SCENE BUFFER – quasi-declarative opera

concept, musical setting: Andrii Merkhel
electronics: Tetiana Khoroshun
video: Kateryna Berlova, Alina Yakubenko
vj: Ihor Nikolenko
cast: Kateryna Kisten, Andrii Koshman, Oleksandr Goncharenko (Chechulin), Olga Kebas
lira: Ihor Martynenko
piano: Igor Riabov

On the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Theater Institute opens its stage to creators who, sharing the refugee fate of hundreds of thousands of their compatriots, continue to co-create Ukrainian culture. They add new, war-related “updates” to its contexts, seeking new means of artistic expression.

Since February 24, 2022, Ukrainian culture has begun to be present in the social space of Western European countries. However, in the conditions of the criminal war unleashed by Russia, an attempt to understand Ukrainian culture solely through “traditional art” or “trauma art” is not enough.

Composer and director Andrii Merkhel, along with the project’s invited creators, undertake the task of creating a timeless, inter-territorial zone, separating the artistic reality from before the apocalypse and preparing a place for the emergence of a new, post-war theater. This “scene buffer” is still unfinished, silent. Through practical work on words, images, and music, the artists creating the quasi-opera attempt to recognize the phenomenon of an empty stage, to explore the crisis of culture in the context of ubiquitous evidence of catastrophe.

Does art have the power, the right, and the chance to find itself in a reality of the end of the world, the crisis of humanity, and the wartime annihilation of the normal world? Can the shape of culture that will emerge after the apocalypse be predicted? The creators of the performance try to find the answer in the essence of scenic action itself, in the process of communication between actors, musicians, and the audience.

The premiere of the performance took place on December 20, 2023, at the New Theater in Poznań.

The performance was created as part of the third edition of the Theater Institute’s Artistic Residencies for creators from Belarus and Ukraine.
Event partners: National Institute of Music and Dance, Tadeusz Łomnicki New Theater in Poznań.

Due to the high interest in the event, the rehearsal on February 23 at 6:00 p.m. will be open to the public (reservation of free tickets required).

Andrii Merkhel is a graduate of the workshop of Jewhen Stankovych at the Ukrainian National Academy of Music in Kyiv. He is engaged in music and art in a wide range; he is a composer, director, curator of artistic projects, author of numerous symphonic and chamber works, and music for theatrical performances. Merkhel is a co-founder and artistic director of the “Sed Contra Ensemble” group, the multicultural platform “Ars Teteriv Stage”, the president of the Association “Center of Cross-Art Communications”, a co-curator of the Music and Theater Laboratory “Sound.Voice.Silence”. He has participated in many international music festivals, was a scholarship holder of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage program “Gaude Polonia” (2014, 2018), a laureate of the Lewko Rewucki Award (2019), a laureate of the President of Ukraine Grant (2019).