Sponsored by the Tisch School of the Arts, Theater and Policy Salon, and the John Brademas Center, ‘The Clear Blue Skies: Diaries from Ukraine’ features professional actors performing excerpts of recordings made by Ukrainian youth

A actor reads from a script as another actor lies on a table, propped on her arms but with her head down
Actors in rehearsal for 'The Clear Blue Skies: Diaries from Ukraine.' (Photo by Yulia V. Clark)

NYU Washington DC presents The Clear Blue Skies: Diaries from Ukraine, a documentary theater piece based on audio diaries and recordings from Ukrainian children and teenagers. The performance will be held in person and virtually on May 3 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at NYU Washington DC, 1307 L St. NW. It will be followed by a discussion with policy experts about the ongoing war.

Actors Mike Magliocca, Kyle Cameron, Raquel Chavez, Alexandra Templer, Masha Makutonina, Jennifer Mogbock, and co-creators Scott Illingworth, an associate arts professor in Tisch’s Graduate Acting program, and Oleksandra Oliinyk, founder of the Actors Lab Ukraine, will perform excerpts of the diaries recorded by 15 young Ukrainians. 

Illingworth was in Kyiv in 2019 on a Fulbright grant when he connected with director and teacher Oliinyk and met some of her young students. Within days of the start of the war in 2022, Illingworth and Oliinyk asked some of these students to record their experiences in English as a way to chronicle the plight of young people plunged into war and crisis. The recordings detail their experiences as refugees across Europe and living under Russian occupation, creating an intimate and urgent theatrical experience about the trauma of war and the resilience and humor of young people facing an unknown future.

The recordings were made independently by the interviewees in Ukraine, although one young woman sent recordings from a Russian-occupied town, Illingworth explained.  The performance weaves the entries together; sometimes it feels like a series of monologues, while other times it seems as if the young people are in conversation or responding to each other’s ideas, he said.

“The news of war can be so focused on military strategy and the domestic and global political ramifications,” Illingworth said. “There is something profoundly recentering about spending time listening to a group of young people share their fears and discoveries and changing ideas of their futures.

“They are so familiar. They worry about parents, and fitting in in new communities, and the pets they left behind,” he continued. “They worry about their future in or out of Ukraine. But they also see the big picture and desperately want the world to keep its eyes on what is happening to them and their culture.”

A  panel discussion will follow the performance. Gillian Huebner, executive director of the Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues at Georgetown University, Ambassador William B. Taylor, vice president, Europe and Russia at the United States Institute of Peace, and Katya Pavlevych, a U.S.-based advocate for Where Are Our People?, an initiative exposing the deportation of Ukrainians to Russia, will examine the issues raised in the performance and the ongoing conflict. Michael Feldman, founder of Theater and Policy Salon and a consultant in cultural diplomacy, will moderate.

The event is free but registration is required.

This program is supported by a grant from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The performance was also made possible with support from the Tisch School of the Arts, Dean Allyson Green, the Tisch Initiative for Creative Research, and the Global Research Initiatives, Office of the Provost.

About the Tisch School of the Arts

For over 50 years, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts has drawn on the vast artistic and cultural resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for artists, scholars, and innovators. Today, students learn their craft in a spirited, risk-taking environment that combines the professional training of a conservatory with the liberal arts education of a premier global university with campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and 11 academic centers around the world. Learn more at www.tisch.nyu.edu

About the John Brademas Center

Inspired by its founder, former Congressman and NYU President Emeritus, the John Brademas Center of New York University pursues a collection of initiatives in the areas which formed the core of John Brademas' life in public service: the state of Congress and the legislative process in democracies; the shifting dynamics in foreign policy and international affairs; and, the present state and future prospects for higher education, the humanities, arts and culture. With a growing reputation as a home for informed and civil debate on politics, public policy and other major issues facing the nation and global community, the Brademas Center undertakes programs at NYU's campuses in New York City and Washington, D.C., and increasingly around NYU’s global network.

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Peggy McGlone
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