We are currently developing our production of Maklena by the Ukrainian playwright Mykola Kulish, translated into English for the first time by Maria Montague.

Maklena tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who fixates on a fairy-tale vision of the Soviet Union. Communist propaganda, magical geese and her family's bleak reality become blurred in her imagination, and Maklena’s dream of joining the revolution takes her down a dangerous path.

Following the premiere of Maklena as an abridged version at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017, we have expanded the play into a full-length piece and toured it in the UK in July 2018. We are now excited to put it on again in 2019.




Discover the history of Maklena, including a summary of the play and its background.


Read about our production of Maklena and our future plans for the show.


the translation

Learn more about the first-ever English translation of Maklena.

the team

Meet the company of Maklena !


stories behind maklena

Find out more about Kulish's play by watching Night Train's mini-series. 

the play

For 13-year-old Maklena, the Soviet Union is the best fairy tale yet. Her family faces dire poverty in 1930s Poland, and Maklena dreams of a better life across the border in the USSR. She fixates on communist propaganda and longs to join the revolutionaries.

Her landlord, Zbrozhek, has a different ambition: to buy the local factory and see his name in golden letters. But when the banks crash, both characters descend into a dangerous fantasy world. Their dreams come under threat and communist and capitalist ideals are taken to the extreme.

Maklena Grasa was the final major work by Mykola Kulish before his execution by the Soviet authorities. In September 1933, the play was performed at gunpoint before a crowd of secret service agents and the Politburo of Soviet Ukraine. Maklena was subsequently banned; Kulish was later declared a ‘bourgeois-nationalist' playwright and sent to a forced labour camp before being executed in 1937.


The play is steeped in history, yet our production underscores its contemporary relevance. One of the reviewers of our 2017 production wrote that Maklena is ‘no less relevant today than it was in 1930s Ukraine’. Such questions as the place of ideology in society, what we should believe in, and when ideology becomes dangerous remain poignant in present-day politics worldwide.

Watch our director, Maria Montague, present the 2018 production of Maklena.

(Video produced by Nicola Roper)

the translation

Night Train is extremely proud to present Maria Montague’s translation of Maklena and bring this play to life for the first time in English. Maria translated Maklena whilst studying for her Master’s in Ukrainian Studies at Cambridge University. She worked closely with Marta Jenkala (Senior Teaching Fellow in Ukrainian at Cambridge and UCL) on the translation, and Marta has been at the heart of this project from the very beginning!

We are now looking to publish the English translation of Maklena, and we are excited for more people to discover Kulish’s masterpiece in English.


praise for the translation

‘Every line of [Maria Montague’s] stunning translation exudes poetry. The script feels classic, yet in many ways it is no less relevant today than it was in 1930s Ukraine.’ Kate Plummer, EdFringe Review 

‘The translation has produced a lively script that flows easily, peppered with occasional verbatim Ukrainian idioms.’ Kate Saffin, Fringe Review


the maklena team


artistic TEAM


Maria translated Maklena and is the director for this production. Maria studied Ukrainian theatre for her Master's in Ukrainian Studies at the University of Cambridge. Maria has worked as the assistant director for the prominent directors Caroline Steinbeis (Edward II, Cambridge Arts Theatre, February 2017) and Nicholas Barter (Marlowe Showcase, Jermyn Street Theatre, November 2016). She has directed and choreographed many productions at the ADC Theatre and Corpus Playroom, including her own adaptation of Ionesco's The Bald Prima Donna. Maria also co-wrote the verbatim play The Summer Before Everything about the war in Ukraine, which was performed at the Cambridge Junction and the Oxford Playhouse Burton Taylor Studio as part of the Menagerie Hotbed Festival (July 2016).


Nikki Charlesworth - DESIGNER -

Nikki Charlesworth is a recent graduate of Theatre Design, studied at Nottingham Trent University. Throughout her studies she designed for JunkShop Theatre Company in their productions as part of the National Theatre’s Connections programme and was an Assistant Designer for Hubbub Theatre Company. Since graduating Nikki has worked as a Theatre Designer, Puppeteer and Puppet Maker. 
Her assistant design credits include: Assistant Designer on the UK tour of the Who’s Tommy by the New Wolsey in association with Ramps on the Moon and the UK tour of Reasons to be Cheerful by Graeae Theatre Company. 
Her design credits include: 'The Luckiest Girl Alive' a puppet show in association with City Arts, Nottingham and charity 28 Too Many. 'What Happened To You?' a self directed, semi autobiographical puppet show, with support from Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, and Puppet Design for 'Masha and the Firebird', by Sleepless Theatre Company. 

Nikki is absolutely thrilled to be working on Maklena, to be doing what she loves and to be adding to her design portfolio.




Previous productions include: Summer Holiday (Octagon Theatre); Così fan Tutte (Opera Holland Park); Lovely Ugly City (Almeida); 70 Års Opera (Danish National Opera); Edward II (Cambridge Arts Theatre); The Marriage of Figaro, Gianni Schicchi, Il Tabarro (English Touring Opera); Rigoletto, La Scala Di Seta, Riders to the Sea, Il Campanello, The Bear (Wexford Festival Opera); Dubliners (Opera Theatre Company, Ireland); Boat (Company Three); Betty Blue Eyes, L'incoronazione di Poppea (Trinity Laban); Tumble Tuck (King's Head Theatre); Der Freischütz (Blackheath Halls).

