“Наші люди міцніше за сталь – Our people is stronger than steel”, they say in Donbass. But. What does that mean for kids and teenagers who saw their innocence and hopes shattered by the Donbass conflict?
In “Листи незнайомому другу з Нью-Йорка – Letters to an unknown friend from New York”, 13 teenagers from Novhorodske tell their stories with honesty and simplicity. They talk and sing about present times and imagined future. They also refer to the specific past of their hometown. Once a settlements of German invited by Russian tsars, Novhorodske was named until 1951… New York. As D&B reported on last December, the municipality works now on a way to change the name back and create a New York 7 kilometres from the Donbass frontline.
In the galeries of Kyiv Mystetskiy Arsenal, the show is a walk with young actors who talk about their daily lives and hopes. Staging and sets are modern and diverse, somehow unexpected. “New York, New York… It’s up to you, New York…”, they sing in a cabaret-like scene. The perspective of being associated with this name is a source of pride and hope. Yet back home, it is the lights of separatist-held Horlivka they see at night in the distance. On the other side of a deadly border.
“The war does not stop. I lived through shelling. It was very scary. But I don’t blame anyone”.
How do these young people define themselves in this environment? How do they understand the situation? How do they learn to recognise between friends and foes? Between truth and lies? The unexpected history of the town, its memories, the anecdotes the actors describe, historical documents and interviews with miners and industrial workers; the spectator discovers another Donbass. And experience a very sincere and touching encounter with this some of the war’s victims and tomorrow’s Ukrainians.