The Kiev Experimantal Theatre was founded in 1993 by a professional group of actors in the Kiev Youth Theatre.
In independent Ukraine the first collective, which was engaged in street theatre, became group of the actors of the Kyiv Youth theatre (Kyiv academic Young theatre at preent time). Later actors were separated, having created Experimental theatre. The director Valeriy Bilchenko supervised; he has finished an actor-director’s rate of the Russian academy of theatrical art, headed by the outstanding Russian director Anatoliy Vasiliev. After several years without a normal premise, the Kiev Experimental theatre was placed in territory of Kyiv Mohyla academy with auditorium approximately on 50 places only. The first performances were spent in a premise: “Archaeology”, “And sad B” of A. Shipenko, “Shot in autumn garden” of A. Chekhov. Valeriy Bilchenko has received “Kyiv Pectoral” for the best director for “And sad B”, by the best performances of Kyiv admitted “And sad B”, “Shot in autumn garden”. Except for the numerous Ukrainian awards, the Experimental theatre went on tour on Europe, receiving the awards and on the international festivals.
Since 1994 the theatre is engaged in producing Street Theatre. The productions that have particularly stuck in audiece mind: The Dreams or Carnival” and “Between Heaven and Earth” . These are powerful outdoor performances. They have been performed at international festivals in Byelorussia, Denmark, Germany, Tunisia, Slovakia and Poland.
In 2011, the actors of theatre KET – artistic family of Svietlakov appointed team „Highlights”, which is a continuation of the achievements of KET on the street. Youth and vibrancy of the team coupled with the experience gained at European festivals has brought excellent results in the form of a dynamic and colorful performance „The Dance Pageant”
Kiev Experimental Theatre reflects the philosophy of our times. Due to its more or less abstract, common and simplistic images, the artists transmit to the “simple viewer” the most complex concepts, problems and situations of today’s life.
The idea of a street performance was first implemented in Sevastopol in 1994, during the Chersonesus Games Theatre Festival; the performance was called Description of a Monster. Subsequent performances in the UKMA courtyard in Kyiv include Coming Home on September 1, 1995 (produced by V. Bilchenko), Opus No. 4 on October 16, 1995, Opus No. 5 on June 20, 1996 (with first participation by UKMA students), and Marko from Hell on June 28, 1998 (Convocation Day). The theatre also performed a Street Concert in October 1998 at the Golden Lion Festival in Lviv. Director – Anatoli Petrov.Street theatre reflects and materializes mentality of people and philosophy of time. It could be politically-promoting, or intellectually – entertaining and thus gaining the maximum influence on audience.Due to its more or less abstract, common and simplistic images, street theatre is able to transmit to the “simple viewer” the most complex concepts, problems and situations of today?s life. Gathering a crowd of random citizens, street theatre frees the souls of people, cleanses their instincts, teaches how to exist comfortably in a community.
“In European countries, the tradition of carnivals and street happenings, going back to the Middle Ages, still survives even in today’s television era. In Ukraine television has taken possession of the people. What can oppose it? The street performances by the Experimental Theatre are an attempt to win over the spectating masses in the street, to switch their attention to live events and even to have them participate in them”.
