7 In Your Neighborhood: International Voices Project

June 2, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The play is called "Pagans." It's one of only five written by a young Ukrainian playwright who met an untimely demise.

"Anna (Yablonskaya) was heading to Moscow to receive an award, an international award on play writing at a very young age, and she died in a bombing at the Moscow airport, a great loss because she really represented a voice of modern Ukraine," said Patrizia Acerra, executive director of the International Voices Project.

The reading of her work is being presented as part of the International Voices Project.

"The International Voices Project is a series of concert readings in the summer held in collaboration with consulates throughout the city and cultural institutions like the Ukrainian Institute and it exists to celebrate the voices of international playwrights," Acerra said. "It's often a challenge for theater artists to obtain translations of new work that's going on around the world so we work to get them commissioned and then bring them to Chicago."

For the first time, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art is collaborating with the three-year-old project. It expects the cultural significance of the event to have a far-reaching impact.

"Every six weeks or so we have an exhibit of artists throughout the entire world not necessarily Ukrainian, like right now we have Chicago artists being exhibited here," said the museum's Helen Pryma. "We are constantly looking for new venue of exposing ourselves as an institution."

The play's director adds that even those who are not part of the Ukrainian community can find common ground.

"It's interesting because there's a lot of texture and flavor to the script that obviously deals from a Ukrainian standpoint, but it isn't so specific that it's not also universal," said Adam Webster, director of "Pagans."

The International Voices Project runs through mid-July and will include works representing Egypt, Argentina, Germany and several other countries. The Ukrainian presentation will take place on Friday, June 8th. All of the performances are free.

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