‘Crimea 5am’ — stories of Crimean political prisoners will be heard in London

Crimea 5аm is a documentary performance, drawing on the literary work of Ukrainian authors Natalia Vorozhbyt and Anastasiia Kosodii, and directed by Josephine Burton.
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Through personal stories and testimonies of love and struggle in Crimea today, the play focuses on the record of human rights violations in the Crimean Peninsula since the unlawful Russian temporary occupation. Since 2014, civil activists and in particular representatives of the indigenous people of the Crimean peninsula, Crimean Tatars, have been persecuted by Russian occupying forces.

Combining victim and activist interviews, stories of 11 political prisoners and their families, Crimea, 5am recasts vital issues of justice and cultural liberty. This moving verbatim play, drawn from interviews and testimony, tells this story largely through a female perspective. We hear from the wives of the political prisoners, of their lives, friendships and love affairs, and particularly the extraordinary way that they have kept their households together, drawing comfort and support from their tight-knit female community and how they have been empowered and changed through the experience.

This one-night-only performance is part of the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute’ UK/Ukraine Season of Culture, is produced by Dash Arts, supported in kind by Kiln Theatre. The original production of Crimea, 5аm was initiated by the Ukrainian Institute and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine as part of the Crimea Platform. The original performance was directed by Dmytro Kostiumynskyi and produced by Dollmen.

A cast of performers including Laura Hanna (The Globe, Almeida, Royal Court), Laila Alj (The Globe, RSC), and Waleed Elgadi (RSC, BBC, Netflix), and activists and journalists including writer and Byline Times co-founder and editor Peter Jukes, Ukrainian journalist and campaigner Maria Romanenko, and Byline writer and former UK diplomat and Ambassador Alexandra Hall, will stage a reading of Crimea 5am in the UK at Kiln Cinema, followed by a post-show chat co-hosted by Martin Bright, Editor-at-Large at Index on Censorship (speakers to be announced shortly).
Director Josephine Burton is an artist and director of over 80 new pieces of award-winning cross art-form work nationally and internationally over the last 18 years. 2022 highlights include Dido’s Bar co-produced with The Royal Docks Team and Oxford Contemporary Music, the Great Middlemarch Mystery, part of Coventry City of Culture and the international Songs for Babyn Yar, enabled through the Goethe Institute and the Ukrainian Institute. She is co-founder and Artistic Director of Dash Arts, a music adviser for PRS Foundation and a professional vocalist.

Natalia Vorozhbyt is a Ukrainian playwright and screenwriter based in Kyiv (Ukraine). Her plays have been performed in Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, the UK, Germany and the USA and translated into nine languages. In 2017, her play Bad Roads premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, which, like Monologue No.1 – a play that premiered in Kyiv in 2015 – focuses on the Russian aggression, particularly the impact of the war on women. Bad Roads also became Natalya’s debut feature film, which in 2021 was Ukraine’s entry for Oscar nomination.

Anastasiia Kosodii is a playwright and director based in Kyiv (Ukraine). Her plays have been read and performed in theatres across Ukraine and Europe. As a playwright and cultural manager, she works regularly with NGOs in Eastern Ukraine in towns on the front line. Kosodii started her career as co-founder of theatre Zaporizhzhian new drama in her hometown Zaporizhzhia. In 2017 Anastasiia became a member of the project Krieg im Frieden (Berlin). Later, she became a chief playwright in the PostPlay theatre in Kyiv. Anastasiia was one of playwrights of the City To Go project, produced in three cities of Donetsk and Luhansk region (Bakhmut, Popasna, Mykolaivka) with kids in local schools.

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