Kyiv's 'art shelter' basement theatre heals the scars of war

February 19, 2023 12:42 pm

[Source: Reuters]

The bombs fall and the sirens blare but, in a Kyiv basement, rehearsals for the show – about a German town relentlessly attacked during World War Two – go on.

The ProEnglish Theatre’s next performance of “The Book of Sirens” is on Feb. 21, three days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

It is the latest instalment of theatre founder and Artistic Director Alex Borovenskiy’s creative mission to help heal the scars of conflict and tell the world there is more to Ukraine than survival.

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“If we talk about the war through the means of art, this wound will be able to heal much faster. We will not scar. We will not have this trauma for generations,” he told Reuters.

Theatre allowed people to experience trauma in “a non-traumatic way,” added Borovenskiy, whose troupe performs in English.

“You can talk about it and feel easier. It’s very therapeutic to speak in the form of art about military things.”

The theatre is in a basement beneath a four-storey building.

A bomb shelter in World War Two, it is now an “art shelter,” Borovenskiy says.

In the early days of the Ukraine war, 40 people and seven cats lived there to stay safe, and actors rehearsed among them for “The Book of Sirens”.

“You don’t need any soundtrack. You just open the window and you hear the sirens and this is your music,” Borovenskiy said.