With People's Artist Anzhelika Girych (pictured), whom the audience knows and loves for her roles in many performances, such as The Forest Song, Figaro, Romeo and Juliet, and who starred in more than thirty Ukrainian films and TV series, I spoke on Christmas Eve on the eve of the premiere based on the work of the Ukrainian philosopher Hryhoriy Skovoroda “Narkis. Recognize Yourself” at the Kiev Academic Theater for Young Spectators on Lipki. Angelica devoted many years of her life to this theater and today she is the leading master of the stage in it. Our conversation, however, was not very festive…
From the editors of KV: at the time of the release of the material, the actors of the Karolina Pampukha Theater and Andrey Voloshin were on their way to a meeting with Anna Starostenko, deputy mayor of Kyiv, who leads the sphere of culture after the removal of Valentin Mondrievsky in this direction.
But about this meeting in the morning became known to Vyacheslav Zhili, who, as a result, under the threat of dismissal, forbade the actors to leave the theater. It is possible that information about the meeting of the actors with Ms. Starostenko was provided to the head of the theater by the director of the Department of Culture of the KSCA Sergei Anzhiyaka, who was also invited to this meeting.
The actors nevertheless went to the Kyiv City State Administration, where they told Anna Starostenko about the terrible situation in the theater, and she promised that the Department of Culture of the Kyiv City State Administration would inspect the Kyiv Academic Theater of Young Spectators on Lypki after she completed a similar audit at the Kyiv Academic Theatre. bank of the Dnieper, which was also started after the flight of the leader and the collective appeal of the actors.
Until all the circumstances are clarified, according to her, none of the actors will be fired anymore, and bullying in the theater will stop. But already at 17.00 it became known that the fugitive leader Vyacheslav Zhyla fired people's actress Anzhelika Girich.
Instead of understanding the situation and protecting the actors, the city authorities handed them over to be torn to pieces by the leader, regarding whose illegal actions they asked for help.
A week ago, the actors and artists of the Lypki Theater sent a collective appeal to the head of the Kyiv city military administration, Sergei Popko, and his deputy, the Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko, with a request: to find and return from abroad the fugitive, theater director Vyacheslav Zhyla, and also to check him actions in the theater, which led to the almost destruction of the theatrical and entertainment institution of culture.
Vyacheslav Zhyla, having learned from KV about the collective appeal, did not wait for an invitation from the city authorities or the military administration, and quickly returned to Ukraine and accelerated premiere.
The addressees of the collective appeal – Sergei Popko and Vitali Klitschko – have not yet reacted to it.
The appeal was “released” to the Department of Culture of the KSCA, after which Vyacheslav Zhili became aware of the names and surnames of all the complainants (in including those who asked not to indicate their names in the publication), and he increased pressure on the theater workers.
Angelika Girich was not among the signatories of the collective appeal, but she also started having problems, which is not surprising.
Anzhelika's husband, People's Artist of Ukraine Viktor Girich, is a Ukrainian theater director and teacher, who for thirty years was the director and artistic director of the Kyiv Academic Theater for Young Spectators on Lipki. But in 2021, Vyacheslav Zhyla replaced him in his position after a competition for this position by the Department of Culture.
Today, the results of the competition are the subject of litigation in the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal, where Vyacheslav Zhyla filed an appeal after losing in the first court instance.
The Department of Culture of the KSCA did not do this, which is also not surprising, since Zhyla is considered a creature of the previous leadership of the Department, namely, the former director Yana Barinova.
Although we talked with Anzhelika over a cup of coffee by candlelight, this “romance” will not surprise anyone in Kyiv today. But the conversation turned out to be more – about earthly things.
– Angelica, your husband is a former head of the theater, he left, and you stayed. How is your relationship with the new director?
Angelika Girich– At the very beginning, we had a conversation with him in the office, he frankly asked me, and I frankly answered, and after this conversation there was some feeling that we agreed on non-aggression, but it was not in words, but between them. In the future, we had no common ground, and for some time we simply tolerated each other. I understand that I needed this time, because I wanted to see how the story with the court would end, but I had already made a decision for myself: if Zhila remains the head of the theater, then the door of the theater is closed for me.
