Yara Arts Group + Serhiy Zhadan + Anthony Coleman
In 1929, Ukrainians were discovering the joys of jazz and singing the stories of their city of Kharkiv. The audiences loved the show’s catchy songs, wild dances and dazzling sets. The Communist Party bosses did not, so the show and its artists disappeared in Stalin’s purges. A few years ago, Virlana Tkacz, Yara’s director, discovered the conductor’s score hidden in an archive.
"The 80- minute non-stop performance is high octane" -- NY Theatre Wire.
created by Yara Arts Group and Ukrainian artists about the city of Kharkiv, texts & lyrics by award-winning Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan,
music by Anthony Coleman and directed by Virlana Tkacz.
SERHIY ZHADAN is one of Ukraine most celebrated writers. In 2022 he received the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought, the German Peace Prize and nine international literature prizes. His books now available in English include: The Orphanage, Mesopotamia and What We Live for, What We Die For: Selected Poems (from Yale University Press). Serhiy was born in Luhansk, Ukraine's easternmost region and lives in Kharkiv. He has worked with Yara Arts Group since 2005, including the award winning show 1917-2017: Tychyna, Zhadan & the Dogs. He is the front man for his band Zhadan & the Dogs. Zhadan's poem "Headphones" was published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. More on Zhadan.
Short quotes from "Radio 477" by Zhadan
Mr. Zhadan looked majestic with the rings behind him" -- Ukrainian Weekly.
ANTHONY COLEMAN, composer and pianist, is one of the key figures of the New York music scene. His work bridges the gap between Composition and Improvisation, Uptown and Downtown, and spanning Free Improvisation, Jazz, Jewish music, and Contemporary Chamber Music. After earning a MA in Composition from Yale School of Music, Coleman immersed himself in New York’s Downtown Scene. Coleman has recorded 15 CDs and has played on more than 150. He’s on the faculty of the New England Conservatory,.
George Drance, Silvana Gonzalez, Akiko Hiroshima, Susan Hwang, Petro Ninovskyi, Julian Kytasty and Lesya Verba
plus live orchestra: led by Anthony Coleman (piano) with: Frank London (trumpet), Marty Ehrlich (clarinet), Erica Mancini (accordion), Paul Brantlley (cello), Anna Abondolo (bass), James Paul Nadien (drums)
VIRLANA TKACZ, director & co-translator, heads the Yara Arts Group and has directed almost forty original shows at La MaMa in New York that also performed in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Bishkek, Ulaanbaatar, and Ulan Ude. She received an NEA Poetry Translation Fellowship for her work with Wanda Phipps on Serhiy Zhadan’s poetry and their work has been published by Yale as What We Live For, What We Die For (2019) and the forthcoming When Fire Descends. She also writes extensive on Les Kurbas and Ukrainian avant-garde of the 1920s and co-curated Kurbas: New Worlds at the Art Arsenal in Kyiv. See Bilingual catalog
"Daria Kolomiec brought everyone to their feet to dance. The idea of dancing for Ukraine and experiencing happiness even during a grave situation was inspiring" -- Ukrainian Weekly.
English translations: Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps with Anthony Coleman
Choreography: Shigeko Sara Suga, Set & graphics: Waldemart Klyuzko with Zhenya Kopiov, Projections Hao Bai, Costumes: Keiko Obremski, Light design: Margaret Peebles, Sound design: Marek Soltis, technical director & rigging: Watoku Ueno, assistant director: Nadia Sokolenko, stage manager Kateryna Diumina, production manager Nadia Tatchyn. Photos
Dedicated to all the artists who worked on “Hello, This Is Radio 477!” which opened at the Berezil Theatre in Kharkiv, Ukraine January 9, 1929.
"Under the direction of Ms. Virlana Tkacz and with choreography by
Shigeko Sara Suga, the cast quick changes from absurd to straight, from non-sense verse to lyrical song and tender moments" -- NY Theatre Wire.
