'World-Wide Ukrainian Play Readings' Initiative Comes To Lehigh Valley

The audience is invited to stay after the performance for conversation and refreshments. 

By: May. 19, 2022

Valley artists and the local Ukrainian community will present an evening of' theater, film, and dance in solidarity with the people of Ukraine Saturday, June 4 on the campus of Moravian University (1200 Main Street, Bethlehem). Curtain rises at 7:00pm in Prosser Auditorium located in Moravian's Haupert Union Building. The audience is invited to stay after the performance for conversation and refreshments.

"World-Wide Ukrainian Play Readings" is a global initiative to commission new plays by Ukrainian writers besieged by the assault on their homes, language, and culture. Fundraising for humanitarian relief for Ukraine is an essential element of the program. In lieu of royalties and ticket sales, audiences and supporters will be encouraged to contribute to organizations in Ukraine who are providing essential emergency resources to the millions displaced by the ravages of this war. Lehigh Valley organizers request that contributions be sent to the Voices of Children Foundation, a Ukrainian charity dedicated to providing emergency psychological assistance and emergency evacuation services to provide safe shelter and creative activities to rescue children from the trauma of war. Donate to Voices of Children: https://voices.org.ua/en/donat/

"World-Wide Ukrainian Play Readings: Lehigh Valley" will feature: a staged reading of A Dictionary of Emotions in War Time by Yelena Astasyeva (Totem Center Theater Lab); a short film created from the play Peace and Tranquility by Andrii Bondarenko (play commissioned by Sputnik Theatre Company in London); and a performance of traditional folk dances by KAZKA Ukrainian Folk Ensemble.

A Dictionary of Emotions in War Time is directed by professional theatre artist, Randall Forte, a veteran advocate of the arts, now leading efforts in the region to raise awareness about the plight of millions of Ukrainians displaced by the war. "The arts offer a powerful way to engage." Forte says. "This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with our community and help our neighbors tell their story. As a result, we have been able to build a network of local support in a relatively short time."

Peace and Tranquility will be presented as a film created by Christopher Shorr, head of Moravian University's theatre program and co-director of Moravian's InFocus Center for War, Peacebuilding the Just Society. "Moravian is pleased to host this event," he stated. "It is an opportunity to support a great cause, and to explore critical issues facing our world."

The performance by KAZKA Ukrainian Folk Ensemble will be directed by Paula Holoviak of the Ukrainian Homestead in Lehighton. The greater Lehigh Valley is home to one of the largest American Ukrainian communities in the country, families having settled in the coal regions of Carbon, Schuylkill, Lehigh, and Luzerne counties.

Bethlehem's Touchstone Theatre is partnering on the project, with three of its company members-Bill George, Emma Ackerman and Christopher Shorr-involved with the Peace and Tranquility film.

The World-Wide Ukrainian Readings initiative is the inspiration of American journalist, translator, and theatre critic John Freedman now living in Greece. Partners include Maksym Kurochkin at Kyiv's Theater of Playwrights, Noah Birksted-Breen at London's Sputnik Theatre, and Philip Arnoult at Baltimore's Center for International Theater Development. About the new plays, Arnoult stated "Here we have the first draft of history seen through the eye of the artist." Shared with a network of professional theatre artists and cultural organizations around the world, as of May 4, participants from 18 countries had pledged 128 readings/events of 68 plays.