors are preparing a new performance “Bless the animals and children.” Photo:

Russian authors failed to bring up a decent, civilized society

– Rejection of everything Russian, and especially the language and culture, is now a priority. Will it be like this in theaters too?

– Oh sure! My Ukrainian-language vector was determined a long time ago, when I was still working at the Actor Theater. We have decided not to stage performances in Russian anymore. My performance “The Cherry Orchard” by Chekhov is closed. And until a certain period of time passes, until, perhaps, there is no need for this, we will not resume this performance. Of course, this is a political story, and as we see, the theater cannot be outside of politics. And this is very important, I think. Therefore, we refuse all Russian authors and even classics. Not yet relevant.

As for the language, there is nothing to say. We will communicate and play in Ukrainian. And at a meeting of our troupe, I asked everyone to switch to the theater in Ukrainian.

– And how?

– I think this is a normal story. There is nothing unusual here. We are a children's Ukrainian-language theater, and it probably cannot be otherwise.

– Why, in your opinion, is there no place for Russian culture in our country? Because someone, for example, does not understand what Chekhov is to blame for?

– Firstly, this culture was powerless. These authors failed to bring up a worthy, normal, adequate, European, civilized society.

I dream of staging Kotlyarevsky's “Aeneid”. It will be a story about modern Ukraine, which is becoming our legendary army.

And since, in my opinion, maximum de-communization and de-Russification have not passed in our country, therefore, now it is worth simply abandoning them and forgetting them. Now it is impossible to raise children in all Russian, because this gives rise to certain wrong things. Such that we could see during the military Russian aggression.

Of course, a lot also depends on society, not only on the affairs of the state or its leadership.

But if the inhabitants of Russia could not organize themselves into a civil society – these are their problems. Accordingly, the problems of their authors, their artists who created this culture.

We used to cooperate very closely and brought Russian theaters to Ukraine, but now they come to the occupied territories, play their performances there, so this, in my opinion, is already part of the ideology. And due to the fact that this is part of the ideology of the enemy country, this is not the time to play Russian authors, because it does not fit into our life at all.

Well, it’s just that everything Russian is not the place now.

< p>– What do you personally want to bet? Which views will be relevant?

– In the near future, which is logical, I will focus on children's content, on dialogue with children, because now they need maximum attention. I also dream of staging Kotlyarevsky's Aeneida. There is something elusive, Ukrainian in it. I'm already working on this project. It will be a story about modern Ukraine, which is becoming, about our legendary army.

Artistic Director of the Kyiv Youth Theater Slava Zhyla: It is impossible to raise children in all Russian, it gives rise to wrong things

Slava Zhyla dreams of staging Kotlyarevsky's “Aeneida” and is already working on this project. Photo:

In order for the troupe to feel comfortable and in shape, competition is needed

– You have already said that some of your employees have gone to the front. I think some of them left – those who have children. Did you find a replacement for them?

– In general, I think that in order for the troupe to feel comfortable and be in shape, competition is needed. We have a core cast, and periodically we invite other actors from other theatres. For example, in the performances “My name is Peter” by David Petrosyan, “Legends of Bakhchisarai” by Akhtem Seitabaev, the English-language The City Was There, Alex Borovensky was played by actors from different theaters, not only from the Youth Theater. Therefore, such a collaboration with young people and other schools is very necessary for the troupe, it allows us to understand a different theatrical microflora.

– Is touring now possible?

– There are almost no tours in Ukraine. There are some theaters that travel abroad, but this is more about festivals and charity events. But it is possible, and I hope that this process will resume in the near future.

– You are from Chernigov, we know what this city has experienced. How is the situation there?

– I was born in Chernihiv, but spent my childhood in Ternopil. Contacted with Andrey Bakirov, artistic director of the Chernihiv Theater named after. Shevchenko. There is a very difficult situation. And how to proceed further, how to improve the situation – I don’t even have any thoughts on this topic. This is a question for the Ministry of Culture, for local departments of culture.

– What should the state do to support our culture at this time?

– First of all, support and dialogue are needed for it to improve between theaters, cultural institutions and authorities. So far, the authorities are not up to it, and this is understandable, because hostilities are going on. The issue of evacuation of theaters, museums, and other cultural institutions is still relevant.

A lot of our actors, actresses, directors went abroad. And if the state rallied them there, it would be very cool.

A lot of our actors, actresses, directors went abroad. And if the state rallied them there, it would be very cool. If we set such a goal, I think the cultural centers of Europe could accept our theaters. The state should assume the function of the manager of this process.

And of course, do not cut budgetary funds. After all, there is not enough money even to cover salaries, which are already small. 60% cut off from budgeting. In addition, there is not yet such a flow of spectators as before the war and will not be in the near future, which means that ticket sales are quite small. But if the theaters stop functioning, the actors stop playing, then it will be very difficult to restore everything.

– But people go, I passed the theater, I saw the queues.

– Oh sure. However, this is not at all what it was before the war. We will be very happy and grateful to those who support us, and, in fact, themselves and their children – after all, of course, the theater has the magical power to heal.

Artistic Director of the Kyiv Youth Theater Slava Zhyla: It is impossible to raise children in all Russian, this gives rise to the wrong things

Some of the actors of the Youth Theater at the front, someone volunteers, but the theater actor Yevgeny Suprun, known among children as the Hatter, entertained the kids hiding from the explosions in the Kiev metro. Photo:

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