In independent Ukraine the first collective, which was engaged in street theatre, became group of the actors of the Kyiv Youth theatre (now Kyiv academic Young theatre). Later actors were separated, having created Experimental theatre. The director Valeriy Bilchenko supervised; he has finished an actor-director’s rate of the Russian academy of theatrical art, headed by the outstanding Russian director Anatoliy Vasiliev. After several years without a normal premise, the Kiev Experimental theatre was placed in territory of Kyiv Mohyla academy with auditorium approximately on 50 places.The first performances were spent in a premise: “Archaeology”, “And sad B” of A. Shipenko, “Shot in autumn garden” of A. Chekhov. Valeriy Bilchenko has received “Kyiv Pectoral” for best direction for “And sad B”, by the best performances of Kyiv admitted “And sad B”, “Shot in autumn garden”. Except for the numerous Ukrainian awards, the Experimental theatre went on tour on Europe, receiving the awards and on the international festivals. In parallel with work above chamber performances, the theatre created also street performances.The first street performance of Ukraine was held in July, 1993 in Sevastopol on a theatrical festival “Chersoneses games”. The director was Valeriy Bilchenko, the performance referred to as “Product nr3”. Place of realization was not the unique impressing factor. For example, in one episode from a window the actor in the form of the militiaman looked out, played the fragment and was hidden, and in the certain time from a window, under shouts of public, the dummy dressed in the same form fell. One more detail, which approached performance to life of city – fire in one of windows of the next house. Some spectators perceived it as a part of “Product nr 3”.This performance was not accepted by the theatre-goers and more never was played. The following street performance became direction of Anatoliy Petrov. The name – “Product nr4”. The premiere was held in Kyiv Mohyla academy in 1994. In performance the stilts, roller skates etc. were widely used.
This performance was played more than time, and was submitted on a theatrical festival “Golden Lion” in Lviv. Then the cooperation of theatre with theatre “Voskresinnia”, artistic director Yaroslav Fedoryshyn, began. The work of Experimental theatre and above chamber performances did not stop. The following became “Eastern match ” and “Waiting for Godot”
In 1997 theatre has left Valeriy Bilchenko. The new artistic director became Oleksandr Ignatusha. He was a director of “Amphitrion” Samuel Beckett. This performance has taken “Kyiv Pectoral” for best scenographic – Volodymyr Karashevskiy. But Oleksandr Ignatusha too has left theatre and a bit later place of the artistic director has occupied Anatoliy Petrov. He has made the rate on street performances, but did not forget and about classics, for which statement other directors were invited.
Street performances of that period are “Carnival “Dreams” and “Hellish Marko”. “Carnival” was made of separate numbers on stilts which are not plaited in one subject line. It was very convenient, when, for example, the passer – by joined viewing performance, it did not need to find out a plot. Numbers were clear and were executed without words, therefore performance was equally well perceived in the different countries – from Denmark up to Tunisia. One more advantage became use of stilts – as the actors were above the spectators, much more people could them see.
“Carnival” – the very maneuverable performance, for it is not required of scale scenery, only checkroom for changing clothes. Very easily “Carnival” it is possible to transform to parade by streets of city in bright celebratory costumes. This performance already was seen by the spectators and all Europe, Africa, and Asia. “Carnival “Dreams” became the champion of shows to street performances at theatre – was played more than 50 times – and is its card. The performance, changing and being improved, remains in an arsenal of theatre since 1998.
Performance “Hellish Marko” is based on legend about cossack Marko, which was lowered in hell, has won the Lucifier and has released all cossacks.
The performance was constructed on national dances, choreographers – Tetiana and Volodymyr Egorov. A plenty of tricks also was used.
The performance was scale, with a plenty of scenery, with fiery action. Therefore large transport was necessary for performances.
This performance too was very popular, because told about the Ukrainian traditions, life and customs.
“Hellish Marko” was some times updated.
At this time on a classical stage in direction of Larisa Paris there is “Bald singer”, E. Ionesco. The performance had the large success and has won some awards “Kyiv Pectoral”, including for the best female role – Valeriy Legin, and best female role of the second plan – Viktoria Avdeenko.
Finally the Experimental theatre joined famous director Volodymyr Ogloblin who has directed “Ghosts” of Henrik Ibsen and Olena Bogatyreva directed “Cassandra” then. The performance for children titled “As the Iron Wolf has rescued winter”, directed by Anatoliy Petrov.after that. The new performance “Between Earth and Heaven” – story about the small man with the large dream has appeared succesfully.. The performance had the large success and received the awards of the European festivals. The following step in development of street theatre of Ukraine became the joint Ukrainian-Polish project “Mazepa”. Two Ukrainian theatres – Kiev Experimental theatre and Liv theatre “Voskresinnia” – and Krakow theatre KTO, director of performance – Jerzy Zon. The episode was described, when future hetman was page of the French king.. On a legend Mazepa was immured alive in a room on accusation in connection with the wife of one of grandees.Scenery for performance was produced very scale. A vast crate, on which the professional musician, long trains for royal retinue sat at drum-type installation, four-meter machine, which fell asleep by sand Mazepa in the ending.For transportation of scenery of performance the lorry with the trailer goes. “Mazepa” was shown in many cities of Poland and Ukraine, switching Kyiv, Lviv and Lutsk.