— Why is that so?
Angelika Girich— It became not interesting. The theater has turned into an amateur circle. The proposed level of directing has nothing to do with directing.
But the most important thing in the theater for me is people, and they were brought to a terrible state.
Today, when you enter the theater, you immediately feel the atmosphere of fear. I do yoga, various spiritual practices, so it’s very bitter for me to look at what fear does to people, it squeezes them from the inside, blocks all energy centers, people get sick from this.
—But recently a group of actors and workers of your theater made a collective appeal to Vitali Klitschko and Sergei Popko regarding the illegal actions of Vyacheslav Zhyla. Have you seen this letter and support it?
Angelika Girich—Yes, I support it, moreover, I am proud of these people who dared to do it in this atmosphere. To be honest, I consider them heroes.
— I heard that they are being persecuted today.
Anzhelika Girich – There is, in particular, Oleg Tatarin, the chief artist of the theater and one of the signatories of the collective appeal. He is generally a student of Daniil Leader, an artist of high professional level, taste. Of course, Oleg could not come to terms with the lack of professionalism of the new leader. And Vyacheslav Zhyla put pressure on him before, and after a collective appeal, he generally stated that he would communicate only through the personnel department and in writing. We understand what is going on. But how can a theater exist without a chief artist?
Recently, Ekaterina Korniychuk, a well-known Ukrainian graphic artist, stage designer, costume designer, who worked not only in our theater, but also in the Ivan Franko Theater, the Lesya Ukrainka Theater, and the Cherkasy Theater, which has more than 15 solo exhibitions, was fired in a similar way. In addition, they put a real persecution on her.
Caroline Pampousa (actress and film actress) is not given roles, but is forced to come every day and sit all day, seven hours in the dressing room. When asked what she should do there all the time, they answer, they say, read a book. And if she doesn’t come, she will immediately be reprimanded and fired. While other actors, without work, are just at home.
There is a persecution – selective – of some artists for the fact that they supported the former leader in the elections a year ago. Instead of the creative atmosphere of a children's theater, we now have almost a concentration camp.
— Is it somehow stipulated by the contract that the actors must be in the theater when there are no rehearsals and performances?
Angelika Gyrich – No! In fact, we have an irregular working day, this is a creative profession. There is a performance – you play, a rehearsal – you go out. If an actor is sitting at home, it is not his fault, it means that the leader did not organize the process. And the actors can work on the role both at home and outdoors and at night. We are crazy.
—So why do you have actors agree to sit in the dressing room for seven hours?
Angelika Girich– The head said: they wanted a full-time job, let them hatch. I have a counter question to the Department of Culture of the KSCA: why do they pay money for the fact that the actors are sitting in the dressing room?
– Have they started to put pressure on you too? – Yes, the head of the personnel department has already called me several times asking if I am present at the workplace on days when there is no performance or rehearsal. Apparently, they are preparing reprimands for me and are going to fire me.
(In the course of preparing the material, it became known that, indeed, an order had been prepared by the theater director to reprimand Angelika Girich, allegedly for being absent from the theater on December 18, when, according to the actress, there were no rehearsals, performances, and, accordingly, according to the theater schedule, more than 40 people from the state)
— The artists of the Kyiv Communal Theater turned to the city leadership and reported that their leader had gone abroad during martial law. What do you think the reaction should be?
Angelika Girich– A director who left the theater at a difficult time and, as they say, went to a safe place abroad, no longer has the right to head a communal theater. By the way, this is not the first time he left. Back in July, the director was gone for several weeks. Then I wanted to meet with Vyacheslav Zhyla, because he sent me a letter via viber at night without a signature about the termination of my contract with the theater. Another 40 theater employees received the same “paper”. But the lawyer said that it wasn't even a document, and we couldn't protest it. Therefore, for two weeks every day I went to the theater administration, knocked and filmed the director's door on video. I set out to wait until he was at work. But I was told that he had gone somewhere.