Special reading with poets Serhiy Zhadan & Reginald Dwayne Betts after show March 11 at 7PM info
with Eugene Hutz/Gogol Bordello March 17 & 18
RADIO 477! is inspired by "Hello, This Is Radio 477!" a 1929 jazz show performed in Kharkiv about Kharkiv. It envisioned a Ukrainian popular culture in step with the latest trends in Europe and America. Radio 477, Kharkiv’s radio station, was one of the most powerful in the country; it represented new technology and the future. Long assumed to have been destroyed, Yuliy Meitus’s score for this show was recently discovered in the archives. Only fragments of the script exist, but the programs include a detailed list of scenes. "Hello, This Is Radio 477!" had a satirical look at city life in the first part, popular dances in the second, and a longer scene as the final act. We follow the show’s structure and are inspired by songs by Yuliy Meitus.
Yuliy Meitus, one of Ukraine’s great 20th century composers, was born in 1903 in a Jewish family in Kropyvnytsky, Ukraine. In 1919 he graduated from the local music school and moved to Kharkiv, where he studied composition with Semen Bogatyryov at the Kharkiv Institute of Music and Drama, graduating in 1931. From 1923 to 1924 he was the concertmaster for the Kharkiv Opera Society and organized the first jazz band in Ukraine in 1925. From 1927 to 1933 Meitus created the music for 15 productions at the Berezil Theatre in Kharkiv, many directed by the Ukrainian director Les Kurbas. It was believed that all of Meitus’s music for the Berezil shows was destroyed after Kurbas was arrested in 1933. But the recent find of the conductor’s score for this show gives us hope more of his Berezil scores will be located. Today, Yuliy Meitus is best known for his 14 operas, numerous orchestral works and about 300 songs set to poetry, Virlana Tkacz
video below "Fish's Song" from "Radio 477!" performed by Susan Hwang
videos from work-in-progress presentation at Bohemian National Hall.
second video below "Dance" from Radio 477!" performed by George Drance, Silvana Gonzalez, Akiko Hiroshima, Susan Hwang, Petro Ninovskyi and Lesya Verba. Video by Pavlo Terekhov
third video (above) VOA News on Yara's "Radio 477!" in Ukrainian
Yara Arts Group + Serhiy Zhadan + Anthony Coleman
created by Yara Arts Group and Ukrainian artists about the city of Kharkiv,
texts & lyrics by award-winning Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan,
music by Anthony Coleman, conceived and directed by Virlana Tkacz
Radio 477! demonstrates how Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine interrupted and destroyed lives. The show was presented in English with Ukrainian spoken throughout. Lesya Verba, a performer from Odesa, used her beautiful voice to sing songs in Ukrainian. Petro Ninovskyi also lent his voice to shimmering songs in Ukrainian. Performances by George Drance, Susan Hwang, Silvana Gonzalez and Akiko Hiroshima were also incredibly strong.
The set design was exceptional, part of which was only revealed after a curtain opened in the third act. The glowing rings of the set, recreated from Vadym Meller’s 1929 set for performances of the Berezil theater in Kharkiv, were assembled by a group headed by Waldemart Klyuzko. They presented the illusion of stepping into another world. The world was presented to us earlier in projections compiled by Klyuzko that included vintage photographs of the old city of Kharkiv and archival photos of the original 1929 jazz show at the Berezil.
The show at La Mama, which drew the audience in with its visuals and music, revolved around the concepts of radio and theater and the way they connect to the city. It is full of beautiful lines like, “But what is as delicious as the smell of backstage?” It is a tribute to Kharkiv. Another line says, “The city as love stitched to skin.” And there’s the memorable line, “You don’t comprehend, you feel the past in order to trust the future.”
The performance reminds the audience that many people were arrested in the 1930s, including the noted theater director Les Kurbas. From 1927 to 1933 Mr. Meitus created the music for 15 productions at the Berezil Theatre in Kharkiv, many of which were directed by Mr. Kurbas. It was believed that all of Meitus’s music for the Berezil shows was destroyed after Kurbas was arrested in 1933. The discovery of the score for “Radio 477!” gives hope more of his Berezil scores will be found in the future.
