based on the novel of Vasyl Barka "Yellow Prince"

Cherkasy State Academic Drama Theatre named Schevchenko, Kiev/Ukraine


          The Holodomor/Famine (Ukrainian – Голодомор, literal translation “Death by hunger” or “ to kill by hunger, to starve to death”) was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR, part of the Soviet famine of 1932-1933. During the famine, which is also know as the “terror-famine in Ukraine” and “famine-genocide in Ukraine”, millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine.

          Some claims account for up to 10 million fatalities or more. The death toll of the famine was under 8 million. Howevwe, the demographic deficit caused by unborn or unrecored births allows for total net losses to be as high as 10 million.

       LENIN LOVE, STALIN LOVE - Genocide in Ukraine 1932–1933 based on the novel Yellow Prince by Vasyl Barka. This production is about the tragic event of Famine, bringing information to the world about the Famine as a pre-planned anti-Ukrainian policy of the Stalinist regime and working out join actions to prevent genocide and other crimes against humanity.

          “I am always a little bit castrated. My title… was cut,” Zholdak said before the premiere. “The second title was ‘Lenin Love, Stalin Love, Moscow Love.’ That was cut too. That’s why only ‘Lenin Love, Stalin Love’ remained.” Zholdak said a director friend staged a performance in Berlin half a year ago called “‘Fuck America.’ And that was normal there. What would happen if I called my performance ‘Fuck Russia?’” he asked rhetorically.

        Name aside, the play itself set three precedents in Ukraine. First, it was aired live on national TV and watched by an estimated audience of up to 10 million. Secondly, it is the first stage adaptation of the 1963 novel “Yellow Prince” by Holodomor survivor Vasyl Barka that was forbidden during in the Soviet Union and published in the United States, where Barka emigrated. Barka’s novel, that also provided the basis for Oles Yanchuk’s 1990 movie “Holod 33,” creates the symbolic image of the demonic yellow prince that sows suffering reminiscent of Stalin.

         A specially-built roughly-hewn wooden corridor that looked like a cross between army barracks and concentration camps led visitors to the main entrance to the opera. The production team found more than 200 original photos of the children who had been died of famine. The people who cmae on the perfomrance cross this wooden corridor and saw childrens photos on the walls. Ukraine lost over 2 million new young lifes

        “You may not like the play,” Zholdak warned journalists several days ahead of time. The play is very heavy in emotions: the first act ends with the shooting of peasants and a priest in church. Some people left after this scene, freeing up seats in a hall that was initially overcrowded. 

         Bulgarian artist Tita Dimova designed an ascetic but very impressive stage for the show. Real soil was surrounded two pits on stage. One of the pits was filled with water, representing a lake where Ukrainian farmers hid the Holy Communion Chalice, a relic from the village church.

          The play’s main character Myron Katranyk refused to tell the communists where the chalice was hidden, so they tied him to a cross and drowned him in the lake and buried him in the second pit. Katranyk’s youngest son was the only one to survive in the entire village and concludes the spectacle by showing how he feels about Soviet rulers Lenin and Stalin.

         Actors wrapped in black cloth instead of the more familiar embroidered Ukrainian shirts created a depressive mood that was intensified by music by Russian composer Vladimir Klikov, the sound of dripping water and acoustic bass.

         Zholdak described his staging as “an honest view of an artist” and that he “approached this topic very carefully, not in my usual style.”

Script                                    Andriy Zholdak, Valeriy Zholdak

Directing, light conception         Andriy Zholdak

Scenography                          Andriy Zholdak, Tita Dimova

Costumes                              Tita Dimova

Music                                   Vladimir Klykov


Vasyl Barka (pseud. of Vasyl Ocheret), b 16 July 1908 in the village of Solonytsia near Lubny, Poltava gubernia, died 11 April 2003 in Liberty, New York State. Poet, writer, literary critic, translator. An emigre from 1943, he lived in Germany, where he was active in the MUR literary association, before settling in the United States in 1949. His first novel, "Rai" (Paradise, 1953), deals with the Soviet 'paradise.' His second novel, "Zhovtyi kniaz'" (The Yellow Prince, 1962, 1968), about the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932–33, was translated into French (Paris 1981) 


— 29 November 2008



1 act - 50 min

2 act - 1h 45 min



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