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Oksana Grytsenko

Oksana Grytsenko with the book ”A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War: 20 Short Works by Ukrainian Playwrights”

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Natalka Vorozhbyt's cat "Soul" contemplates the 2nd iteration of Laertes Press's "A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War."

 


 

One of the most important ways that we have taken the word of Ukrainian drama and theater to the world is via Laertes Press, a small but extraordinarily mighty publisher founded and run by Nina Kamberos out of Chapel Hill, N.C. Laertes has published, or is about to publish, upwards of 70 titles. Dozens more are in the planning stage. Kamberos is especially interested in work from the Balkan countries, although Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Belarus and other countries are represented as well. Ukraine is one of the newest focuses of her work. This began with the collection, “A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War: 20 Short Works by Ukrainian Playwrights,” which appeared under the Egret acting imprint in January of 2023, and was joined by a second, corrected and expanded iteration in October 2023. The British newspaper The Telegraph selected "Dictionary" as one of the Best 50 Books of 2023, putting it in 21st place. CITD commissioned 15 of the 20 works in this volume, and it has purchased and distributed gratis dozens of copies to the U.S. theater community.

 

A recent review of the book by Bryan Brown in the British National Theatre Quarterly lavishes praise on the collection  - "[The story told in these works] is one of profound resilience, immense courage, and unwavering belief in the power of the playwright’s ability to give form and meaning to the most horrific of human experiences." Brown further singles out several works for their excellence, calling Natalia Blok's “Our Children” a “tour de force...”;  defining Igor Bilyts’s “The Russian Soldier” as a “four-page searing indictment of [Russia's] war machine"; and highlighting Maksym Kurochkin's “laser-clear 'Three Attempts to Improve Daily Life'..."

 

But this is only the beginning of our involvement with Laertes. An Egret acting edition of Andriy Bondarenko's new play “Ghost Land” is expected to be published in September. (More on this unique member of Kyiv's Theater of Playwrights in coming editions of Dispatches from Ukraine.) Also in the works is a two-volume collection of plays by Maksym Kurochkin. The exact, or even approximate, publishing date of these volumes is hard to pin down because, in addition to his efforts running the Theater of Playwrights, Kurochkin continues to be an active volunteer in Ukraine's Territorial Defense brigade. In fact, his short tale, “ Three Attempts to Improve Daily Life,” was written specifically about his experiences traveling around Ukraine in the fight against the Russian invaders.

For more information on “A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War: 20 Short Works by Ukrainian Playwrights,” go to:

Laertes Press,
our publishing partner

by John Freedman

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Max Kurochkin with his second 2nd iteration of Laertes Press's "A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War."

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 Olena Astasieva with both iterations of Laertes Press's "A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War."
 

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