The Royal Court theatre in London is presenting a day of solidarity with Ukraine that includes a reading on its main stage of Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s play Bad Roads, which explores the brutal effects of war on personal relationships. The reading, at 8pm on 1 April, will be livestreamed on the Guardian website – including in a captioned version – and available again on 2 April to watch for a week.
Bad Roads was first staged at the Royal Court in 2017 in a translation by Sasha Dugdale. Vorozhbit, an acclaimed Ukrainian playwright whose work has also been performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, wove documentary stories of Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and Donbas into its impressionistic scenes. Bad Roads explores daily life under siege, hostage-taking, journalism on the frontline, PTSD and sex at a time of war.
Vorozhbit’s previous plays include a verbatim-style drama resulting from testimonies she took from protesters at the Ukrainian capital Kyiv’s Maidan square in 2013 and 2014. At a time of fake news, her commitment to oral history in drama has had a “vital importance in the information war” wrote Dugdale for the Guardian in 2017. “By stressing the sexual and the female in her study of war, Natal’ya haunts us all with the power of conflict to warp modern society,” added Dugdale. “War, as she explained [in rehearsals for Bad Roads in 2017], returns us to the most intense feelings of hate and love.” The Royal Court’s artistic director, Vicky Featherstone, who staged the original production, directs the reading.
The event marks the first major UK presentation of Ukrainian plays since Russia’s invasion began in February. Ticket buyers and those watching the free Bad Roads stream will also be invited to donate to Unicef UK’s fundraising appeal to protect children in Ukraine. Ticket revenue will contribute towards supporting the Ukrainian artists involved in the event.