-- Story of becoming a bandura player by Julian Kytasty
Undesirable Elements: Ukraine
Five Ukrainian-Americans tell real family stories
of over a century of Ukrainians in New York
Directed by Ping Chong and Virlana Tkacz
Produced by Ping Chong & Company and Yara Arts Group
May 5-14, 2023 Ukrainian Museum, NYC
Undesirable Elements: Ukraine, a new production exploring experiences of Ukrainian-American New Yorkers and recent arrivals from Ukraine. Created by Ping Chong in collaboration with Virlana Tkacz and Yara Arts Group, the production explores the diversity of Ukrainian identity, immigration experiences, intergenerational connections, the history of Ukrainians in the United States, and the devastating impact of the current invasion by Russia.
with: Nariman Asanov, George Drance, Daria Kolomiec, Julian Kytasty and Lesya Verba
Undesirable Elements: Ukraine is the most recent work in director Ping Chong’s "Undesirable Elements" series. In the series, real people tell about their own lives. Since 1992, over 65 "Undesirable Elements" productions have been made in communities across the country and around the world. Ping Chong is an American contemporary theater director, choreographer, video and installation artist. He is a National Medal of Arts Recipient, which is the highest honor given to artists by the U.S. government.
Virlana Tkacz worked with Ping Chong in the 1990s when he first created the series. Last year Ping asked her if she would like to collaborate with him on a piece about Ukrainian Americans. Virlana suggested the people who are in "Undesirable Elements: Ukraine." George Drance’s grandparents arrived in New York before WWI, Julian Kytasty’s father arrived with his bandura-playing family after WWII, while Lesya Verba came to New York from Odesa two years ago. Nariman Asanov, a Crimean Tatar, came to US in the 1990s, while Daria Kolomiec was in Kyiv for Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In February a work-in-progress version of Undesirable Elements: Ukraine was part a symposium celebrating 30 Years of Ping Chong and Company’s "Undesirable Elements" at New School in New York. The work-in-progress showing was followed by a conversation with cast and creative team members, who were joined by Oksana Kis, Visiting Professor at Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts Department of Anthropology at the New School.
Yara Arts Group is proud to be partnering with Ping Chong and Company on this project. Ping Chong and Company creates theater and art that reveal beauty, invention, precision, and a commitment to social justice. It was founded in New York City in 1975 by leading theatrical innovator Ping Chong.
The company’s work is centered on innovation, collaboration, and community engagement. For more information: www.pingchong.org
Photographs on this page are by Pavlo Terekhov