Panelka: a Ukrainian project

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Kyiv artist Dasha Podoltseva (above) is initiating positive conversations in a Ukrainian/UK collaboration in St Leonards

Panelka opens in St Leonards from August 10 and is a Ukraine/UK collaborative performance project offering enriching stories of every day life.

This summer production at the ExploreTheArch theatre company’s venue, Archer Lodge in St Leonards-on-Sea, is a heart-warming, lively exploration of homes. A cacophony of gentle sounds osmose the semi-permeable membrane of apartment walls: children learning to play the piano, morning routine clatter and night-time toilet flushes. The smell of family dinners is vigorous; views from the windows offer striking patterns.

Panelka is a collaboration with Ukrainian art initiative, Seria project, and ExploretheArch, the UK’s experiential theatre company exploring the theatre of domestic life.

The narrative is built around Kyiv artist Dasha Podoltseva’s endearing personal experience of growing up in the prefab architecture that is home to over half the population in Ukraine. Dasha explores the history of this modernist architecture (of which tower block Panelka is one example) through her personal stories and shares her artistic response to the buildings’ patterns that pervade her art practice. In the performance, the audience sits within her images created with colleague Elena Orap, currently temporarily residing in Zurich.

This collaboration features an exquisite new score played live by Hastings composer-musician, Sam Brown. The production is an engagement with Ukraine that acknowledges and looks to to address the fatigue of constantly viewing distressing images of bombed out shells of buildings in worldwide media coverage of the protracted Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I love the beauty and delicate nature of Sam’s composition weaving through my visual responses to Brutalist architecture,” Dasha muses. “My work is about traces of ideas and thoughts within this architecture.”

Dasha and her children relocated to London in March 2022 and are now back in Kyiv with her parents who didn’t want to leave their home.

“I don’t want my identity to be that of a victim of war,” Dasha continues. “I am invigorated by imaginative conversations about how domestic life will be reshaped after the war. It’s an honour to have the opportunity to focus on that. I wish to share these thoughts with the Panelka audience in an exchange of ideas.”

“Considering pre- and post-war domestic life in Ukraine,” director Gail Borrow explains, “Panelka is a positive meeting of minds. It is a space in which we can explore how ongoing reporting of violence erodes our ability to engage with world events that we want to be acknowledging and people we want to show solidarity with. I’m interested to find out how it might shore up personal resilience through the foregrounding of a personal, relatable sharing of experience.”

Sound production by Frank Moon and set engineering by PoorlyBeetle.

Tickets: £15+ booking fee: eventbrite booking through explorethearch.com/panelka
To book accompanying free tickets for under 19s, email explorers@explorethearch.com
Duration: 1 hr
TImes: at 5pm on 13 &14 Aug only, and at 7pm from 10-17 Aug.
Venue: explorethearch.com/find

Image Credits: Gail Borrow .

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