Global Community Engagement presents "The Clear Blue Skies: Diaries from Ukraine"

A family with children inspects the fragments of downed missiles

A family with children inspects the fragments of downed missiles, which the Russian army fires at Ukraine, Kyiv (July 4, 2023)

Photo Credit: Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via AP

The Clear Blue Skies: Diaries from Ukraine

Brandeis premiere on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023
Spingold Theater, 2 p.m.

A play that shares the words and experiences of Ukrainian youth as they navigate the chaos and catastrophe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Through heartbreak, fear, and compassion for one another, we learn of separation and loss, of violence and cruelty, and of kindness and dreams. The Clear Blue Skies was created by Oleksandra Oliinyk, of Kyiv, and Scott Illingworth, of New York. Here is a note from Scott:

On February 25th, 2022, one day into the war in Ukraine, I began collaborating with my colleague, Oleksandra (Alex) Oliinyk from Kyiv. She teaches Ukrainian children between the ages of 11 and 18. As she fled the country herself and tried to keep track of her students’ safety, we began recording interviews with them and having each student record audio diaries. These diaries have become a remarkable chronicle of the experiences of a group of young people plunged into war and crisis. Some became refugees across Europe. Others stayed in Ukraine or have returned. Still others couldn’t escape and have lived under Russian occupation - recording their experiences from behind enemy lines. The recordings offer an intimate view of how they cope with the trauma of war and displacement - from deep commitments to building a new life of humanitarianism to a simple wish to be reunited with pets or favorite toys. The play is constructed of excerpts from these 80+ hours of gripping audio punctuated with Ukrainian poetry (delivered by a native speaker), ensuring the language of their homeland is elevated and preserved even as they work to communicate to an English-speaking audience.

Please join us as we welcome an ensemble of New York-based actors playing the young Ukrainians. (A writers’ fee goes to the young chroniclers’ families.) Following the performance, we’ll host a discussion with the directors and actors, and members of our local Ukrainian community. A list of resources for teaching, learning and action in preparation for attendance at the production is available. Please register here for attendance. Contact Professor Toni Shapiro-Phim with queries.

A note about content: This play contains loud sounds/explosions and descriptions of and references to violence, war crimes, and sexual assault.

Sponsored by the Global Community Engagement Program of the Samuels Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation (COMPACT) and the Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST) minor, in collaboration with the Theater Arts; German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literatures (GRALL); and English Departments.