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worldwide Ukrainian play readings

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The Worldwide Ukrainian Play Readings is a global initiative launched by John Freedman in the wake of Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Soon after the war began, Freedman began organizing the translation of new works by Ukrainian playwrights, many of which provided first hand narratives of the invasion. CITD worked in tandem with John as he recruited, encouraged, and aided hundreds of theatres around the world to mount readings of the plays. CITD was especially instrumental in working with Maksym Kurochkin’s Theater of Playwrights in Kyiv.

The readings have multiple purposes, functioning both as a platform for exploring Ukrainian national identity and resilience, as a rallying cry of international support for Ukraine, and, specifically, an avenue to collecting donations for Ukrainian charities. Theatres and artists across the US, Ukraine, Europe, and the UK have risen to the call, with over 580 events happening worldwide (as of early May 2024). It is a major stipulation of the program that every non-commercial event serve as a fundraising opportunity. While it is impossible to know exactly how much money has been raised collectively over the two+ years of the program’s life, the amount easily exceeds half a million dollars in aid for Ukrainian charities and initiatives.

CITD has provided crucial support to dozens of Ukrainian playwrights, many of whom are actively involved in resisting the Russian invasion or have been displaced from their homes, and are seeking refuge abroad. This support includes commissioning approximately 30 new texts, and providing $1,000 grants to 30 individual writers. CITD fully funded a major initiative of the Theater of Playwrights in late 2022, providing full financial support for a festival-competition in search of new directors who could work with contemporary Ukrainian texts. The success of the competition surpassed everyone’s expectations, and many of the barebones sketches created for the competition were subsequently worked into full productions, several of which remain in repertory at the theater. Many of the short plays originally commissioned by CITD were compiled in an anthology, A Dictionary in the Time of Emotions, curated by Freedman and available through Laertes Press.

As the initiative progresses, the database of texts continues to expand, offering theaters worldwide a rich resource to engage with and stage productions that amplify Ukrainian voices and narratives. To date, the database includes:

311

texts Translated into 12 languages.

40

participating countries

571

events around the world

these events have raised over

$500,000

for ukrainian charities & initiatives

join the project

If you'd like to organize a reading, including a fundraising event, please contact John Freedman.

donate to citd

Support CITD’s work in Ukraine by clicking the above icon to make a donation via PayPal. Your support makes a difference.

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Maksym Kurochkin


Playwright, screenwriter, founding Artistic Director of the Theater of Playwrights in Kyiv

“This act of solidarity is very important for all of us. Thanks to this, we were able to solve a lot of issues, help not only playwrights, but also our directors in the defense, administrators who left their homes, colleagues in occupied Kherson. And for all of us now it’s not just money, but simply salvation and incredible support.”

Julia Gonchar

Playwright and international project manager
Her plays have been produced in over half a dozen countries

"We dare to live in Ukraine. The theater is our home, our meeting place, and our support. If Russia wins, it will be an untold tragedy for the entire world."

Natalka Vorozhbyt

Oscar-nominated director and playwright, author of the international hit “Bad Roads”

"...It is getting harder and harder to shout across the ocean from Ukraine about the war, about our pain. But we are seeking ways to be heard. One way is very effective and fast – theater. Just a few days might pass between the creation of a dramatic text and its theatrical presentation. And then you will briefly find yourself in our shoes when you hear it performed onstage, and you will have an opportunity to understand us. Understanding is the first step to support."

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