MOTHERS A SONG FOR WARTIME- reading of the libretto at Avignon Festival

photo: Michał Rumas


The war rituals of violence against women never change. War raises questions for Europe: about accountability in the face of a threat and the mechanisms of its defence. Out of the testimonies of Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Polish mothers and children, those who have fled war, those who have fled persecution, and those who welcomed them in Warsaw, Marta Górnicka is creating a choral play. Ukrainian children’s games, lively traditional songs, spells, and political statements all meet each other. The choir starts its wartime song with Schedrivka, a traditional Ukrainian folk song. These melodic well wishes are addressed to all people, for a new time.

reading of the libretto at Avignon Festival 


Premiere: Teatr Powszechny, Warsaw, 29.09.2023

For several months I have been working in a workshop in Warsaw with a group of 21 women affected by the nightmare of the war in Ukraine and the oppression of political persecution in Belarus. And with those who gave them shelter in Warsaw. I also work simultaneously with Ukrainian ethnomusicologists in search of what the war is unable to touch – the tradition of the living voice and Ukrainian singing. The paradox of this war is that thanks to it we penetrate so deeply into the culture of Ukraine.

The CHORUS is for me and the group of women I work with a tool to look at the defense mechanisms that war activates in us, a tool for recovering memory, but also voice and language. But not the voice of women as victims of war, but on the contrary – as its protagonists.

 The transgenerational ensemble consists of women aged 8 to 71. They come from Kiev, Sum, Irpen, Kharkiv. They are survivors. They are refugees. They are witnesses of violence and bombings.Those who fled with their children to Poland, Warsaw, or other cities in Europe and beyond – want to speak today, use the power of their voice to name what is unnameable.

One of them, Natalia, brought to Warsaw – only one thing that she wanted to save from the war. Bandura, a traditional Ukrainian instrument that she did not want to leave to the war. This instrument is a symbol of the power of the voice and the power of women. The libretto of MOTHERS and the spectacle for the time of war, which we create together, will begin with a song, which is an old ritual, a song – a wish for prosperity, life and rebirth. It’s about finding together what’s alive in the rubble. In a meeting, in the CHORUS.

(Moïra Dalant in conversation with Marta Górnicka, fragment of the interview for Avignon Festival, March- July 2023)
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