“Every Night I Dream of Kyiv”
Three sisters, yearning for their life in the big city. Three old women trying to stop the clock. Three women driven from the paradise of their childhood. Time and war have taken everything from them. No airlines travel to the world they left behind. You can only get there on board your own fallible memory.
Luk Perceval, a Belgian director, one of the most important figures in contemporary theatre, has made his first play in Poland, in a co-production between TR Warszawa and the National Stary Theatre. Based on motifs from Anton Chekhov’s drama, “3SISTERS” is a portrait of an aging Europe that does not wish to succumb to the passing of time. The routine of the titular protagonists’ everyday life is broken by an attempt to summon up events from the past. The metaphorical care home of an aging Europe confronts the new energy of immigrants. What comes of this meeting? What are the political and social consequences of whole societies getting older? How do we cope with old age, memory loss, an idealized past?
The theme of the passing of time so often found in Chekhov’s dramas has never been so pressing as it is now, with the old world order tumbling down and the new one not yet formed. The pandemic has added another aspect to the issue of aging: the isolation of elderly people. And the war has added the theme of life as a refugee. The Prozorov sisters are castaways in time, shut up in an island of memory. They live in the past, incapable of confronting the present. What do the protagonists fear, what do they miss? What do we ourselves fear and miss?
To express their opposition to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the cast of “3SISTERS” and the director, Luk Perceval, have decided to alter Anton Chekhov’s drama performed at the TR Warszawa and the National Stary Theatre in Krakow. Instead of Moscow, the protagonists will remember Kyiv, a symbol of a paradise lost, ravaged by the war. “We are changing the most important lines in the most important drama by Russia’s most famous playwright to stress the importance of solidarity with the Ukrainian society. Today, we’re all Ukrainian men and women,” they wrote in a statement published on day fourteen of the war in Ukraine.
In the original, the lingering decay concerns the existence of specific people, as well as a fading (…) social class—the Russian nobility; in Perceval it becomes a mechanism for replaying the same script over and over from a dying memory, a cultural model, looking into it, and also at oneself, for with no cultural model there is no “us” either. So everyone plays before a huge mirror, which is the biggest part of the set, but also invisible (…). Yet the mirror can blur the reality on stage, and suddenly reminds us of its presence when it shakes to the rhythm of the compelling music (…).
Witold Mrozek, Gazeta Wyborcza
A play for adult viewers.
Awards and guest appearances:
2022 – Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Romania
2021 – 29th Divadlo Theatre Festival, Pilzno
2021 – Konrad Swinarski Award for the 2020/21 season – to Luk Perceval for directing the play
2021 – 10th International Dialog International Theatre Festival, Wrocław
2021 – 27th International Festival of Pleasant and Unpleasant Plays, Łódź – best play, best female actor for Oxana Cherkashina
2021 – 14th International Divine Comedy Theatre Festival, Krakow (non-competition)