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Lauren Marie
Lauren Marie

Ukrainian Teen

ARE WE THERE YET is a multidisciplinary production derived entirely from personal stories of ten teens from Ukraine; displaced and uprooted by war. Some of their families are still in Ukraine beneath the bombs. They feel the dissonance while stuck in a vacuum wanting to go back to the fateful day of February 23rd or to find themselves after the war ends, so they can return home. But where is home, and how can they shelter themselves from this horrific reality? When will the war end? What if? Are we there yet? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg as they relive their traumas, reflecting the experience of thousands of refugees and echoing the voices of those who are still in Ukraine.

ukrainian teen

The TUT project is created, directed and curated by actor and pedagogue Anya Zicer who has developed a unique method of working with teenagers in the field of educational drama as part of her theater company, Lost & Found Project. The award-winning company was founded in 2011 but at the beginning of the war in 2022 refocused its work on raising awareness as well as producing several productions in support of Ukraine. The project is also led by actor/teaching artist Dima Koan and musician/composer Mariya Vasilevskaya.

Everything Yana, a 13-year-old Ukrainian refugee, knew about public schools in the United States was what she had seen on television or in the movies, often idyllic settings where teenage conflict and angst ironed itself out by the end.

Then the bombs started falling after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Yana and her mom fled for their lives in March, leaving friends, family and the memories of a typical teenage life filled with choir practice, art classes and homework.

The teen, who was identified as Andrii Pokrasa, said he was asked by civil defense officials to help provide GPS coordinates of Russian troops moving toward the capital. Ukrainian troops then used the information to shell their position.

The teen said he began piloting the commercial drone last year, but that once the war began, neighbors became concerned that the hobby could make the area a target. Pokrasa and his father then began flying it from a field at night.

Masha, Dasha and Jenya walk around Kutaisi, Georgia, where they live as refugees since the war in Ukraine started. The teenagers attend the public school #13 in Kutaisi, where they met and became friends. They come from different cities of Ukraine.

The teens said they would love to make a bigger difference in their community. Asya admitted that sometimes the programs she participates in at Tolerspace feel too small to truly be able to make a difference.

The tryouts are gruelling, with four rounds of cuts against about 180 teens, a U18 AAA camp with the top 60, a game with the top 40, and then a week-long camp for the best 26 players. From the camp, the coaches select their 20-player team.

Kovalenko returned to making films, driven by the belief that the silver screen can be an equally effective weapon to fight the enemy as she tells the story of five teenagers determined to pursue their dreams despite the carnage of war that envelops their worlds. 041b061a72


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