Uzhhorod – Half a year ago, on March 16, a Russian plane dropped an aerial bomb on the building of the Mariupol Drama Theater. Despite the fact that “CHILDREN” was written on the ground in Russian. At that time, more than a thousand people were hiding in the premises of the theater, which was used as a bomb shelter. How many people died from the airstrike – it is certain unknown After the tragedy, the Mariupol City Council announced that more than 300 people had died. They call the number of killed and twice as much. Theater workers ended up in Uzhgorod, in European countries, but many remained to work in Mariupol as part of the already Russian theater.
A small group of artists who left Mariupol performs on stage Transcarpathian regional music and drama theater. On September 16, the premiere of the play “Mariupol Drama” took place here.
actress Olena Bila on stage with her husband, also an actor Igor Kitrysh and their ten-year-old son Matthew. No one will have to add any drama to the role, artistry. The family on stage will experience what they had to experience in Mariupol.
The three of them came to the theater when they learned that on March 5 there will be a green corridor through which Mariupol residents will be evacuated. They took the most necessary things with them.
There were a lot of people: 600 at first, and then more than 1,200
“There were a lot of people: at first 600, and then more than 1,200. After all, we made a list. It seemed that we would come to our home, to the building where we were every day, and there were already people in the dressing rooms. We occupied the husband’s dressing room, but it was impossible to sleep there. They changed into a suit. They slept on the floor.
We brought food there, a pot, so that we could cook food. The volunteers helped a lot. They had a field kitchen. On the morning of March 15, we left and were able to find fuel: a can cost 6 thousand hryvnias. It took 9 hours to reach Berdyansk, under constant fire. Near Vasylivka, they already thought that we would die there. I really wanted to live,” says Olena Bila, who worked at the Mariupol Theater for 19 years.
The family repaired the apartment, but did not have time to live there. The occupier came, the apartment was completely destroyed.
“A Russian theater on bones was created in Mariupol”
Out of 210 employees of the theater, which was the number before the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia, 14 moved to Uzhgorod. Two plays were already staged in the Transcarpathian Theater. “Mariupol drama” is, rather, a creative story about what happened, a testimony about Russia’s war crime. The actors say that it is better to share that experience than to suffer inside.
They, like most townspeople, called the theater “Mariupol Drama”, hence the name of the play. It was a favorite meeting place of the townspeople. The play was written by a writer Oleksandr Gavrosh, who recorded detailed memories of each actor. And the director-supplier is an artist Evgeny Tyshchuk.
The theater that was, is gone and will never be
“The theater that was there is gone and will never be. The theater is dead, long live the theater. Now, for the first time in the history of the Donetsk theater, we have the opportunity to revive the Ukrainian Donetsk theater, which never existed. Only Ukrainian is spoken here, our theater speaks Ukrainian. And in Mariupol, the repertoire consisted mainly of Russian-language performances. When I came to work there, they already staged two plays in the Ukrainian language.
A small part of the team came to Uzhhorod. But the main thing is that the patriots came. Some of the actors who have moved to different places are already asking us. A lot of people stayed in Mariupol and created the Republican Russian Drama Theater, in fact, they opened the season in the cemetery, on the bones of people. They used to wear vyshyvankas, now they put on kosovorots. The theater in Mariupol was not Ukrainian. We are making it like that now,” he says Lyudmila Kolosovychacting director-artistic director of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater (this is the name of the theater from Mariupol).
Actors are worried that their work will be understood by the audience. In order not to regret, but simply to know how to act in such a difficult situation, during a brutal war.
This play is about finding a way out
“We have already experienced this and know the way out of the situation. This performance is about how to find a way out, master yourself, with the ability not to panic, to rally. We stayed in our profession, it is important for our psychological health. Because we can direct new feelings from the tragedy that we acquired, invest them in further roles,” says Olena Bila.
Elena and her family were lucky to leave Mariupol the day before the tragedy in the drama theater. And her theater colleague Dmytro Murantsev at that very moment he was with a girl in the bomb shelter of the theater. He says that there was an impact and dust filled the basement.
If you die, then quickly and not suffer
“My girlfriend and I wanted to die quickly and not suffer. We ran outside. And there is no building where children were walking. Panic.
People were running and shouting. Voices and pleas for help could be heard from under the rubble. I saw how the child was bleeding from the head. I will never forget it. People threw themselves under cars to get out of there. Because the plane continued to hang in the air, continued to fly. Apparently, he admired his crime.
We were in a complete stupor and instinctively ran from there. We ran until the bus stopped and picked us up to the track. Then they went on foot from one village to another. We ended up in Mangush. And we have beds for sleeping. From there we went to Berdyansk and there we started thinking about how to leave Ukraine. After all, I have a Donetsk registration. I understood that at the first checkpoint I would be taken away and mobilized. I had to destroy my passport, but I had a foreign, student passport. It said that I was a college student in Mariupol. He used all his acting skills to pass the roadblock,” says Dmytro Murantsev.
He spent 11 days in the bomb shelter of the theater. The young actor remembers this every day. It is simply impossible to get rid of these memories. He will talk about himself in the play.
“You don’t need to play anything. But it is very difficult to talk about it. I always have questions, why did I survive then, and almost 600 people died?” – emphasizes Dmytro.
With “Mariupol Drama”, the actors will not tour often. Because emotionally it is difficult for them to convey their memories from the stage. But they decided to record a video of this performance, which will become another testimony of eyewitnesses about Russia’s war crimes in Mariupol.