Puppets and poetry go underground in besieged metropolis of Kharkiv

In a subterranean metro station serving as a bomb shelter in japanese Ukraine, two flamboyant puppeteers act out a tabletop fairytale for a gaggle of spellbound youngsters. With a forged of caricature dolls together with a mustachioed king and a herd of pigs, Oleksandra Shlykova and Anton Andriushchenko inform the story of how “Princesses are totally different”, entrancing the youngsters and their mother and father. They’re additionally distracting them from the close to fixed bombardments raining down on the town of Kharkiv above them, as Russia escalates its offensive in japanese Ukraine.

Utilizing a cell phone sound system the pair elicit giggles and gasps from their viewers perched on steps lined with cardboard-an auditorium improvised to forestall the chilly and damp seeping into their bones. “A reside efficiency is all the time an emotion that’s right here and now,” mentioned 47 year-old Shlykova after concluding the present with a flourished bow and alluring the youngsters to play with the puppets. “We alternate feelings and it lifts our spirits. It’s exhausting to explain it, you need to really feel it.”

Kids watch puppeteer Oleksandra Shlykova (left) as she performs on the metro stations of Kharkiv.

Underground hideout

Deep underground, the metro stations of Kharkiv are actually residence to residents of the japanese metropolis petrified of the battle raging above. Since pulling again from its northern offensive to seize the capital of Kyiv, the Kremlin has scaled up assaults on Ukraine’s japanese flank, together with Kharkiv simply 21 kilometers (13 miles) from the Russian border.

On Friday, shelling of residential areas of the town killed 10 folks. On Saturday, a strike claimed two extra lives. The walkways of the metro stations are actually lined with bedding and lumps of belongings. The stationary carriages have been divided into makeshift houses. Toiletries line the prepare home windows and inhabitants pry open the sliding doorways to entry their areas. The primary walkway smells of the soup being ladled out to these residing right here.

“Once you watch this efficiency you bear in mind the tales and also you alter the way in which you see the world,” mentioned 37 year-old Oksana, who introduced her two daughters to the present. They’re residing in a underground shelter close by, and came visiting to this one to flee the grim story unfolding above. “Reality and humor provides you a lift and makes you content,” mentioned Oksana, who declined to provide a surname.

Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan, 47 years outdated, performs in a bomb shelter in Kharkiv.

Poetic escapism

Throughout city a poetry efficiency takes place in a white brickwork bunker down some slender stairs previous a ramshackle workshop. The shelter can also be full of improvised beds. Serhiy Zhadan reads out verse overlaid with melodica music in a purple neon-lit soundproofed chamber. A small crowd follows the studying, through which Zhadan holds forth a surreal lyrical monologue detailing an assortment of animals.

Zhadan describes the poem as a “brutal lullaby” based mostly on a satire of a youngsters’s guide. It’s laced with profanity, a far cry from the family-friendly staging within the metro underground. However its goals are related. “An individual can not reside solely with conflict,” mentioned Zhadan-a literary movie star in poetry-obsessed Ukraine. “It is rather vital for them to listen to a phrase, to have the ability to sing alongside, to have the ability to specific a sure emotion.” – AFP

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