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AndreI Novik: European Viewers Can Do With A Little Shock Therapy

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AndreI Novik: European Viewers Can Do With A Little Shock Therapy
ANDREI NOVIK

The hard truth about the war in Ukraine has been shown in Warsaw.

On the anniversary of the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the independent theater group «BY TEATR» showed the documentary play “How are you?” This is a verbatim play that tells the real stories of people in war. It contains stories of refugees from Kyiv and Vinnytsia, experiences of emigration in Romania, Germany, and mentions the tragedies of Bucha and Mariupol.

Do we need such productions that show the hard truth about the war? The Charter97.org website talked about this with the director of the play “How are you?” Andrei Novik:

— From an acting point of view, everything went well, everything worked out organizationally, everything worked out. As a director, I am very pleased with the shows. Of course, we expected a slightly greater response from the audience in terms of a larger number of people, but we are grateful for what we could gather.

I understand perfectly well that this topic and this performance are very difficult and painful for the perception of Belarusians and Ukrainians. A person will think before going to it, and then retreat for several days. We will continue to work for the Poles, reach out to the Polish audience so that there is content, but at the same time we will not particularly traumatize the already traumatized public.

— Were there any meetings or conversations after the performance? How did people respond to the production?

— Yes, a lot of people came up. After the first show, almost all the spectators remained in place. The actors took their bows, but the audience still could not understand that it was already the end. I just felt this pause hanging in the air. The audience was very impressed, shaken, for a long time all the actors and spectators stood and talked right on the set. There were a lot of Ukrainians, we heard many words of gratitude from them for our work, this is important. This is probably the most important thing for us as a team, to understand that people feel our support.

— Can we say that you shocked the viewer a little?

— To some extent, yes. I can’t say whether they were shocked or not. We can definitely say that the viewer came away impressed. Someone came up and said: “I couldn’t watch this,” but thanked me at the same time. Someone said: “Thank you very much for conveying information, for what you do. Thank you for not letting me forget.” There were a lot of words of gratitude, but everyone has their own perception, their own feelings, their own pain.

— As a director, do you think such performances are necessary and important, showing a very hard truth that sometimes people may not be ready or don’t want to watch?

— Absolutely, such projects are necessary. The viewer has the right to choose where to go and where not to go. But if we deprive the viewer of the opportunity to choose and go to such performances, then we will remove a whole layer of art, we will deprive the viewer of choice. We still must convey problems and pain in different ways, with different possibilities, and raise something important by any means and methods. Moreover, a European viewer can do with a little shock therapy.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to your portal. I want your audience to know that the Charter is not only an information site, but also an organization that helps and supports with all possible resources and methods. For this, many thanks to the entire team and Natallia Radzina personally. In particular, for helping our team take the first steps in self-organization and opening a legal entity. From the whole team, I thank you very much. I would really like your readers to know this. Feeling supported is very important.

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