But for Experimental theatre this project had also negative consequences. Behind some days up to a premiere the actor Oleksandr Svyetlyakov, which should play Mazepa, has broken a hand. On a premiere of July 14, 2001 in Krakow three actors have received burns of the person. Anatoliy Petrov has received trauma too.All this has suspended development of the Kyiv theatre and manufacture of new performances by Experimental theatre.
Only in 5 years; when the Kyiv experimental theatre already has lost a premise in Kyiv Mohyla academy and was incorporated with theatre “Golden Gates”, many from the actors send to the Kyiv academic Young theatre; under its name the new performance “Holubka” was created. It was the performance with the Ukrainian dances, national songs and cossacks’ entertainments.
Soon, in 2007 was produced street performance for children “My town”.
It was 1988 when a group of actors from the Kyiv Youth Theatre formed a theatre-studio. At first it was located in basement premises on Chkalov Street and staged its performances in various venues. In 1994 the theatre moved to the University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”. It was during the time that Ukrainian theatre (and not only) awakened from its lethargic stupor and began developing new, so-called avant-garde forms. Valeri Bilchenko was one of the enthusiasts of this rebirth, for whom theatre was “not only a simple, artificially created artistic world, but actually materialised ethics and philosophy”, and who gathered a group of like-minded seekers of new forms. They put on Archeology in 1989 and And he said B in 1991, both based on plays by Oleskii Shypenko; the former created a stir at the first Golden Lion Festival in Lviv. In 1993 Bilchenko established his own experimental theatre studio, which culminated its existence with the performance of The Eastern March in 1994. After that the theatre continued on its own.
The Kyiv Experimental Theatre is called “experimental” because it stages “experimental” plays. In spite of being tautological, this statement nevertheless brings out the most essential feature of this theatre. At present, the theatre functions on the premises of the National Academy of Kyiv Mohyla Academy (NUKMA), probably, quite a proper place for it.It began as the Kiev Youth Theatre at the end of the eighties. Waiting for Godot was directed by Alla Zamanska (and not by Bilchenko, the founder of the new theatre who had already left the theatre by that time), and performed on a stage provided by NUKMA. Another play by the Kyiv Experimental Theatre, which also turned out to be a remarkable event in Kyiv’s theatrical life, was A Shot in the Autumn Garden based on Chekhov’s play Cherry Orchard. The play received a prestigious award, Kiev Pectoral, in 1995, in the best play of the year and best director nominations. In 1998, the Experimental Theatre again won Kiev Pectoral in two nominations for The Bald Opera Singer based on a play by Ionescu, and directed by Larysa Paris (a director from Moscow who, surprisingly enough, speaks excellent Ukrainian and elegantly performs as an actress in The Chairs at the Dvoyina Theatre). Valeriy Lehin for his role in The Bald Opera Singer got an award for the best leading role and another award went to Viktoriya Avdeyenko for the best supporting role.
Staging plays in the theatre of the absurd line, the Experimental Theatre does not overdo with “black paint.” These plays deal with issues close to the Ukrainian mentality: friendship, love and family.
Family has been given much attention by playwrights and directors in the past and it is being given much attention now. Family can be regarded as a sort of a paradoxical situation, and as such has a lot of material for playwrights of the absurdist line.
