Dakh Daughters Band, Kiev, Ukraine, 2016
Directed by Vlad Troickij
about the production
Over time the events of the war conflict in eastern Ukraine have disappeared from TV news and dead- lines of the world’s leading dailies. Yet whilst the countries in western Europe and on the Balkans are trying to cope with the refugee crisis, in the east, behind the EU border, war continues to rage in full strength. Masses of people are leaving their homes embarking on a long journey to peace. Thousands of others venture out of their homes to the squares to express their longing for freedom and democracy. At the time when the sound of the ringing weapons in Donbas remains unsilenced, the powerful appeal for love and freedom sounds in many European theatres and festivals. It comes from the cabaret performances by the Ukrainian Dakh Daughters Band.
The footsteps of their civic and political engagement met particularly at their performance on the Maidan in December 2013 when the band gave a concert at an improvised stage in the centre of Kiev. The urgency that literally radiates from their music and texts, gets under the skin of the audiences during the concerts. That is also why the Dakh Daughters have become one of the symbols of résistance against the suppression of Ukrainian democracy. Equally alarming, though, is the fact that even three years after their performance on Maidan we have an opportunity to sit in the auditorium facing people who are directly affected by the war that also directly affects their lives.
The work of the band is characterised by mixing elements of punk and rock, as well as rap with traditional Ukrainian folk music, thus creating multi-genre music. The wide spectre of genres is complemented by the number of instruments used by the musicians during the concert – keyboards, base, cello, violin, guitar, percussions, piccolo flute, or accordion. The multi-genre and cabaret form of the performances in which the Dakh Daughters Band return to the global avant-gardes of the past century, also reflects the quest for a new face of contemporary theatre. The artists don’t join the current trend in making productions in documentary and political theatre, but use a non-traditional form and method to reflect the reality.
Individual songs are cover versions of existing pieces and authors’ own compositions. The six female musicians are often inspired by literary texts from a number of authors, such as the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, the Russian–American author Iosif Brodsky, Charles Bukowsky or even William Shakespeare. It is Shakespeare’s Sonnet No 35 that sets the foundation for one of the most remarkable compositions entitled Roses/Donbas was presented by the Dakh Daughters on Maidan. Within the given context the very title latently indicates the thematic structure of the composition and of the entire performance. The reference to a rose is to symbolize the city of Donetsk, the capital of the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine which is torn by the violent civil war.
The musicians stand on stage and read in unison in English the first four verses of the Shakespeare sonnet: “No more be grieved at that which thou hast done / Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud.” The introductory lyrical reading accompanied by piano is soon replaced by the tension of rock to which the Dakh Daughters sing excerpts from Ukrainian folk songs and poetry. Together with the tension grows intensity, rhythm and especially the pace of the piece. The localisation of the composition in Donbas is also indicated by projections of photographs from mines and by headlights worn by the musicians. Roses/Donbas comes across as a pressing and tense scream about the status quo in their homeland.
Why is there so much evil in the world? Just take what is most important. God, what have you done? The incessant appeal for love between people, reconciliation and freedom is repeated virtually in every composition in the performance. The concert inter- laces hope with folly, poetic passages of Ukrainian folk music are intertwined with the harsh rock and punk tunes.
“…among the original heroes of the Maidan Revolution – named after the EuroMaidan – literally Euro Square – in central Kiev, which was the focus for the protests – were Dakh Daughters. They were in among the revolutionaries, singing at the barricades and on hastily erected stages. You can find YouTube videos of ´the Spice Girls with Molotov cocktails´ at the EuroMaidan, singing to massed ranks of military and police, and a delirious crowd. (...) ´Dakh Daughters are less Spice Girls,´ says their artistic director Vlad Troitsky, ´more Pussy Riot – with good music.´ They are genuinely original – mixing classical minimalism with passionate Ukrainian folk and a touch of ´freak cabaret´, delivered with punk energy.”
Peter Culshaw, 29 May 2014, TheGuardian.com
director, stage and costume design: Vlad Troitsky
music composition: Dakh Daughters Band
sound design: Roman Falkov
light design: Switlana Smijewa, Maria Wolkowa
video: Maria Wolkowa
production: Production Dakh – Centre of ContemporaryArt, Kiev
cast: Ruslana Chasipova, Natalka Halanevych, Tetyana Havrylyuk, Solomia Melnyk, Anna Nikitina, Zo
Vlad (Vladislav) Troitsky (1964), the founder and director of the remarkable avant-garde Kiev-based theatre DAKH – Centre of Contemporary Arts. He works with a number of theatres in Ukraine and Hungary; at the Bárka Theatre and elsewhere he directed a number of productions and, at the Maladype theatre he led acting workshop. In 2004 he founded ethno-chaos band DakhaBrakha and, in 2007, the project GogolFest that has become an important international festival of contemporary art and film in Kiev. He founded acting schools and taught at the Kiev I.K. Karpenko-Kary National Theatre, Cinema and Television University. Troitsky featured in a number of productions as actor and prepared many others as director. In his methods he resigned on the creation of illusion and, instead of fabula, he focuses on the circumstances of the plot.
Video of the production: yes
Script of the production: SK, EN, UA
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