BBK Kuna will host the international premiere of “The Book of Sirens”, a theatre play created in the bomb shelters of Kyiv

The Fair Saturday Foundation will host the international premiere of “The Book of Sirens”, a theatre play created and premiered in the bomb shelters of Kyiv scarcely a month ago by the Ukrainian company ProEnglish Theatre.

The premiere will take place in Bilbao, on Monday 2 May at 19:00 in the BBK Kuna building, as one of the opening events of the Fair Saturday Forum, in which cases of international social transformation through culture will be presented.

ProEnglish Theatre an international symbol of resistance through culture

The ProEnglish Theatre (Kyiv, Ukraine) continues to carry out its work in a World War II bomb shelter as an antidote against dehumanization in the middle of the military aggression by Russian troops. And when the air-raid sirens go off, they take the whole neighbourhood into their refuge.

Legend has it that this fortified basement of a building in the Shevchenko district, was used by the Gestapo to conduct interrogations, but for the past eight years it has been the headquarters of the Ukrainian company ProEnglish Theatre, the only one to perform plays in English.

But in these times of war against Russia, the space has recovered its original function and provides permanent shelter, since the first day of the invasion, to about twenty members of the company, who also decided to seek refuge in art in order to calm down the anxiety and uncertainty of the armed offensive against the capital.

While there is art, there will be humanity

“Keeping the theatre alive was not a premeditated decision, it was more a feeling of it being right. At times such as these, in order to stay mentally sane, one must follow one’s most basic instincts, and this led us to theatre”, explains the Ukrainian actress of Nicaraguan background Anabel Sotelo, one of the directors of the space. “We started simply by doing something we liked to do. But we then realised that every time we rehearsed that, even on the day of the premiere, the whole space took on an aura, which transformed it and made it feel safe. It’s a type of therapy”, explains Anabel.

On the toughest days of the Russian offensive against the capital, the theatre also took in dozens of neighbours who were seeking shelter from the nearby bombs. Up to fifty people spent several nights there, including families with children, and even cats.

About the play “The book of sirens”

Anabel Sotelo Ramírez will portray the main character of the play which will be performed in Bilbao, based on “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak, set in World War II and “with may parallels with the current situation in Ukraine”.

“The idea behind this play is that art can save lives in all contexts. That is what we feel here when we make art. It’s very difficult to maintain humanity in a war. The purpose behind every Russian measure taken against Ukraine is to dehumanize it. Its goal is always to destroy culture, education”.