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.
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 artistic director, Maria Montague, present the 2018 production of Maklena.
(Video produced by Nicola Roper)