Simon O'CorraMay 6, 2022
Theatre Square in Mariupol is no stranger to destruction. The recently bombed and destroyed theatre there was itself built upon the site of the old and second St. Mary Magdalene Church which was in 1934 purposefully destroyed once again by the then Soviet Union (Now Russia) in its drive to obliterate religion. This destruction culminated in the denial of Jesus Christ himself, as it t was felt that Socialism had become the modern form of Christianity. Interestingly, after the destruction of the first St Mary Magdalene Church in 1891, a small chapel had been erected too, dedicated to the then heir Nicolai Alexandrovich, soon to become Tsar Nicolai II. This too was destroyed by the Soviet State.
The Donetsk Académico Regional Drama Theatre in Mariupol, was built in 1960, following the original theatre called the Concert Hall and (later the Winter Theatre) having been given the status of the Donetsk State Theatre in 1959.
This grand opening came as the culmination of a theatrical tradition in the city, started in 1847 by V. Vinogradova, a successful theatre entrepreneur, and carried on until the opening of the Concert Hall theatre, mentioned above, in 1887.
During the intervening years, seasons featuring provincial performers gave way to the first professional troupe appearing in 1878, forging the acting careers of a number of performers and developing the importance of Mariupol as a centre of dramatic excellence and a nucleus of the social phenomena that is theatre, and one which clearly reflected the culture of the Ukraine until events of the 16th March 2022.
During the 1880s and 1890s many important actors presented their works to an eager public and, Basil Shapovalav, the original founder of the building of the first Concert Hall in Mariupol, also inaugurated theatre courses there to encourage Ukrainian Performers and Culture.
Today we see a different picture, one of cultural and humanitarian devastation. This beautiful Classicist themed theatre lies in ruins, with over 600 dead, buried alive in its depths, both victims of a ruthless Russian regime with its re-invention of class conflicts, it's ironic denial of internationalism, so praised by the Soviets, and the cult of personality surrounding its current President.
What are there people of Mariupol and the Ukraine to do without this great and noble theatrical edifice? It is hoped that after this conflict that the theatre will be rebuilt and continue its long tradition of the Dramatic Arts.
In a sick climax to the bombing, local residents are now being forced into clearing the debris from the theatre and other nearby buildings to make way for a planned Victory Parade to be held by Russia in the city on May 9th. The price for their work is a meagre ration of food, surely a desperate example of what victory means for so many Ukrainians.
Simon O'Corra has been a creative since childhood, working in theatre and film and also as a designer and artist. He now combines all these skills to write monologues, duologues, short and feature films and plays. He also has experience in the following: copywriting, research, mind mapping and brainstorming, script editing and mentoring. Simon is a people's person and is a great networker. He currently has a range of short and feature films in development and plays also awaiting production dates post-Covid.