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Ilana Shevchenko, actress

“I have been performing on stage at the theater for 20 years. When people congratulated me on the Merited (Performing) Artist of Ukraine, my friend and I were on the beach in Israel and thought it was a joke or prank because everyone began calling me. Nothing has changed since then except the responsibility before entering the stage. Everything is not to hear after the performance “Oh my God! How bad she acts, and she is the merited Artist!” from a random woman. I treat honorary titles skeptically as you can be a good actor without any titles and be a bad actor having 22 awards at the same time.

It’s turned out that I started acting at the Theater of Russian Drama while studying. That’s fate. The art director of the Theater and my professor Mykhailo Reznykovych offered my classmate and me to work at his Theater.

Nowadays, the theater is my home away from home. You are here when you fill bad and when you feel good. You go through all ups and downs here.

We all are a part of one immense collective creativity. At a play from 10 to 30 people can be involved and no one is allowed not to come. It’s easier to jump into a project, gather, rehearse, make money, scatter, and then move to another project. It’s much more complicated to work at the Academic Repertory Theater, where we come in almost every day and work a lot. Each month I act at 7-12 plays. During all my working time, I have been involved in up to 20 plays. My longest role is at the play “Minister’s Wife,” where I have performed since 2001. For 19 years, the costume has decayed, we’ve patched it up, and many pairs of shoes have been worn down. You can wake me up at night, and I’ll recall any of my roles. They are deep into my mind.

Our main hall has 734 seats. But even if the audience of 2 people comes, we’ll act a play. That’s the rule. But I like it very much when there are a few spectators. In this case, they behave calmer and watch more attentively. Less is better, all the same better. But it is not always the same. Sometimes you win the audience goodwill, and sometimes, energy exchange doesn’t happen.

In my opinion, a theater for the city is a cultural face. It’s a lectern that asks the audience and sometimes gives an answer and sometimes — not.

At the lectern, you can see the image of an experienced professor in glasses with a noble face and aristocratic manners. Theater makes take thought. People thank for the raised topics after the play very often. They are close to the audience. People live through similar situations. In Lviv, after a play about suicide, a girl came and thanked me. She said that once she had made the right decision and hadn’t done wrong to herself.

For these years of my acting, the audience has gotten younger, and the distance between a viewer and an actor has become shorter. People often find you on social networks and want to friend, but it does not always have good energy. Nowadays, the big problem is still mobile phones that the audience doesn’t mute during a play. Sometimes people look at phones and even can talk on the phone. They behave so that we cannot hear them and forget that alive people are acting on the stage in front of them. I’m dreaming of the device blocking all mobile signals. I want a spectator to read what a play is about before watching, and ideally, the audience should go through a work.

If a play doesn’t appeal to you, it’s more honest with an actor and yourself to leave. For what reason to sigh and comment dissatisfied? You may go and don’t waste your time on that. The theater is not an entertainment movie, don’t wait for being courted.

I have lived in Kyiv since I was 5. Firstly it was Stara Darnytsya, then Nova Darnytsya. Kyiv of my childhood is associated with chestnuts and ice cream. In my childhood, there were cafeterias, where we often went with my father, and he bought a glass of juice and ice cream for me. The city has its face despite the spontaneous housing. Although Kyiv appears to be noisy for those from small towns, I feel good here. Kyiv is a cozy city. It has its vibe, citizens, and old architecture. I have a lot of favorite places here. I often come up to Bergone for coffee. I can work at Squat 17 B on Tereshchenkivska street. Earlier, there was also already closed legendary Chashka on Besarabska square. I like coming up to Yaroslava for pastries where nothing has changed from my student years. And all the theatres are on a patch of Teatralna Station: upper is the Kyiv Opera, lower is the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theater, on Prorizna street is the Kyiv National Academic Molodyy Theatre, and down the city is the Kyiv Academic Drama Theatre on Podol. Everything is located close, and that’s intimate and soulful.

Ilana Shevchenko, actress


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