Underground Theatre: Ukraine Actors Return To Stage In Bomb Shelter

Actors in a heavily bombarded city in southern Ukraine have returned to the stage, putting on their first performance, since the war, in an underground shelter converted into a tiny theatre.

A few dozen theatre-goers descended steep concrete steps into the subterranean venue on Thursday for the opening night of a show put on by the Mykolaiv Art Drama Theatre. Their usual venue, an ornate 450-seater hall, has been closed due to the six-month war.

“Of course, many plays have been cancelled, because some male actors went away to fight, some went abroad as temporary refugees. So, our theatre company has become smaller,” said actress Violeta Mamykina, speaking in her cramped dressing room before going on stage.

Theatre manager Artem Svystun described the performance as “art-therapy”, giving local people who have stayed on in the city some brief respite from the stress of the war.

Ievhen Studzinskyi, who was in the audience for Thursday night’s show, agreed.

“When I went outside, I said it plain and simple, ‘it was fun’,” he said. “There were tears. There was food for thought. There was a philosophy, depth. I felt really good.”

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