Theatre of Gulags
A theatrical installation created by a team of migrant-led creatives exploring the dark history of USSR labour camps and the full-scale theaters that were built inside of them. With extensive research and a digital-live hybrid experience, explore with us the forgotten past and commemorate artists in the worst of times.
Theatre of Gulags
What is Theatre of Gulags?
Theatre of GULAGs is a theatrical installation exploring the dark history of USSR labor camps, and the full-scale theaters that were built inside of them. Theaters behind the fence were filled with artists from distinct theatrical and ethnic backgrounds – all prisoners.
Walk through the camp corridor to discover the stories of four prisoners behind the hessian fabric curtain. A Queer Roma man, a Ukrainian theatre revolutionary, a Jewish puppetry maker, and the first woman to direct an Opera, all trapped inside the gulag walls. They will tell you about their journeys – from their homes, to the black NKVD cars, to the train carriages with no windows, to barracks, and onto the stage. Continue walking through the corridor, until you find your seat in a GULAG theatre, and the show of truth will begin.
We need your help!
A work-in-progress of the project will be presented at the VAULT festival 2023, February 26th. We are an independent student production, where 90% of the creative team and cast are young, migrant creators from underrepresented communities. We really hope to be able to pay our artists and creators for their work to support them in their journey in the competitive and marginalized world of art.
This project is the first in the UK - if not the world - to focus on artists in Sovet labour camps through a theatre production. It’s impossible to create this project in the creators’ native countries: Russia and Ukraine, however the chance to present to global audiences in the UK, London would be an incredible opportunity for us to share the forgotten history of a massive genocide committed by the Soviet Union. Russia has been erasing such stories of Les Kurbas, Hava Volovich, Natalia Sats, and Vadim Kozin for years to make people forget, to never let the world know of crimes against humanity. That’s why it’s so important for us to be able to share this project with people right now when Russia is committing mass genocide of Ukraine once again!
The Creative Team
Director: ANYA OSTROVSKAIA
Producer: AMY SZE
Scenographer: JOCK MAITLAND
Sound designer: JACK CLEARWATER
Lighting designer: MAX JUAN-BALCH
Stage manager: MIHA GRIGOREAN
Movement director: MARIANA CAMILOTI
Performers: DANIEL GRIMSTON, EVA MASHTALER, JANEKS BABIDORICS, LILIT LESSER
Illustrator: OLGA YURASOVA
Videographer: EMILE SCOTT BURGOYNE
Anya Ostrovskaia - Lead artist / director
Anya was born in Moscow in a family of Ukrainian Jews, due to her identity and positionality, Anya’s focus has always been on political art, exploring the history of the USSR, and current Russian War crimes. She relocated to London due to the suffocating political climates in her country and found herself passionate about presenting narratives of freedom and justice to play her part in calling for solidarity and effecting change. She is currently studying MFA Advanced Theatre Practice at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. With a combined skill set in producing, directing, scriptwriting and filmmaking, she is interested in creating truthful and multidisciplinary work. Anya has been active in both theatre and film productions, including projects with the Museum of GULAG, RIJA FILMS Studia, directing a documentary animation “Birthday Story”, and has written, translated and directed a theatre piece The Heart. Anya presented her collaborative London debut piece “Rooms Left Behind”, a theatrical installation about the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and Hong Kong protests with Amy Sze at LIFT Festival on 25 June 2022, as part of the UPLIFTERS program.