The Theatre as a Factor of the Revival of Ukrainian Culture in the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921
Authors: Myshchak Ivan
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Ukrainian revolution of 1917-1921 has been a period of unprecedented rise of national consciousness of Ukrainian people as well as an
example of the struggle for independence of Ukraine. One of the effective means of supporting and developing of national consciousness was
the theater, which in the early twentieth century has acquired the new national content.
The revolutionary events of the spring of 1917 were marked by the first appearance of numerous Ukrainian national-cultural centers. At
the same time theatrical figures immediately expressed the need for the formation of professional theater organization. Because of their
efforts in the April 24, 1917, the Committee of Ukrainian national theater was established. Wasting no time, the Committee of Ukrainian
national theater began consultations with experts and proceeded to develop the organizational and administrative documents. According to
the program of the Committee for 1917-1918 the main task was to improve the level of development of Ukrainian theater to the European
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level, creating a network of workers'and peasants' theaters.
The most important obstacle on the way of the development of Ukrainian theater was the lack of professional directors. To solve it the
instructional courses for the directors were prepared; in the program of the courses were included lectures on the history of European and
Ukrainian theater, the analysis of drama, history, culture, psychology and aesthetics, as well as a number of special disciplines, which included
the construction of a stage, decorative art, stage effects, the technology of the director’s work and so on. On the initiative of Ukrainian
theatrical figures of the Central Council founded the drama school in Kiev with a 2-year program of study. Unfortunately, it has never fully
The lack of stationary Ukrainian theater even in regional cities of Ukraine was felt. During the revolution these theaters were only in Kiev.
It is worth noting, that the state took care more or less fully only of the National Drama Theater. Other Ukrainian theaters had to practically
«survive», relying only on the support of Ukrainian public organizations and their own funds. During that time the key to successful
operation was performances made by talented directors and play of actors who were admired even in other nationalities and among critics
who are not very sympathetic to the Ukrainian theater. A particular innovation was distinguished by the «Young theater», which for the first
time in Ukraine laid strong foundations of directing.
The importance of the theater for the national and cultural development in rural areas is particularly worth noting. Theatrical groups
and workshops of a great popularity appeared in almost every village. The main problem in the activity of popular theaters, as well as
professional ones, was the lack of funds that were essential for making props and costumes. They were partly solved by the support of
concerned citizens and national cultural organizations, the top spot among which belonged to the «Enlightenment».
It should be noted that Ukrainian theater life in Odessa prospered. It happened thanks to the efforts of a powerful local theater
community and supporting artists from all over Ukraine. In Odessa, on the initiative of the local drama section of Ukrainian Art Society
named by Zankovetska in 1918 the second (after Kyiv) Ukrainian drama school was opened. As the organizers emphasized, the serious
importance of Ukrainian theater school was in the fact that it raises the level of the attraction for outstanding fans of native art, which until
then were massively on the Russian scene.
People's initiatives to support and development of Ukrainian theater sprang spontaneously in many cities. Thus, the public minded
citizens of Poltava actively advocated for the creation of public theaters, seeing an obstacle for the development of Ukrainian national culture
in private ones. The fact that all Ukrainian theaters were not only putting performances in Ukrainian, but also tried to make them available,
and provided tickets to spectators for free, had a great impact on the revival and spread of Ukrainian culture. Thereby Ukrainian Theater of
1917-1921 was an important factor in the revival of Ukrainian culture and largely contributed to the spread of Ukrainian revolutionary