A festival of Ukrainian culture from Kiev’s National Academic Theatre of Russian Drama Lesya Ukrainka at London’s St. James theatre, 8 – 19 September 2015

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A festival of Ukrainian culture from Kiev’s National Academic Theatre of Russian Drama Lesya Ukrainka at London’s St. James theatre, 8 – 19 September 2015. 

Theatre, film and a photography exhibition.

Kiev’s National Academic Theatre of Russian Drama Lesya Ukrainkabrings a festival of events celebrating Ukrainian culture, Ukrainian Culture Today, to the St. James Theatre from 8 to 19 September 2015, curated by Mikhail Reznikovich, Artistic Director of the National Academic Theatre of Russian Drama. The festival, comprising four plays, two free film screenings and a photography exhibition, will give British audiences a rare chance to acquaint themselves with some of Ukraine’s cultural masterpieces as well as its developing modern arts scene.

The cycle of four plays, Ward of the Manor, My Mocking Happiness, Life’s Little Nothings and Don Juan, will be performed in Russian and live dubbed in to English by a translator who will be present in the auditorium.

To celebrate 50 years since its release, Serguei Paradzhanov’s The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors will be screened on Saturday 12 September and will be introduced by one of the films’ stars, Larisa Kadochnikova, who will also play the role of Olga Knipper-Checkhov in My Mocking Happiness. Earth, directed by Alexander Dovzhenko, will be screened on Tuesday 15 September.


By Ivan Turgenev| Directed by Leonid Ostropolsky

8 – 10 September 2015

This stage production is drawn from the Ivan Turgenev comedic drama Ward of the Manor, in a new translation for the English stage and will be performed in memory of Russian theatre director Georgy Tovstonogov.

Olga Korina was only a young girl when she left home.  Now, after seven years away, the time has come for her long awaited return from St. Petersburg to her family’s country estate. Among those there to greet the now grown-up, stunning – and recently wed – Lady Olga Yeletskaya, is one ragged gentleman – Vasilii Kuzovkin.

Kuzovkin, too, hails from a noble line, but is otherwise penniless. His inheritance tied up in the courts for as long as anyone can remember, the good-natured Kuzovkin has long served as ever-present guest, dependent and de facto ward of the family estate of Lady Olga.  He is also the family’s longest running joke.

When Lady Olga’s new husband, Pavel Yeletsky and some conniving neighbours join in some not entirely good-natured – and drunken – ribbing of Kuzovkin, secrets are revealed. The lives of Lady Olga, State Adviser Yeletsky, and the devoted Kuzovkin will never be the same. True nobility does not reside in mere titles…


Written by Leonid Malyugin, based on the letters of Anton Chekhov | Devised by David Borovsky | Directed by Irina Barkovskaya and Leonid Ostropolskiy

11 – 12 September 2015

My Mocking Happinessis drawn from Anton Chekhov’s personal correspondence with his wife, Olga Knipper-Chekhova, and close friend, Lika Mizinova. Alive with intimate and personal detail, the letters reveal the writer’s complex inner life and his musings on theatre, art, 20th century psychology, society and power. He also discusses his timeless dramas Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.

Structurally similar to Jerome Kilty’s 1960 play Dear Liar, My Mocking Happiness has been staged at Kiev’s Lesya Ukrainka Theatre for more than fifty years.


Based on the short stories of Anton Chekhov

Directed by Kirill Kashliskov

13 - 15 September 2015

Something like vaudeville meets the soulful Russian romance in this timeless consideration of life’s oldest puzzles. Drawn from the short fiction of the creator of the modern form, Life’s Little Nothings offers a vivid and provocative take on those personal thoughts and feelings one might hope would forever remain undiscovered.

But in Chekhov - or as he often published his early comic work, “Antosha Chekhonte” or “The Man With No Spleen” - all is eventually revealed. In this original handling of his stories A Daughter of Albion, A Tripping Tongue, Difficult People, A Happy Man and The Wallet, the sinister side of what at first seems so innocent will not long remain buried.


17 - 19 September 2015

Written by Tirso de Molina |Adapted by Lesya Ukrainka | Directed by Mikhail Reznikovich

Noted early 20th century Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka offers an original, authentically Ukrainian, take on this timeless story of conflict between freedom and authority. In a departure from the original story by Tirso de Molina, as well as later iterations by Moliere and Pushkin, the Ukrainian Don Juan introduces us to Dolores, Lesya Ukrainka’s autobiographical depiction of a young woman selflessly devoted to the Don.


In Ukrainian with English subtitles

12 September at 2pm

The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is a 1965 film by the legendary filmmaker Sergei Parajanov, based on the classic book by Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky. The storyline revolves around two separated lovers caught in a family feud and also features a detailed portrayal of Ukrainian Hutsul culture, showing Carpathian environment, family rituals, the beauty of Hutsul traditions, music, costumes, and dialect.


Silent film

15 September at 2pm

Earthis a 1930 Soviet film by Ukrainian director Alexander Dovzhenko, concerning the process of collectivisation and the hostility of Kulak landowners

In 1958 the film was named as one of the best twelve films of all time at the World Exhibition in Brussels. Charlie Chaplin called Dovzhenko “the one and only artist, thinker and poet, given as a present by Slavs to the world”.



St. James Theatre

12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA


All plays will be performed in Russian and will be live-dubbed in English to be enjoyed in either language.


Box Office: 0844 264 2140

Dates: Tuesday 8 – Friday 19 September 2015

Theatre Tickets: £10, £15, £25, £35 (premium)

Photography Exhibition: Free

Film Tickets: Free but reservation required

Film The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/teni

film Earth: https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/earth