Air raid sirens sounded at the end of Act 2, right before Act 3 began with news about Russia’s invasion. Act 3 ended with the actors transformed into characters of the original 1929 photo in costumes recreated by Keiko Obremski.
Time progressed and space opened, and the rings of the radio waves designed by Mr. Meller appeared. The performance of “Radio 477!” came to an end, but the show continued with a reading by Serhiy Zhadan together with Bob Holman reading the English translations.
Throughout the show the audience eagerly waited for Mr. Zhadan to appear and he did not disappoint. Zhadan looked majestic with the rings behind him. Ukraine’s past was evoked in the present events.
now, how can you complain about the weight
of events that have pushed you
into the cold air of history?
Daria Kolomiec, a DJ new to the stage of “Radio 477,” improvised with music as Mr. Zhadan read his poems. At the end of the reading, Ms. Kolomiec brought everyone to their feet to dance. The idea of dancing for Ukraine and experiencing happiness even during a grave situation was inspiring one. The audience left with music in their bodies.
Olen Jennings, Ukrainian Weekly, April 30, 2023
info in Ukrainian | Meest | Nova Hazeta
The first workshop of Radio 477 was in Kharkiv in November 2021. It was made possible by Tetiana Pylypiuk and the Slovo Building Residency at the Kharkiv Literary Museum, Yana Partola and the Kotlyarevsky National University of Arts in Kharkiv, Vira Lahutina and the Regional Centre of Culture and Arts of Kharkiv, Tanya Turko and the Theatre Museum at the Shevchenko Theatre and all the friends of Yara Arts Group. We were slated to return in March 2022 to continue working on the show with Serhiy Zhadan. The war prevented this. Radio 477: In Concert was at the Bohemian National Hall in June 2022 and at PS 21in Chatham, NY in August.
Making Yara Arts Group's Radio 4777! with Serhiy Zhadan by Virlana Tkacz
PS 21 in Chatham, NY - "Many Ukrainians have made this part of New York state their favorite summer spot. It is a short drive from Hunter, New Paltz, Albany and just down the road from the Plast Camp in East Chatham."
article in Ukrainian from Meest
Photos from "Radio 477!" by Pavlo Terekhov, Theo Cote & Waldemart Klyuzko
Kurbas: New Worlds
bilingual (English- Ukrainian)
museum catalog on Les Kurbas
includes section on Radio 477!
see pages 282-319
Kurbas Virtual Events
Yara Arts Group from La MaMa Experimental Theatre and the Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema of Ukraine present a series of virtual events about the series of museum exhibitions on Les Kurbas they mounted in Ukraine 2017-2018. Les Kurbas was an innovative Ukrainian theatre director who worked in Kyiv and Kharkiv in the 1920s and was a forerunner in the use of new media in theatre. The three part series will premiere in February 2022 and includes virtual events about “Kurbas in Kyiv” “Kurbas in Kharkiv” and “Kurbas: New Worlds.” The virtual events are in Ukrainian. They are free and can be viewed any time after their premiere through the links here.
or more on the exhibition "Kurbas in Kyiv"
for more on the exhibition "Kurbas in Kharkiv"
for more on the exhibition "Kurbas: New Worlds"
The new series opens with "Kurbas in Kyiv." It introduces the three curators: Virlana Tkacz, Tetiana Rudenko and Waldemart Klyuzko and tells how they came together as a team to create the exposition “Kurbas in Kyiv” at the Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema in Kyiv. This exhibition featured costumes, design models, photographs and films from Les Kurbas’s work in Kyiv at the Young Theatre (1917-1920) and the Berezil Artistic Association (1922-1926). Included in the exhibition were recordings by Yara actors reading scenes from Kurbas’s shows. Kurbas in Kyiv premieres February 10, 2022 and can be viewed any time after through the links above.
“Les Kurbas Events” virtual events are all free and can be viewed at any time through the links above. They are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Self-Reliance (NY) FCU and friends of Yara Arts Group.