Whether you’re passionate about the arts or simply looking for something to do in the penultimate week of summer, head to Bouquet Kyiv Stage for some inspiration.
The first half of 2020 was a real test of Kyiv’s resilience and patience. This summer, however, most of us are tentatively rediscovering the things that made us happy pre-quarantine. The capital’s multifaceted culture scene has been particularly quick to adapt to the ‘new normal’. Among the pioneers is Bouquet Kyiv Stage, an innovative arts festival established in 2018, with a focus on Ukrainian artists.
City of Masters
Bouquet Kyiv Stage takes place in the heart of the city, in the grounds of Sofiivskyi Cathedral. In the August heat, Sofiia Kyivska Garden is a haven of greenery and tranquillity. There are 40 events in the programme, including theatre, music, exhibitions, a poetry marathon, and talks under the 100-year-old ash tree. Every year the festival has a different theme; this year’s is ‘City of Masters’.
The Master’s Voice
“These days, pure information is of interest to no one,” says the festival’s music consultant, Liubov Morozova. “What we need is an individual, a personality, a voice. We’re always looking for our very own Virgil. That voice – the Master’s voice – is what we follow…” The musical programme includes never-before-heard pieces by the greatest Ukrainian symphony composer, Borys Liatoshynskyi, as well as masterpieces of film music by Vadym Khrapachov.
Voices of the City
Many of the festival’s events explore the interplay between cities and creativity: how do cities influence the writer’s craft, or inspire artists to create? Guests can expect to discover how the voice of a city can reveal itself in a work of fiction, in discussions with prominent Ukrainian writers such as Kateryna Kalitko, Artem Chekh, Serhii Zhadan, Svitlana Taratorina, and Sofia Andrukhovych. Translators too can capture the spirit of a city in their work: find out more with acclaimed translators Mark Bielorusts and Iaroslava Strikha.
The Spirit of Kyiv
For fans of classic literature, there is ‘Mykhailo Bulhakov’s Alma Mater’, an exhibition organised by the Bulhakov Museum. Focusing on the author’s relationship with Kyiv, it shows how a city can become an integral element of an author’s creative world. “Bulhakov left Kyiv at the age of 28,” says curator Liudmyla Hubianuri. “Kyiv was where he started writing. It was where he spent his formative years, and where he developed his tastes in literature, theatre, and music. Kyiv is a part of his fictional world. And his whole life, he would keep on revisiting the Kyiv he knew, and the city’s particular atmosphere.”
This year, due to social distancing measures, it’s more important than ever to plan your visit and book your seats in advance. When you check out the schedule, make sure you also take note of the new rules (including some seating restrictions and the compulsory use of masks). Be safe and stick to them: by doing so, you’re also protecting fellow visitors, performers, and festival staff.
Life goes on
“Right now we don’t really understand what’s ahead,” says the festival’s co-founder, Yevhenii Utkin. “All we know is that life goes on. And it’s up to us what kind of life it will be. We want this life to be beautiful. That’s why we’re hosting Bouquet Kyiv Stage.”
Let this festival remind you that life goes on. And wherever there is life, there is art.
Bouquet Kyiv Stage
20 – 25 August
Sofiia Kyivska Garden (Volodymyrska 24)
Photo credit Vitaliy Mariash