PRO.ACT theater festival brings English theater to Ukraine

As war rages between Ukraine and Russia, there is a clear desire among its people to retain what they can of normality and expression in the face of violence. Of course, art is one of the key things people have always turned to when dealing with disasters. There have been many creative endeavors in Ukraine throughout this difficult time, and one such example is the annual PRO.ACT theater festival.

PRO.ACT is an English-language theater festival that has been taking place in Ukraine since 2018, hosting both plays, workshops and theater labs in English. A festival organized by the company ProEnglish Theater, it was founded by the company’s executive director, Alex Borovenskiy. Currently running August 13-22, PRO.ACT combines live theatrical events in Ukraine along with pre-recorded and streamed performances to share its works worldwide.

Partnership with Scenesaver streaming platformPRO.ACT 2022 brings theater from everywhere to audiences, including: Spit in the face of the devil (US) – an autobiographical play by Bob Brader exploring the abuse of his former sailor father; To put on makeup (UK-Scotland) – a drag queen’s rumination on changing times and living with a queer identity; and the creation of Borovenskiy Love in Wartime– an examination of love and relationships in the dangerous times in which Ukraine finds itself.

Theater has a long history of importance after (and during) the war. The World Wars fractured much of the world’s collective artistic psyche, and German playwright Bertolt Brecht – who began writing in the 1920s – rose to fame with his experimental epic theater after World War II, with his turn political and informational. France was a hotbed of innovative theatrical thought, with the Théâtre de l’Absurde emerging with the view of human struggle as an absurd condition, as well as the Théâtre de la Cruauté springing from the tortured mind of Antonin Artaud, who saw an inherent disconnect between audiences and their primal emotions and would create ritualistic performances to shatter those inhibitions.

But more than anything, theater was a way for people to regain some semblance of connection with the arts and with each other after the cataclysmic events of war. PRO.ACT does more than stage a strong platform for English theater in Ukraine – now, more than ever, it connects people in difficult circumstances. Through their work, they not only give voice to the tumult of this war, but they comfort those who seek stories in times of pain.