— When did the theater reopen after the start of Russia's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine?
Angelika Girich – In the summer, they started showing a couple of performances on the small stage. Then some of the people were put on standby and contracts with them were suspended, but after the actors appealed to the Department of Culture of the Kyiv City State Administration and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy of Ukraine, we were called to the theater and the contract was extended.
The ministry, by the way, warned that a check will be made on the indicated facts of violations. It was the beginning of September, and from September 20, we began various exercises (plastics, acting exercises).
Then the theater actor Oles Pavlyutin offered to do a “reading” (this is when the actors read the text of the play from the sheet – KV) based on the work of Grigory Skovoroda “Narkis”. Talk about: “Know thyself.” Oles has a reference book, he lives with Skovoroda. In the end, rehearsals began in October, and from the end of November it became clear that there would be a premiere.
This year is the 300th anniversary of Grigory Skovoroda, the idea of the performance is very interesting, but I emphasize that it belongs exclusively to Oles.
But it’s as if the theater director also proceeded from creative considerations, would have made the performance in advance, and presented it on the philosopher’s birthday on December 3, and not on Christmas Eve, which the people of Kiev spend at home.
Today, the date of the premiere was postponed solely to put a tick and at least tell something to the Department of Culture. But, in my opinion, this performance should not have been forced. It was still difficult for some actors, the texts are philosophical, they require some kind of life experience and inner position. Perhaps we should have thought about the cast more.
— But was it interesting for you to play a performance based on Skovoroda’s work?
Angelika Girich— Yes, I felt very comfortable, and it seemed that the philosophical thoughts of Skovoroda largely coincided with the teachings of yoga. Therefore, I read his work and thought, God, Skovoroda was his! He is the first Ukrainian yogi.
The work of Grigory Skovoroda is about the true that is in a person, about his turning inward to himself, to the divine principle. Here, from my text, listen: “My body is just like the walls of a temple, or like a shard in a vessel. But my heart and my thoughts are like an offering in the temple, or like water in a vessel. And since walls are cheaper than offerings, because they are for offerings, and not for offerings for walls, and a shard for water, and not water for a vessel, so my soul, thoughts and heart are the best in my body.
This performance involves six actors, and we are all like students, but at some point everyone tries on the image of Grigory Skovoroda.
— And what about philosophy during the war?
Angelika Girich— I’m sure that now is the time to find out at yourself. Any crisis is a plan of opportunity to push off and move on.
—And as a result, win the war?
Angelika Girich—Yes. Probably yes.
— What do you think about the introduction of a non-repertory theater instead of a repertory theater, as well as a contract system (introduced in 2016 by amending the Law on Culture and the Law on Theaters and Theater Business – KV)?
— (shrugs) For some reason, our government has sunk into that theatrical reform, which provides for a contract system and a project theater.
But it has long been said that this system is imperfect.
Therefore, in Europe there are both theaters and stationary ones. We have well-established theaters – these are repertory theaters, for example, the Ivan Franko Theater, the Theater on Podol. Destroying the repertory theater is the easiest thing to do, but what can be done instead?
For many years, the past head of our Theater (Viktor Girich – KV) warned us that another time was approaching, and we should be ready for the contract system that operates in Europe, when a team gathers, the performance plays for a year or three, and then it is written off. But if it were so, yes, this is not the case!
Our theater is now playing performances that were under the Girichs! The same repertory performances. For example, there is an old performance in a new way of our play about Peter Pan, a similar story with “Leader of the Redskins”, a play that has been staged in the theater for many years.
Where are the promised “superheroes”?
Vyacheslav Zhyla promised at the competition for the position of theater director that he would make performances about superheroes, but no.
We had 56 performances in the theater's repertoire. Now there are a maximum of six submissions.
Last year, the theater staged performances directed by Akhtem Seitabaev, five or six performances were held – and that's it? But after all, budget money was spent on this, and today this performance is no longer in the repertoire. In addition, they staged the English play “The City Was There”, but again it is no longer there.
