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Earth-Song, a unique theatre performance for Ukraine
Earth-Song, a unique theatre performance for Ukraine

Mon, 29 Aug


Dartington Hall

Earth-Song, a unique theatre performance for Ukraine

Earth-Song is a special type of theatrical performance where the main actor is Ukrainian Song. A benefit performance by Lviv's Word and Voice Theatre Centre.

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Time & Location

29 Aug 2022, 19:30 – 21:00

Dartington Hall, Dartington Hall, Totnes TQ9, UK

About the event

‘How rarely can you hear a live song now! Live - from a living source; from this person in this time and space. Today, a person loves, breathes, gives birth in the same way as a thousand years ago. And the song preserves and enlivens in a person exactly what makes them a human. It is through this act of singing here and now that the human, as Taras Shevchenko said, ‘comes to life again and laughs again’. And together we share in that.’ - Nataliia Polovynka

Earth-Song is a special type of theatrical performance where the main actor is Ukrainian Song. For Word and Voice Theatre Centre traditional and ancient songs are receptacles of the deepest knowledge and an expression of the highest poetry. They are the holders of tradition, the keepers of how humans and the land have lived together for centuries. Within song, the mystery of Being is preserved, our ancestors stand behind us, supporting us through the journey between Birth and Death. With this performance we ask ourselves and the audience: Whose voices sing through us?

Earth-Song grew naturally out of Nataliia Polovynka’s decades of work preserving Ukraine’s cultural heritage in the form of songs, rituals, and other performative material. In 2010 she founded Word and Voice Theatre Centre in order to place these traditional songs and cultural material in conversation with contemporary aesthetics and devise new theatrical forms. In such a way, the work of the centre not only preserves the cultural heritage but ensures it continues to live.

Since the end of February 2022, Word and Voice has also been operating as a shelter for displaced Ukrainians and victims of war, collecting funds to purchase and supply journalists and hospitals with the necessary equipment, and organizing regular cultural and relief events for the many new residents of Lviv. As the war continues to drain the country’s resources, the work of Word and Voice becomes increasingly harder and the theatre’s future is precarious.

That work has always been rooted in the traditional techniques held within the ancient spiritual songs of Ukraine. This presentation of Earth-Song is a special one, encouraged by Dartington, and part of the larger prayer for peace and continuation of the Ukrainian way of life.

All proceeds will go to Word and Voice, and the Devon Ukrainian Association, an Exeter-based group that has been supporting new Ukrainian arrivals in the Southwest since March.

Maketank, Word and Voice and the Devon Ukrainian Association would like to express their sincere gratitude to Dartington for their generosity in hosting this performance and their solidarity in the fight for Ukrainian independence and essential right to life.

To further support the work of Word and Voice as well as the Devon Ukrainian Association, please consider donating to:


Director: Nataliia Polovynka

Costumes: Petro Nesterenko-Lanko


Nataliia Polovynka

Solomiia Kyrylova

Mariia Kmit

Duration: 1 hour 15 min

Artistic director Word and Voice: Nataliia Polovynka, winner of the Shevchenko National Prize and Honoured Artist of Ukraine

Nataliia Polovynka is a singer, stage and screen actress, pedagogue, and founder of the Word and Voice theatre centre in Lviv. She studied music at the Lysenko State Conservatory in Lviv (under Prof. Tarnavetska) and theatre with Jerzy Grotowski at his and Thomas Richards’ Workcenter in Pontedera, Italy, as well as from directors KLIM and Sergii Kovalevych. Nataliia performs ancient spiritual songs, traditional songs, romances, classical music and contemporary academic music. She has created many projects at the intersection of theatre and music. Having developed an original vocal methodology, she has conducted voice and singing work sessions internationally, including at Yale University (USA) and Aberystwyth University (Wales, U.K.). She was also a core teacher at the ‘Atelier’, an educational project implemented by the Grotowski Institute in 2007 and 2008. Previously, Polovynka has been actress and music director of the Les Kurbas Theatre in Lviv [1988-2006], and artistic director of Maisternia Pisni (Song Workshop) [2003-2010]. In 2010, she established the Word and Voice Theatre Research and Art Education Centre in Lviv. Nataliia is the recipient of the Shevchenko National Prize as well as many awards and honours at international theatre and film festivals, including the Silver George Award for Best Actress in Brothers. The Last Confession (dir. Victoria Trofimenko, 2013). In 2021-22, she was awarded Best Actress prizes at six prestigious international film festivals in the US, Canada, Italy, France, Poland and Ukraine for role in the film Mother of Apostles (dir. Zaza Buadze, 2020) based on the real events of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Word and Voice Theatre Centre arose from the need to create a School of Living Tradition, based in Ukraine, on the principles of modern theatre but rooted in the practice of understanding and applying the laws and technologies of tradition. In this way, it was founded on the following interacting principles: School – Artistic Research – Theatre, which were in turn based on an earlier trinity: Tradition – Song – Theatre.

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