In 1929, Ukrainians were discovering the joys of jazz and singing the stories of their city of Kharkiv. The audiences loved the show’s catchy songs, wild dances and dazzling sets. The Communist Party bosses did not, so the show and its artists disappeared in Stalin’s purges. A few years ago, Virlana Tkacz, Yara’s director, discovered the conductor’s score hidden in an archive.
Radio 477! is a new show created by Yara Arts Group and Ukrainian artists about the city of Kharkiv, its jazz history, and how it stood up to Putin today. With texts and lyrics by award-winning Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan, music by Anthony Coleman, it is directed by Virlana Tkacz.
SATURDAY, MARCH 11 AT 7 PM
Ukraine’s Serhiy Zhadan and American poet Reginald Dwayne Betts will read following opening night performance of RADIO 477!
Serhiy Zhadan, one of Ukraine’s most dynamic poets and novelists, and a key figure in his country’s anti-war efforts, will be joined on stage by his American colleague Reginald Dwayne Betts at La MaMa (66 E 4 St.) following the opening night performance of the resurrected production of the long-lost Ukrainian jazz musical RADIO 477! on March 11 at 7PM.
Mr. Zhadan has provided text and poetry to the new production of RADIO 477! – which has not been performed since it was destroyed by Stalin and his cronies during the dictator’s purge of Ukraine in the 1920’s. He began a gripping exchange of letters about ‘war and words’ with Mr. Betts, whose writing draws on his experience having become a poet during his imprisonment in the U.S. Mr. Betts is now a legal scholar and teaches literature and writing to the incarcerated. That exchange between Zhadan and Betts was facilitated by the noted Holocaust historian Timothy Snyder, and Marci Shore, a professor of intellectual history. Both are on the faculty of Yale University. Zhadan is the author of numerous editions of poetry and several novels, and is the front man for a Ukrainian rock band. A popular figure credited with having helped change the course of Ukrainian writing with his young, experimental works starting in 1990, Serhiy Zhadan has also been instrumental in organizing his fellow writers and artists as they provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians during the war.
Photo of 1929 show, graphic by Waldemart Klyuzko
Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York, creates visually stunning theatre pieces that explore contemporary and traditional cultures of the East. Find out more at www.yaraartsgroup.net
Polish Cultural Institute NYC produced the work-in-progress of "Radio 477" that was showcased at the Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival at the Bohemian Hall on June 17th, 2022.