The theatric company “U!ZAHVATI” has been creating the first in Ukraine immersive performances since the 2016. The format rethinks the roles and the relationship of the actors with the audience, when the spectator becomes the participant and the co-creator of the new art reality. The “U! ZAHVATI” team not just reforms the traditional view upon the theatric arts, but it either creates the new senses and proposes for the spectators to live the new emotional experience through. Such performances are to be named as the following ones – “Time”, “The dialogs”, “The Day-Shadow” and “Remote Kyiv” (in partnership with German-Swiss Company Rimini Protokoll). The FD correspondent had a conversation with the company founders Oleksandr Stuzhuk and Oleksandr Orlovskyi about the features of the new art activity for Ukraine.
Tell us, please, about the setting up of your theatric team? What are the main features in its activity?
– Indeed we are not the theatric team in the ordinary meaning of the word. In fact, we are a group of people that has gathered together to get the mutual goals and each of us would fail to do that alone. We want to be useful for the society. We have united to create the high quality art product in an immersive new format for Ukraine. Thus, we have started the realization of the projects that would please us and our spectators as well. We began to form up our own audience. But our projects have been and still are rather unusual for their participants and this feature has transformed not only into our main particularity but, also, into the certain obstacle for us.
What is this obstacle in?
– The issue is the following one. Until the spectator would not visit our performances, until he or she would not feel the real spirit of them, the spectator would have not been able to catch the sense completely. Spectator has not got the proper background and no previous experience to be acquainted with such form of the art. Sure, the theatric activity is the closest way of art to our performing but not completely. Clear, that we do have the spectators, the actors, the scenario and the drama plot but in the same time we have been targeting the goals that are not coincide with the theatric goals. We are interested in the creation of the circumstances under which the spectator would be able not just to think over the important existence issues but to expand new emotions either.
Could we say that that your projects represent the new type of the art?
– Sincerely speaking, such type of the art is not a new one. It has been existed for quite a long period of time.
How have you picked the immersive performances idea up? What has been the impetus and what had inspired you?
– This format turned up in Europe 20 years ago. Now, it is on the good move throughout the world. When we came to know about the immersive theatre, we started to explore that: the art director of the team Polina Baranychenko had visited the performances in the different countries to get the first impressions. Then, we started to look for our own style and for our own senses. The most important issue in the immersive format for us is a possibility to stop, to understand oneself and to live the new experience through, which crucially important at our rationalized epoch. That is why at each new project we make the distance from the entertainment longer. We propose for our spectators interesting but sometimes not a simple way of the self-understanding in the certain art space.
The immersive performances are quite new and not common issue for Ukraine. Had not you happened to get scared of its realization in our rather conservative society?
– Oh, no. We understood the risks of the new products and of the new markets creation. At the new market to succeed is not an easy thing.
Our team has started to answer the following questions: how to sell the uncommon products?
How to set up the market and how to develop the successful brand? We understood that we created something special and such things had been always attractive ones. The modern project is a risky thing but in the same time it is an adventure. Also, we have entered into the space in a which we had no competitors. We have competed with the traditional theatric industry.
We do develop the new industry that has got the huge potentiality. This potentiality foresees not just the art projects. It covers educational and social projects as well, because we make such projects more competitive due to emotional recruiting of the participants.
You have already realized several projects. We mean the city promenades “Time” and “Remote Kyiv”, and the performance in the library “The dialogues”. Have they been successful?
– Yes, sure, they had. The people have been looking all the for the new ways of the entertainment. It was the thing we had been aimed for, whilst realizing our first project “Time” for the audience and this project has had its the third season this year by the way. It is the performance-promenade in the earphones, the walking through the city streets, when the sight and the hearing are linked with the feelings.
Thoughts and associations of the participants had echoed deeply in the souls of our spectators.
And then in the social networks they shared their impressions, they invited their friends, they bought the tickets for their relatives and thus the groups of people in the earphones appeared to be more common in the streets of Kyiv.
In autumn the performance-promenade “Time” was presented for the Croatian audience – you have realized it in Zagreb. Was it difficult to perform? What is the difference between the Ukrainian spectator and the Croatian one?
– That was the classical performance promenade that can be adapted in any city taking into account its original air and its character.
We have the three-year experience of the promenades realization in Kyiv and it has enabled us to organize the creative and the technical components of the performing in Zagreb. We should not forget that the Croatian media and Croatian audience have been acquainted with the immersive performances. For example, one year ago the theatrical company from Milano had presented its similar project there. The differences between Ukrainian and Croatian audiences are hard to be analyzed but the reaction of the Croatian people in the media was rather amiable.
What can you tell us about your creative plans for the year 2020?
– Since the end of the next spring the new season of the promenades will be started and we will be overglad to see our spectators again at the performances “Time” and “Remote Kyiv”. The last one, by the way, was created in 2019 in a partnership with the German-Swiss theatrical company Rimini Protokoll. The project was supported by the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine, by the Swiss Council of the Arts Pro Helvetia and by the ProCredit Bank from Germany. Sure, we are interested in the new projects, in the new creative collaborations and partnerships with the Ukrainian and foreign colleagues. Meanwhile, we are not going to talk in details about our plans but we would like to make a pause until the new performances and the new experience will be realized for our spectators. The goal of the “U!ZAHVATI” company is not a profit, but a triumph, though the triumph is measured by the admiration of the spectators as well as by the satisfaction of the work that has been carried out. This logic has its symmetry. When we make our spectators happy – we are the profitable ones. The triumph is not a result, but the process.