COUNTING SHEEP to Headline VAULT Festival 2019

COUNTING SHEEP to Headline VAULT Festival 2019

Counting Sheep, the award-winning immersive Ukrainian folk opera, will headline VAULT Festival 2019, playing an eight week run from 23 January to 17 March, with a press night on 29 January.

Counting Sheep is a deeply personal retelling of the revolution in Ukraine, where creators Mark and Marichka Marczyk met and fell in love on the barricades of Maidan Square in Kiev in 2014. Performed using traditional Ukrainian polyphonic choral music, archive footage from the revolution, and interactive staging, audience members are invited to become part of the revolution itself.

The show was a critically acclaimed sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016, and has since toured the world. In 2019 Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin of the Belarus Free Theatre, will direct a new version, incorporating new English language monologues telling the story of the Marczyks' love affair - where the political becomes personal and vice versa.

Counting Sheep is a unique artistic collaboration between Mark and Marichka Marczyk, whose lives changed forever while fighting for freedom and love in Maidan Square, and Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin, whose struggles with the repressive dictatorship in Belarus are well documented. This joint theatrical statement from people who went through real life and death situations makes for an explosive stage experience.

Natalia Kaliada, Co-Artistic Director of the Belarus Free Theatre said, "Given what is happening in the UK with Brexit, especially in these last few months, it is important to remind all of us that in Ukraine people were being jailed and killed for their dreams of being part of the European family, just as they did in Belarus, where we protested under European Union flags at great personal risk.

Counting Sheep gives one-thousand-year-old songs a contemporary twist, intersperses them with incredible storytelling, and puts it all together in a theatrical framework that reminds us not to take our freedoms for granted. Counting Sheep is urgent, essential theatre."

Mark Marczyk said, "The Revolution was the catalyst that changed the way we see ourselves, our country, our music, our contribution to Ukrainian culture on the global scene. We understood that to be is to be political-- every breath we take, every note we sing or don't sing, every word we speak is one that can have an effect on the balance of war and peace in the world."

Mark and Marichka Marczyk will also bring Counting Sheep's sister show to the VAULT Festival in 2019 - Balaklava Blues is a ethno-bass live set, coupled with video footage from the Donbas region of Ukraine, Soviet cartoons, and samples of the polyphonic blues of the Ukrainian plains.

Mark explains, "To us, the blues is about sharing painful impassioned stories in a rhythmic/melodic way that invites its listeners to feel, be inspired by, and draw strength from the hurt of the storyteller. This is exactly what the polyphonic tradition of the Ukrainian plains is about. Balaklava is a city in the annexed Crimean Peninsula that became the namesake for the face masks that were created to keep troops warm during the Crimean War in the 19th Century; those same masks became part of the zeitgeist in Ukraine when the revolution reached its peak in 2014, and became even more ubiquitous when the war in Eastern Ukraine escalated. Everyone in the country has been affected by the war; sometimes it feels like all Ukrainians have invisible balaclavas permanently tattooed on their faces. This project is about expressing the pain behind the balaclavas and drawing strength, unity, and hope from that expression."

The Counting Sheep company is Mark and Marichka Marczyk, Hanna Arkipchuk, Volodymyr Bedzvin, Siarhei Kvachonak, Masha Sazonava, Kiryl Kalbasnikau, Georgina Beaty and Michael Edwards. Directed by Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin, with lighting and video design by Josh Pharo, design by Nicolai Hart-Hansen, choreography by Bridget Fiske, and sound design by Dan Balfour.

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