Director Valeriy Bilchenko staged two plays, Archaeology (1989) and I Said “F…” (1991), both based on dramas by Oleksiy Shypenko.Archaeology made a sensation at the first Golden Lion Theatre Festival in Lviv (since then it has become a regular and prestigious theatre festival in Ukraine). I Said “F…” shocked some and made others ponder the most essential issues of our life. Inspired by his early successes, the young director decided to go ahead and create his own theatre which would develop along “experimental” lines. The Eastern March staged in 1994 was experimental in the sense that the actors centred on improvisation rather than on faithfully rendering every word of the play. It was improvisation not for improvisation’s sake but for the sake of creating certain moods that would change as the play unfolded. Waiting for Godot, the new theatre’s next play based on Beckett’s, took experimentation one step further. The two protagonists do not seem to be waiting for anybody any longer, they are quite satisfied with talking to each other; they argue, confess to wrong doing, discuss politics and weather. In the play that basically preserved the text of the original play by Beckett, the emphasis is laid upon nuances in the changing moods of the protagonists (as they were played by Anatoliy Petrov as Estragon, and Yaroslav Chornenky as Vladimir) rather than on the absurdist waiting for the “saviour” who will never come anyway. The play paradoxically turned the absurdity of existence (as Beckett originally designed his play to show) into a serendipitous discovery of the miracle of life. These days when so many prophecies of the impending doom are uttered by anyone who can talk, the middle class values seem to be the only hope for survival. The plays staged by the Experimental Theatre are a success for several reasons — good acting, humour, good choice of plays, life-asserting, not at all vulgar, and probing into profound issues of life. In 1998, the Kiev Experimental Theatre got another Kiev Pectoral award, this time for the best scenography (Amphitrion by Peter Hax). The Goethe-Institut cultural centre in Kiev was involved in the production of the play.Amphitrion, a light philosophical comedy which would probably suit best a commercial theatre, was turned by the Experimental Theatre into an ironic philosophic drama. Deity Night (Tetyana Shuran), top deity Jupiter (Valeriy Legin) and his messenger Mercury (Taras Rudenko) come down to earth from their heavenly abode to find themselves in a chaotic and disturbing situation. The stage (scenographer Volodymyr Karashevsky) looks like a building site, complete with mounds of sand, cement and timber. There is even a sort of a big tub in the centre of the stage for mixing sand, cement and water. The deities fly around and once in a while fall into the tub. But the mortals who are engaged in the never ending building or repairing process, feel themselves quite at home. In the interaction of gods and mortals the true worth of man, made of dust and to dust returning, engaged mostly in wars and a little in love, is revealed.
Festivals and Awards
Archeology And He Said B -Best Actress (Victoria Avdieynko) at the 1990 International Festival Golden Lion in Lviv
Best Production at the 1991 Berezillia Festival in Ivano-Frankivsk;
Special Prize at the International Festival in Torun (Poland); (1998)
Performences at the 1992-95 Chersonesus Games.
A Shot in an Autumn Orchard – prize for stage direction at the 1995 International Torun Festival.
Waiting for Godot – performed at the 1996 International Golden Lion Festival in Lviv;
and the International Promised Land Festival in Lodz.
Street Concerts – participated in the 1998 International Golden Lion Festival in Lviv,
the 1998 Slavic Bazaar in Vitebsk, and the 1998 Scena International Festival of Avant-Garde Theatres in Hannover; Theatre Director Anatoli Petrov awarded by Mayor of Kiev in 1999. 1998 Kiev Pectoral awards – Best Actress (Legin in The Bald Opera Singer), Best Supporting Actress (Avdiejenko in The Bald Opera Singer), and Best Stage Design (Karashevsky for Amphitrion). Since the autumn 1998 season it has been working as a repertory theatre-as of May 1999 it has four productions in its repertoire, along with a children’s New Year’s story. The Kyiv Experimental Theatre Studio (KETS) regularly puts on street shows, and it participates in festivals both in Ukraine and abroad (Belarus, Poland, Germany, Tunisia, Cypr, Slovakia, Turkey).
Theatre has been taking part in the co-production with KTO Theatre (Poland) and Voskresinnia Theatre (Ukraine) titled “Mazepa” (2001)