When Breanne Oryschak was writing her play Yes, Tak; or, Notes at the end of the Orange Revolution, she had no idea how relevant it would be when she brought it to the stage in 2014. Today, as the world watches Ukraine fall deeper into political and social turmoil, a play about a young Ukrainian Canadian graduate student teaching in Ukraine in 2007 strikes many familiar chords.
“The timing is pure coincidence. I didn’t know when I was writing it, that the play would be so prescient,” says Oryschak.
Breanne Oryschak is a Kingston-based writer, dancer and director. After receiving a Ph.D. in English from Queen’s, she began writing plays and participating in several production groups in Alberta and in Kingston. She’s currently a member of Sway Collective, a network of visual artists, musicians, composers, and theatre professionals who collaborate on interdisciplinary dramatic performances.
Yes, Tak is Oryschak’s most personal play to date, and admits the lead character, Christina “is loosely based on my own life.” A Ukrainian Canadian, Oryschak is watching the events unfold in Ukraine with deep concern.
Christina Bodnar, the play’s protagonist is a young and naïve woman who soon comes to realize that the Ukraine she thought she knew bears little resemblance to the country she’s visiting. Discovering that post-Orange Revolution Ukraine is the not the “old country” of her cultural classes, she encounters a youth culture at once hopeful of a democratic future and deflated by recent revolutionary failures.
The play demonstrates that Ukraine is a country full of complexity and contradictions. Through the eyes of young Christina, the street-smart and slightly cynical Roman, the traditional-versus-progressive-conflicted Katya, and the intelligent and arrogant Richard, the audience gets a glimpse of the deep and complex issues that Ukraine continues to face. Its seemingly unseverable ties with Russia, its sectarian differences, along with its rich history and culture – nineteenth century exiled poet Taras Shevchenko plays a key role in the production – make it difficult to come to a simple and peaceful solution. Incorporating an original musical score, choreography, and multimedia, this performance dramatizes Christina’s navigation of cultural differences, folkloric grief, and budding relationships in a fractured Ukraine.
The play provides a view into Ukraine and allows for an understanding of the country that could never be gained by listening to sound bites on the nightly news. Ukraine is complicated. Its problems cannot and will not be easily solved by use of military force or by piling on more sanctions. At the heart of every conflict are broken relationships and if the play tells us anything, it’s that relationships can only be fixed through communication, understanding and compassion.
Yes, Tak features actors Liz Buchannan, Paul Dyck, Richard Albin, and Amanda Balsys, and cellist, Laura Murray. Music director is Ashley Vanstone, set designer is Janna-Marynn Brunnen and producer is Claire Grady-Smith.
The play is showing at the Baby Grand Theatre from April 24 – 26. Please check here for performance times.
Submitted to Kingstonist’s Community Soapbox by Kingston Arts Council writer Anita Jansman.