—Maybe it's the war, some actors left Kyiv?
– Of course, someone left the cast, but it was possible to introduce someone else for this or that role, we now have a lot of actors without work. In general, this is a trend in the theater: a performance is staged and immediately written off. But after all, money was spent on it, costumes were made, scenery was made, and this needs to be worked out somehow? Here's an analogy for you: when a film is being shot, it's being screened in order to get back what was spent and earn money. And here?
—How long can a performance usually run?
– In different ways, depending on whether he came to the viewer or not. We have a performance-collage “Dream” by Shevchenko, which ran from 2014 until the appointment of a new director of the theater. There is also a performance – the legend “Crazy Day or the Wedding of Figaro”, which ran for 20 years. The cast, performers changed, they sewed new costumes, made scenery, but he kept leaving, but why? Because the audience is asking for extravaganza…
– Well, of course, this is a classic.
– Yes. Vyacheslav Zhyla once boasted that he would make a futuristic theater out of it. But parents lead their children to classic fairy tales, to well-understood stories.
—What Kyiv theaters are good to work in now?
– In my opinion, the Ivan Franko Theater. When I scroll through the Facebook feed, I envy them, because I see that from the first moments of the war they had creativity, they did some kind of concerts, evenings, it was clear that people were on fire.
In the Young Theater, too, I saw processes taking place, there is a patriotic spirit. In the summer I went to them, watched the fairy tale “Tsap – Katsap”: I got such pleasure, even cried.
— What does it depend on?
– from the leader. He must ensure that everyone has a job, that there are more performances. In the Youth Theater, we used to play so many things, we just fell from roles. And now you can only joke about the fact that performances are not played, but people receive funds.
As my teacher Rushkovsky Nikolai Nikolayevich said: “It’s good to be an actor if it weren’t for rehearsals and performances.”
For a long time, the theater was my life, and it was never money.
– The actors said that a lot of people left your theater. Where did they go and is it possible to get a job in other theaters, you mentioned that your actors are auditioning in other Kyiv theaters.
—I think it is difficult to find a job in other theaters in Kyiv, because now real theater directors worry about feeding their actors. Yes, more than 50 people left our theater, and many went nowhere at all, just joined the stock exchange, some now work in a cafe.
People went because they couldn’t withstand the pressure or they were told directly, they say, write a statement or “I’ll arrange such a life that it’s better to write yourself.” Someone said that it was impossible to cooperate with Zhila, but I'm not a fighter, I can't.
Actually, it's a disaster that everything is falling apart and there is no team.
– On January 10, consideration is scheduled in the Administrative Court of Appeal of the city of Kyiv of the appeal filed by Vyacheslav Zhyla against the decision of the court of first instance, which declared unlawful and canceled the decision of the competition commission for the election of Vyacheslav Zhyly as the winner of the competition for the position of director of the Theater and the order of the Department of Culture of the KSCA on his appointment . What do you expect from the court?
—Of course, a win (laughs).
You see, it was a big falsification with that competition. Even before it was held, everyone knew, we were directly told that there would be a new director in the theater – Vyacheslav Zhyla.
The competitive system introduced in 2016 is, to put it mildly, imperfect. 214 representatives of public organizations from all cities of Ukraine registered to participate in the competition jury. It would be one thing if among the public organizations there were the Union of Artists, Writers, Composers. But it turned out that these were some kind of “beauty salons”, a la FOPs, which can be opened in one day. At the same time, from different cities. It seems that all cities of Ukraine are interested in choosing the director of the capital's Youth Theater. And when organizations were chosen, the pieces of paper were put into balls of different colors…
—These arguments are rather for law enforcement agencies. Did you file a complaint about a crime?
— No, you immediately went to court.
— What was the main argument that influenced the positive decision of the administrative court?
– The fact is that Yulia Kirilyuk, who staged a performance at the Actor Theater, where Vyacheslav Zhyla directed, and also from a public organization, was a member of the competition jury. The court noted that a conflict of interest was seen in this fact and ruled in our favor.
Annabella Morina, translated by Skelet.Info