Future productions include: Dishoom! (UK Tour); Radamisto, Dido and Aeneas, Jonas, I will Not Speak (all English Touring Opera).



Lana Biba grew up between Ukraine and Sweden. She now works between Spain and the UK and is the movement director for this production of MAKLENA. She is an award-winning artist working in theatre and film, as well as with clown, mime, dance, mask and puppetry. One of Marcel Marceau’s last students, she is the co-founder of the London Physical Theatre school and teaches classes of Ensemble work, corporal Mime and Object manipulation at amongst other Stockholm University of Dramatic Arts. Her credits as a director include A Bit Lost (Scandinavia and UK tours) and productions with the company 2theatre, which she co-founded, such as Loosing It. She was the movement director for Knife of Dawn (opera at The Roundhouse London) and for The Point of no Return, a documentary piece of theatre based on the revolution in Ukraine. As an actor, Lana is enrolled with Cirque du Soleil and has toured with shows such as the award-winning solo show Ingrid, Soap The Show (lead, world-tour) and Once upon a Themes (West End).


Oliver Vibrans - COMPOSER

Oliver Vibrans is a composer and musical director. He composed the music for Night Train's first production of Maklena. He has worked with Graeae Theatre on Stepping Stones by Mike Kenny at Soho Theatre, Heart of Hearts and Act of Memory, a celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and many youth projects. He has worked with LipService theatre on Thrills & Quills, Mr Darcy Loses the Plot and Inspector Norse. Other credits include Edward II at Cambridge Arts Theatre and The Pitmen Painters at the New Vic Theatre. Oliver studied music at Cambridge University where he was the recipient of the Reinstein Prize for jazz with his ensemble the Four Legged Trio. His current work includes an original score for an adaptation of John Wyndham’s sci fi classic The Midwich Cuckoos for BBC Radio 4. Oliver will also be working on a site-specific outdoor theatre piece for Graeae at Greenwich docks in July next year. The production will also be touring. In an assistant musical directorial capacity, Oliver has worked on Ramps on the Moon’s production of The Who’s Tommy and The Threepenny Opera, a co-production with Graeae, West Yorkshire Playhouse, New Wolsey, Nottingham Playhouse and Birmingham Rep.


production TEAM


Saskia Baylis - PRODUCER

Saskia Baylis produced the original production of Maklena at the Edinburgh Fringe. She has produced several other shows at the ADC Theatre in Cambridge, as well as stage managing the Footlights International Tour Show 2017, and the European Theatre Group’s touring production of Hamlet.



Zak Ghazi-Torbati has produced two shows at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. He tour-managed the Cambridge Footlights International Tour 2017 and has produced at Jermyn Street Theatre, The Comedy Store and The Other Palace in London.



Website Illustrations - Alona Bach
Photo Editor - Johannes Hjorth
Video Editor - Nicola Roper
Website Designer - Léa des Garets



Alona Bach - MAKLENA

Alona Bach hails from the USA, where she has worked with theatres in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Previous credits include: Edward II (Edward III; dir. Caroline Steinbeis), Antigonick (Ismene, dir. Ianthe Demos), Bad Jews (Daphna), Arcadia (Thomasina), and Emilie…Defends Her Life Tonight (Emilie). Alona has trained with Atlantic Theatre Company (NYC), and holds a degree in History of Science and Dramatic Arts from Harvard and MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge. She is thrilled to return to the UK to work with Night Train and the Maklena team.

Matthew Coulton - ZBROZHEK   Matthew trained at RCSSD (BA Hons Acting: Collaborative and Devised Theatre). He has studied movement with Imogen Knight, clowning with John Wright, and trained with international artists such as Miklós Bács and Marcello Magni.  Recent Theatre: George's Marvellous Medicine (Leicester Curve/Rose Theatre UK tour), Rodin: Feet of Clay (British Museum), Tell Me The Truth About Love (Ship Shape Theatre), Father Christmas (Lyric Hammersmith/macBirmingham), The Mutant Man (The Space), The Winter's Tale (ENO), The Magic Flute (Complicité), This Might Be It and Boat (Theatre N16), Goosebumps Alive (The Vaults) and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan (Theatre by the Lake).  Matthew made his TV debut on Holby City and has recorded various voice overs for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service.

Matthew Coulton - ZBROZHEK

Matthew trained at RCSSD (BA Hons Acting: Collaborative and Devised Theatre). He has studied movement with Imogen Knight, clowning with John Wright, and trained with international artists such as Miklós Bács and Marcello Magni.

Recent Theatre: George's Marvellous Medicine (Leicester Curve/Rose Theatre UK tour), Rodin: Feet of Clay (British Museum), Tell Me The Truth About Love (Ship Shape Theatre), Father Christmas (Lyric Hammersmith/macBirmingham), The Mutant Man (The Space), The Winter's Tale (ENO), The Magic Flute (Complicité), This Might Be It and Boat (Theatre N16), Goosebumps Alive (The Vaults) and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan (Theatre by the Lake).

