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New Play for Children at Roodepoort Theatre on 22 August

August 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

South African families will soon have opportunity to experience a fresh interpretation of one of the most renowned Ukrainian folk tales. The Forest, an interactive contemporary play for children by Kateryna Aloshyna, which will have three performances on 22 August.

Kateryna Aloshyna is a truly international artist. Born in Ukraine, she has spent the last three years in South Africa doing what she loves – teaching choreography and creating contemporary dance performances. She runs a dance school in Pretoria, Contemporary Dance Laboratory, that integrates contemporary techniques such as improvisation, partnering and floor work. She is also one of the key figures in the Ukrainian Association of South Africa (UAZA) that promotes economic, scientific and cultural connections between Ukraine and South Africa.

Kateryna has 18 years of experience teaching dance. South Africans have already witnessed (Kateryna strongly prefers this word talking about the audiences of her performances) two of her stage shows: Fence, a fantasy that makes one think about the role of borders between people; and Show Me Your Christmas, a performance based on the poems by Ukrainian poet Oksana Kutsenko. These two shows were intended for adults, but ‘Kateryna’s new show is aimed at children.

Entitled simply The Forest, it is based on one of the most mysterious classical works of Ukrainian literature: The Forest Song by Lesya Ukrainka, composed in 1911. Lesya Ukrainka’s portrait appears on Ukraine’s 200 hryvnia note (valued at approximately R100). Written more than 100 years ago, The Forest Song sounds strikingly modern today when humanity can better appreciate the importance of our connections with nature.


The story starts out in familiar fashion. Once upon a time a peasant family decides to build their house in the forest. The forest is full of various supernatural beings like nymphs and imps, as appear in Ukrainian legends. The old uncle teaches his young nephew Lukash to live in peace with all these beings. But when the boy falls in love with Mavka, a beautiful forest nymph, the story becomes much more complicated. To some it might resemble The Little Mermaid by Andersen; others might relate it with traditional African fairy tales. The Forest Song is about the contradictions of human ambition and the ways of nature; about lofty and profane things; about love and fidelity. Romance and tragedy often go hand in hand, but The Forest portrays a child’s interpretation that gives everything a second chance.

Kateryna was inspired to produce The Forest based on her own experiences working with children. “Some children would respond right away if you ask them do something, while others would think about it first. But increasingly with the spread of technology and the fast pace of life, children are already jumping and running around when you ask them to do something, and if you tell them to stop moving it would be like telling them to stop thinking.” The Forest will be suitable for all kinds of children; as a contemporary dance shows it will be interactive. “If you want you can join in, you can be an active part of it or just witness it. The child will be in their own element and you won’t feel embarrassed; it’s natural for the audience to be a part of such a performance. The child will have his or her own experience of making a decision. In the digital age when we do many things automatically, it is very important to stay creative.”

The Forest will take place as if in several spaces at the same time. On the stage one can see the performance, and on a screen everything is shown from above, as if from the top of the forest. This is why on the posters of the play the trees appear unusual – they are shown from above.

For the original play Lesya Ukrainka added music of folk melodies she had heard in the Ukrainian forest region of Polissya. Some of these melodies will be a part of the show, while some music have been composed specially for the performance. Traditional Ukrainian music and costumes are used in the show, which is made possible with generous assistance from the Embassy of Ukraine in South Africa.

The Forest will be performed in three shows on 22 August at 13:00, 14:00 and 15:00 at Roodepoort Theatre in Johannesburg. As per Covid-19 regulations only 50 people will be able to attend each performance.

Tickets available at Webtickets ranging from R210 to R250. Tea and cookies will be served afterwards.

More information.



Author: Hanna Yanovska

Editing: Barry van Wyk