Inspired by personal accounts from war-torn Ukraine in 1944 and true stories from the country’s current conflict, Blood of our Soil is the newest creation of Canadian writer/actress Lianna Makuch. She brings her play to Kyiv this month for a staged reading at the Les Kurbas Centre. It is timely, considering the 5-year anniversary of Maidan is just around the corner.
Hania is a Ukrainian-Canadian woman encouraged by her baba to travel to Ukraine and seek out a missing piece of their family’s history. She is unprepared for the truths and harsh realities of the past and present, however, as a life so much unlike her own begins to surface.
Based on a true accounts, Makuch says the idea for Blood of our Soil came after discovering her baba’s detailed journal chronicling her emigration from Ukraine during World War II. Looking for ways to bring this story to the stage, it wasn’t until news reports of the Revolution of Dignity started appearing on local television that things really started to progress.
Now in its third iteration, Makuch and her team have brought the play to Kyiv this month to continue development with Kyiv-based Дикий Театр (Wild Theatre). It incorporates not only her baba’s sentiments, but also the perspectives of over 40 people that she interviewed on a three-week research trip to Ukraine, including the Donbas region, in October 2017.
“One of the veterans we interviewed said that as theatre artists writing this play we are like soldiers ourselves fighting this war the way that we can,” says Makuch. “I am always shocked at how the global community remain seemingly unaware that a war is even occurring in eastern Ukraine.”
Makuch says main character Hania is representative of the general naivety of the North American population when it comes to the politics of the current situation. “I hope to craft a balanced narrative that offers an honest representation of the complex circumstances in Ukraine for [global] audiences to learn about the war…and leave with a new-found understanding of the Ukrainian culture,” says Makuch honestly.
Commissioning Ukrainian actors to take on the local cast, Makuch says there is a wonderful energy and thoughtfulness amongst the Ukrainian people: “There is a passionate magical disposition amongst the people here,” which makes it “difficult to witness the deep frustration and grief. But born of this frustration is a steadfast hope.” It is this hope Makuch, through Hania, will bring to the stage this October.
17 October at 20.00
Les Kurbas Centre (Volodymyrska 23b)