Matthew made his TV debut on Holby City and has recorded various voice overs for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service.

Eden Harbud - ZAREMBSKY

Eden Harbud is a professional theatre maker, performer & puppeteer, having toured his debut solo production ‘Burning Tails’ to events including Pulse Festival Ipswich, Sprint at Camden People’s Theatre & the Brighton Fringe. 

He is a co-founding producer of Fusion Theatre Festival Cambridge “Actively developing and nurturing young talent” (Arts Professional) this year presenting their 4th annual festival. Eden is also a founding performer of critically acclaimed company Temper Theatre (TRIBE, Terra Incognita) having recently toured internationally to Perú. “A world class feat of performance” - Broadway Baby ★★★★★ (TRIBE).

Emma-May Uden - ANELIA

Emma-May is a recent graduate of RCSSD, where she trained on the Acting BA hons (Collaborative and Devised Theatre) Course. In the last year she has worked as both a director and actor with The Female Gaze and as a movement director for Rat in the Box at The Courtyard Theatre. She has also been signed by UGLY models and done various small scale shoots through them. Before coming to London Emma-May worked with NYMT and also was part of the award winning feature film Solitary directed by Sasha Krane. 

Adam Mirsky - PADUR

Adam played Padur in the first performances of Maklena at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017, and has just graduated from Cambridge University where he studied English Literature. He has experience performing in a wide range of projects, from physical and devised shows at Cambridge’s ADC Theatre, to musicals, to performing Marlowe at the Cambridge Arts Theatre and touring Shakespeare across America. Adam is hugely excited to bring the full-length version of this fantastic translation of Kulish’s play to life. 

Léa des Garets  - ZBROZHEK'S WIFE

Léa des Garets worked as an actor as part of ‘’Les Ailes du Théâtre’’ company for seven years and has acted under the direction of Nadine Douriaud, playing the role of Aase (Peer Gynt, Kantor Theatre, Lyon, April 2014). She has worked with the prominent director Lisa Blair, playing the role of Katherine in Henry V (Cambridge Arts Theatre, February 2015) and has performed in productions such as Patience (Lady Angela, Minack Theatre, Cornwall, September 2017), Birdsong (Isabelle Azaire, ADC Theatre, May 2017), Foxfinder (Sarah Box, Judith E. Wilson studio, November 2016), The Vagina Monologues (ADC Theatre, December 2016) as well as playing Zbrozhek’s wife/Stefan Grasa in Maklena at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Maklena interviews

The team behind Maklena talks about the company and the production.

Maria Montague, (founding member of Night Train Theatre Company and director of Maklena) presents the 2018 production.


Léa des Garets (founding member of Night Train Theatre Company who will play Zbrozhek's wife in Maklena) introduces Night Train and talks about Maklena's relevance today


Lana Biba, the movement director for Maklena talks about her role in this project.




Adam Mirsky (who will play Padur in Maklena) talks about the play and why it has an important story to tell today.

Audience members and supporters share their thoughts about Night Train's project.


Ursula Woolley, Trustee of the Ukrainian Institute London shares her impressions of Maklena and why this 1933 Ukrainian play resonates with audiences today in the UK.


Andy Hunder, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine talks about Maklena and the cultural significance of the first English translation of Mykola Kulish’s play.


Jaroslava Barbieri speaks about why Maklena is a cultural treasure of Ukraine that is worth rediscovering and sharing with audiences outside Ukraine.


Dr Rory Finnin, Head of Slavonic Studies and Director of the Ukrainian Studies Programme at the University of Cambridge talks about why he is a proud supporter and partner of Maklena.

stories behind maklena

Music and sound: Oliver Vibrans
Illustrations: Alona Bach
Voice actors: Sue Ryding, Malcolm Raeburn
Script and research: Maria Montague
Research: Bohdan Tokarsky
Video editing: Oliver Vibrans


Listen to Maria Montague, director of Maklena and founding member of Night Train, talk about last year's production of the play at the Fringe:

maklena on tour

future performances 

Hotbed Theatre Festival at the Cambridge Junction 6-7 July 2018

Hills Road Sixth Form, 11 July 2018

The Undercroft, Peterborough, 14 July 2018

Camden People's Theatre, 17-21 July 2018

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bring maklena to your venue

Interested in hosting a performance of Maklena at your venue? Contact us at


Many thanks to our production sponsors:

Timothee Adam

Romain Becker

Nikolay Biba

Stanley Bill

Ollie Duff

Felix Duperrier

Estee Ellis

Rory Finnin

Xavier des Garets

Ian Gaunt

Hélène Goble

Roger Hillman

Dana Koval

Taras Kulish

Héloïse Lecomte

Iryna Marciuk

Ellie Mitchell

Ray Montague

Oliver Montague

Ronald Prokes

Margarita Smagina

Karen Thompson

Heather Uden

Artur Volosciuc

Susan Warner

Ursula Woolley

Ekaterina Zabolotnaya

and anonymous donors.