Hania’s Baba has a secret. A secret she’s bringing with her to her grave.
Since moving into the Long-Term Care Centre, her grandmother has been restless. Agitated. Something from her past is haunting her. She urges Hania to return to their Ukrainian homeland to seek out a missing piece of their family history.
Hania’s search for answers brings her to the edge of the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine. Here she meets the people and sees the places touched by war, and finally confronts the truths of her Baba’s past. Barvinok tells a personal story of war and trauma that spans generations.
The play is inspired by the experiences of the playwright’s grandparents who fled Ukraine during WWII, and the true accounts of people interviewed in conflict zones in Eastern Ukraine. Raising awareness of the ongoing war, Barvinok depicts the struggles of the Ukrainian people against the atrocities of Stalin to the horrors of Hitler, while drawing disturbing parallels to the current Putin regime.
Inspired by personal accounts from war-torn Ukraine in 1944 and true stories from the country’s current conflict. Barvinok gives voice to the people whose lives have been affected by the froze conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Europe’s current “forgotten war,” where current Russian aggression has killed more than 10,000 people, and displaced millions.
Hania (late 20s) – A granddaughter. Second generation Ukrainian Canadian.
Kateryna (late 20s) – Exists in 1944. Later Hania’s grandmother. An immigrant. Born, raised in Ukraine. Emigrated during WWII.
*Hania and Kateryna are played by the same performer.
Yelena (late 20s-30s) – Fatigued, resilient. An internally displaced person in Eastern Ukraine. Has a young daughter.
Pavlo (29) – Passionate, political. A veteran of the Donetsk Battalion. Served May – July, 2014. Wounded at the end of his service. Nom de guerre: Babay.
Katya (late-20s) – Natasha’s older sister. Maternal figure to Natasha. Optimistic. A school teacher. Now living in a family cottage touched by war.
Natasha (early-20s) –Katya’s younger sister. Guarded, resentful, just wants to live her life.
Misha (26) – Charismatic, enigmatic. A soldier in the Donetsk Battalion. Enjoys his cognac. Nom de guerre: Landscape Ape.
First produced by Pyretic Productions in association with Punctuate! Theatre, March 2019, Tarragon Theatre Extra Space, Toronto, ON.
Barvinok is available through the Canadian Play Outlet.
To view more plays like this, click here.
Live Ukrainian folk music is integrated into the script in Act One, but could be adapted without.
In the original productions, all performers are integrated throughout the first act as a movement chorus, but could be adapted without.
Barvinok is a lovely and moving story about family history, immigration, and the impact of war on civilians, that seamlessly weaves together and draws parallels from past to present, and country to country. Not only does this play tell a beautiful personal story of a grandaughter searching for the truth of her grandmother's past, it also brings to light the conflict and atrocities of the Russo-Ukrainian war, that is still ongoing today. Each character in this show offers actors a great opportunity for exploration and research, while also encouraging strong ensemble based work.