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Sofia, Vika, Mariyka, Misha…and other children enjoying the modern European theatres

© UNICEF/UKRAINE/2013/Y.Yurova
Children watching the performance

“Spectators from within”: vulnerable kids discovering modern theatre from Sweden and the United Kingdom.

This September for Ukrainian children began with the discovery of culture and arts through performances of theatres from Sweden (“MELO”, Stockholm) and the United Kingdom (“1927”, London).

These cultural events aimed to engage vulnerable children through interactive art, to both prove and raise awareness that all children have equal rights to physical and intellectual development. The events were organized by Master Klass, MELO Theatre, New Drama Theatre in Pechersk, British Council, Theatre “1927” and in partnership with UNICEF Ukraine and involvement of Charitable fund “Caritas”, Kyiv School #85.

SPÅRA, the performance by Swedish group MELO, presents an adventurous walk through tunnels, snow graffiti, footprints and wall-climbing dance. Barefoot through a landscape of carpets, children moved around the stage, discovering new perspectives and ways to take part in the experience. Together with MELO, the children created sounds, changed the stage of the theatre and left drawings, imprints, and traces on the wall.

1927, the London-based theatre group famous for their dark musical comedy called “The Animals and Children Took to the Streets” were also involved in the event. The musical, well-known for its detailed animation, engaged the children in their exciting performance through storytelling, live music, and theatrical movements.

Though the artistic performances and interaction with the children, the Swedish and Ukrainian actors succeeded to engage the vulnerable kids by inviting them to be a part of the joint production. Actors from MELO and New Drama Theatre in Pechersk, Ukraine created a special theatre game for children in which they found themselves in the midst of the piece, as "spectators from within". During the performance, children discovered new forms, colours and movements without using a word-based approach. Such interactive theatre gave children the opportunity to experience choreography, space and sounds as such, and without verbally telling the story.

One of the actors from MELO said, “I did not feel that these children are vulnerable. They are as open and friendly as any other children that we have worked with all around the world. The kids were shy and quiet at the beginning, but when they heard their voices saying their names (as a soundtrack of the performance) – they smiled and laughed – it broke the ice between all of us.

During the rest of the performance children were actively participating. Both actors and especially the kids enjoyed the friendly atmosphere a lot.” (The soundtrack with the kids’ voices can be heard here:

© UNICEF/UKRAINE/2013/Y.Yurova
Children could even participate in the performance

Education through the arts
This format of interactive children's theatre is quite new for Ukraine, but certainly has a great future. The vulnerable kids enjoyed it greatly, and will particularly remember being a part of the theatre performance rather than simply an observer in the auditorium. Difficult life circumstances or disabilities should not prevent children from the development of their artistic skills and enjoying different forms of culture.

Participating in the theatre productions with the Swedish and British groups allowed children to believe in themselves, and also to believe in their physical and intellectual abilities in cultural areas such as modern dance and theatre. Interactive children’s theatre has the potential to positively impact many children’s lives, as it teaches them important skills of communication, participation, and especially focuses on their creative abilities.

Cultural activities are crucial for the physical and intellectual stimulation for all children, not only vulnerable children. The theatrical events organised in partnership with the British Council and with the support of UNICEF Ukraine highlighted the necessity to treat vulnerable children as equals regardless of their disadvantaged status, and to provide them with equal educational opportunities, such as taking part in cultural performances.

The Swedish and Ukrainian actors and their productions raised awareness that such children have as much right to take part in culture and arts but more importantly, that they have equal abilities to do so. The successful joint performances by the Swedish and Ukrainian actors that took place in Kyiv from September 21-27 drew attention both to the importance of children’s rights in Ukraine and also to the significance of partnerships between the British Council in Kiev, and UNICEF Ukraine.

About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protection of children’s rights and interests. The Fund works in more than 190 countries for protection and support of children from early childhood through adolescence. Programs of UNICEF are entirely financed by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Office of the Fund was opened in Ukraine in 1997. For more information please visit Join us on Twitter, Facebook and ВКонтакте

For more information, please contact:

Yulia Yurova, UNICEF Kyiv, Tel: +38 044 245 2450,



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