Crimea plays take centre stage

A lecturer in playwriting has curated a new season of dramas from Russia and Ukraine.

Nicola McCartney - a dramatist who leads the University’s Masters in Playwriting - was commissioned to visit Moscow in search of writers to create new plays exploring recent issues in Russia and Ukraine.

The writers were asked to take the theme of the conflict that has escalated

Ongoing partnerships

The three new plays are presented by Glasgow’s Òran Mór as part of its successful lunchtime programme, A Play, A Pie and a Pint, in association with the National Theatre of Scotland and the University.

The season begins on 23 March and carries on throughout April and May. The plays will also be performed at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre.

Alexandra Smith, Reader in Russian Studies at the University, has also worked on the project, translating two of the plays and interpreting for the playwrights during their visit to the UK.

Four years ago, David MacLennan [the late founder of Òran Mór’s drama programme] asked me to travel to Moscow to find out if anyone there might be interested in A Play, A Pie and A Pint; he was keen to commission a season of Russian work. There was a lot of interest – and also some consternation at the idea of great art such as theatre being mixed with alcohol and pies. Shortly after that trip, the hostilities between the two countries escalated and we knew the time was ripe.

Nicola McCartneyLecturer in Playwriting

Fresh writing

The three playwrights selected for the season come from both nations involved in the conflict.

The first work in the series, Take the Rubbish Out, was written by Ukrainian playwright Natalia Vorozhbyt. Set in a modest home in the outskirts of Kiev, the drama centres on a family preparing for the funeral of a husband and father.

The second drama to be performed, The War Hasn’t Started Yet, was written by Mikhail Durnenkov from Russia. The play starts with Russian troops entering Ukraine, when they realise the war hasn’t officially started yet.

The last in the series is called Thoughts Spoken Aloud from Above by Russian playwright Yuri Klavdiev. It looks at issues such as gay rights, love and war in a surreal and fantastical journey through contemporary Russia as seen through the eyes of one of Russia’s most popular and controversial playwrights.

The playwrights I have chosen for this season are well-established and enormously respected, not just in Russia and Ukraine, but the world over. What is even more special is that they are all good friends. We asked them to respond to what has been happening over the last 18 months. Nothing in the history of Russia or Ukraine is ever simple…

Nicola McCartneyLecturer in Playwriting