This past April, a cast of eight teenagers put on a play in a warehouse-turned-shelter in Lviv, Ukraine, to the sounds of sirens, as bombs fell overhead. Their play tackles the topics of social orphanhood and being separated from their parents due to the conflict.
Directed by active-duty Ukrainian soldier Oleg Oneshchak, their play “Mama Po Skaipu” (Mom on Skype) was one of the rare cultural events in the area since the war broke out in February.
Their project was captured by photographer Finbarr O’Reilly and covered in the New York Times. When Irondale Executive Director Terry Greiss read the news of this event, he was overwhelmed by the story. Greiss tracked down Oneshchak over Facebook messenger and extended an offer to bring the show to Brooklyn for its U.S. premiere.
Now, nine teens from Ukraine’s The School of Open-Minded Kids Studio Theater, located in Lviv, have made their way to New York via Poland to present the United States premiere of Mom on Skype, August 13-14.
“When I read about this incredible performance in The New York Times in April, I felt inspired that once again, theater was bringing hope and a needed kindness to the world,” said Greiss, Irondale’s Executive Director. “The next day we tracked down Oleg on social media and sent him a note of admiration. After lots of conversation and planning, we are so humbled and excited to bring this project to Brooklyn. We are honored to give these teens a theater, an audience, and an opportunity here in our space to continue to use their voices to raise awareness and call for peace.”
Jim Niesen, the company’s Artistic Director said “The power and importance of this project prevailed in spite of the grave injustices happening in Lviv and all over Ukraine. Let this trip be a needed respite and a mark of solidarity for all of us.”
“The teenagers started to prepare for the play in January. It was originally about the topic of social orphanhood as a consequence of labor migration and more broadly, the communication gap between parents and children,” director Oleg Oneshchak said. “Now under the Russian military aggression, the play has taken on completely different meanings, and the separation they face now is a result of new circumstances. Our children realize our path to peace lies through victory and they are a part of helping our army make our sky safe again.”
Irondale continues to raise funds to support the cost to transport and house the ensemble and their chaperones. To donate, visit https://irondale.org/show-mom-on-skype/
Mom on Skype will be performed August 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. The cast and creative team will host a Q&A discussion following the performance. Tickets will be on sale later this month.