Lauded Maidan Folk Opera Hits the International Stage
As Ukrainians across the globe mark the 3rd anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity, Mark and Marichka Marczyk prepare for the world tour with their critically acclaimed Ukrainian folk opera, Counting Sheep.
The infamous couple met on Independence Square during the uprisings in 2014 and has since created and produced an interactive multimedia performance based on their experiences in Kyiv and Donbas region.
The unconventional show premiered at SummerWorks International Performance Festival in Toronto last August and was immediately greeted with rave reviews by The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Toronto Life, among others. Torontoist wrote that Counting Sheep is "as close as you could get to experiencing a revolution without actually putting your life on the line".
Throughout the performance, audience members are fed buckwheat porridge and open-faced sandwiches; they dance, build barricades, and even seek cover behind make-shift shields torn from the very tables they ate at together. Meanwhile, members of Juno-nominated Lemon Bucket Orkestra set the mood by singing and playing traditional music from the repertoire of renowned folk choir Bozhychi (where Marichka has been a member for 16 years).
'There is no dialogue, no protagonist', Mark Marczyk, a third generation Ukrainian-Canadian and ring-leader of the 12-piece guerrilla-folk party-band, says. 'The story is told through shaky first hand footage projected on the walls and the hero is the audience. A story about the Maidan can’t be any other way'.
'We want people in other countries to feel what it was like and what it is still like', Marichka Marczyk, singer, co-writer and music director of the performance teaching Canadians to sing Ukrainian folk songs, says. 'Ukrainians have survived more than one war and have a rich tradition of expressing their joys and sorrows through song. We understood that we could most dynamically and deeply express the humanity of what happened on Maidan through folk music'.
The show’s success has led to an international tour including multiple performances in Toronto, Dublin, Edinborough, Prague, London, and Chicago in 2016, with plans for New York, Calgary, Vancouver, and Montreal for 2017. Mark and Marichka are even having conversations with local producers about presenting Counting Sheep in Ukraine.
In addition to Counting Sheep, Mark and Marichka have a busy touring schedule with Lemon Bucket Orkestra, teaching traditional Ukrainian village singing and dancing workshops in Toronto, and volunteering/performing on the ATO front. They have also started a new collaborative video-music-performance project called Balaklava Blues, which currently exists in the form of a literary blog while the project is being prepared.