Kurbas: 1920s avant-garde theatre in Ukraine. Public lecture by Virlana Tkacz and Waldemart Klyuzko, 8 May 2019, 7pm


In the 1920s, director Les Kurbas radically transformed Ukrainian theatre, and was at the cutting edge of theatre innovations across Europe. Kurbas’s theatrical techniques focused on ‘making the invisible visible’; he experimented with movement, gesture, and new media such as photography and film, to produce unprecedented constructivist productions. Designs from his shows were shown in exhibits in Paris in 1925 and New York 1926, but like many of the individuals who worked with him, Kurbas perished in Stalin’s purges, and records of his work were lost to the world for decades.

DATE: 8 May 2019

TIME: 7pm

VENUE: Main Hall of the Ukrainian catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, 21 Binney Street, Mayfair, London W1K 5BQ

ADMISSION: Tickets £10 via Eventbrite. £7 for students. Click here to book.

LANGUAGE: This event will be held in English, moderated by Maria Montague, Assistant Director, Ukrainian Institute London.

Theatre director Virlana Tkacz and designer Waldemart Klyuzko have co-curated seminal exhibitions on Kurbas and his theatre productions in Kharkiv and at the Arts Arsenal in Kyiv. As prominent theatre artists themselves, Tkacz and Klyuzko offer unique insight and a creative approach to exploring Kurbas’s work. The event will feature a presentation of images from the Kurbas productions and from the exhibitions curated by Tkacz and Klyuzko. They will discuss their work in uncovering Kurbas’s innovative achievements in theatre in the 1920s.

Virlana Tkacz and Waldemart Klyuzko will also be giving a public lecture in Cambridge on 9 May, organised by Cambridge Ukrainian Studies.

Speakers bios:

VIRLANA TKACZ is the founding director of Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa in New York. Since 1990, she has created 35 original theatre pieces that fuse fragments of poetry, songs, legends and history to create imagistic productions with narrative. Employing projected images and complex musical scores, they explore our relationship to time and current issues. Recently, "Underground Dreams" and "Hitting Bedrock," were based on dreams of urban youth in Donetsk, while "1917-2017: Tychyna Zhadan & the Dogs" explored the violence of urban warfare and was awarded Best Music and Best Musical by New York Innovative Theatre Awards. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Virlana was educated at Bennington and Columbia University.


WALDEMART KLYUZKO from Kyiv, is a resident designer with Yara Arts Group in New York. Since 2011 he designed ten Yara productions and was nominated for two New York Innovative Awards. He co curated “Kurbas in Kharkiv” at Yermilov Center in Kharkiv and “Kurbas: New Worlds” at the Art Arsenal. His own art includes: installations, photography, land art, street art, video art, performances and experiments with space.