‘Cry of a Nation’: Vasyl Stus’s Enduring Legacy – Echoes of Relevance in Today’s Turbulent Times

We are delighted to share information about an upcoming event organized by the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA) Branch #56 honoring the lasting influence of Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus. His steadfast commitment to Ukrainian culture and human rights reverberates strongly amidst today’s tumultuous backdrop of war. Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 23, 2024, at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church Hall, where you can immerse yourself in the gripping narrative of ‘Cry of a Nation.’

The Event Details:

  • Date: Saturday, March 23, 2024
  • Location: St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church Hall, Corner of Biscayne Rd. and Price Blvd., North Port, Florida
  • Time: Doors open at 4:30 PM | Performance begins at 5:00 PM
  • Suggested $20 donation per person at the door – donations will be to the UNWLA Branch 56. (Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, Inc. is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization under IRS Code 501 (c) 3.)
  • The “honored” actress Ludmilla Kolosovych will be performing gratis for the audience

A Dramatic Performance by Honored Actress of Ukraine, Ludmilla Kolosovych

‘Cry of a Nation’ is a captivating exploration into the life of the resilient and courageous poet Vasyl Stus, weaving a narrative that resonates with the challenges faced by today’s Ukrainians. Stus’s legacy reverberates amidst Ukraine’s ongoing fight for freedom, drawing parallels between his relentless pursuit to preserve Ukrainian culture through social activism and Ukraine’s contemporary battle against Russian aggression.

Ludmilla Kolosovych, Honored Actress of Ukraine, will illuminate Stus’s enduring influence and connections to the present through a dramatic monologue in a multimedia setting.  Promising to be a powerful homage, Kolosovych’s presentation is poised to inspire Ukrainians in their ongoing fight to preserve their freedom and culture. Ludmilla Kolosovych will narrate in Ukrainian, with her former choreographer and assistant, Natalia Kapshyshak, providing English translations to ensure a profound and accessible experience for all attendees.

    Read on to learn more about Vasyl Stus and Ludmilla Kolosovych.

    Vasyl Stus: A Beacon of Courage

    Vasyl Stus

    Portrait of Vasyl Stus
    (Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. See full citation at end of story.)

    Vasyl Stus, a symbol of Ukrainian resilience, was born in 1938 in the Ukrainian Oblast of Vinnytsia, then part of the Soviet Union. Stus pursued higher education at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, where he delved into literature and philosophy, fostering a deep appreciation for cultural identity. His unwavering dedication to preserving and promoting Ukrainian culture during the Soviet era was profound.

    Stus’s literary prowess and commitment to Ukrainian nationalism led him to engage in dissident activities against the Soviet regime, using his poetry as a platform. His works, characterized by profound reflections on the human condition, resonated deeply with his fellow Ukrainians, capturing the essence of their struggles during Soviet oppression.

    Despite facing persecution from the Soviet regime, including harassment, imprisonment, and forced exile, Stus remained resolute in his convictions and continued to write. Tragically, Stus’s life was prematurely cut short on September 4, 1985, when he died in solitary confinement at the age of 47. 

    Throughout Stus’s lifetime, the Soviet authorities heavily censored and destroyed his writings due to their perceived dissident nature. But much of his work has survived despite these efforts, enduring as a beacon of hope for current and future generations of Ukrainians.

    Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Ukraine’s subsequent independence, his writings were gradually rediscovered and published more widely. Today, Vasyl Stus is revered worldwide as a courageous poet and a national hero whose poetry serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of Ukrainian culture. Across generations and geographical boundaries, Stus’s work continues to inspire, igniting a flame of hope and defiance against oppression. His writing is a poignant reminder of literature’s remarkable ability to uplift and empower, offering solace and strength even in the darkest of times.

    As we reflect on the life and enduring influence of Vasyl Stus, we cannot ignore the parallels between his struggles and the ongoing challenges facing Ukraine. The oppressive regime Stus confronted during the Soviet era casts a chilling shadow over the trials endured by Ukrainians today. Yet, just as Stus and his compatriots fearlessly resisted tyranny through their art and activism, today’s Ukrainians stand resolute in their collective resolve to safeguard their independence and unique culture. In the face of adversity, they personify unwavering resilience and courage, embodying the essence of Stus’s poetry and the timeless pursuit of freedom.

    Unveiling The Artist Behind ‘Cry of a Nation’

    Ludmilla Kolosovych, Honored Actress of Ukraine.

    Ludmilla Kolosovych is a multi-talented artist with a distinguished career spanning several decades. Born on September 9, 1963, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Kolosovych’s passion for the arts emerged early. She ignited her professional journey in the performing arts world by enrolling at the Dnipro State Theater School and graduating with honors, laying the foundation for a remarkable career. Kolosovych’s talent and dedication led her to become a leading actress at the Lviv Young Spectator Theater, where she dedicated nearly two decades of her life.

    She further expanded her creative horizons as the Artistic Director at the Lesya Ukrainka Lviv Drama Theater and has showcased her directorial prowess by staging productions at many other Ukrainian drama theaters, including the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre in Mariupol . Kolosovych has also shared her knowledge and expertise with aspiring actors through teaching engagements in Lviv, Kyiv, and Mariupol.

     In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the theatrical arts, she was bestowed with the prestigious title of ‘Honored Actress of Ukraine.’

    Ludmilla Kolosovych’s Journey from Devastation to Inspiration

    Kolosovych has continued her artistic journey despite the ongoing war, turning pain into performance. She was living in Mariupol, Ukraine, when the city was under devastating attacks in the early months of the war, bearing witness to the destruction of the Mariupol Theater where she directed. Just four months after the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre in Mariupol was leveled by Russian forces, Kolosovych, alongside a resilient ensemble of actors, premiered ‘Cry of a Nation’ to honor the legacy of Vasyl Stus — and now she brings the story to audiences in the United States and beyond.

    The upcoming event will be a solo performance by Ludmilla Kolosovych, but her dream is to bring the other actors of the full ensemble “Cry of the Nation” to the United States for performances. 

    Kolosovych’s commitment to preserving Ukrainian culture and her resilience in the face of such adversity epitomizes the enduring spirit of the Ukrainian people.

    Sources

    Memory of Nations. “Kolosovych, Ludmyla (Kolosovych, Lyudmila) (1963).” Memory of Nations, March 4, 2024, https://www.memoryofnations.eu/en/kolosovich-ludmyla-kolosovychlyudmila-1963

    Euromaidan Press. “How Ukraine’s Vasyl Stus used poems to fight the Soviet regime.” Euromaidan Press, March 4, 2024, https://iwpr.net/global-voices/mariupol-theatres-actorsinterpret-cry-nation

    LA Review of Books. “Thriving in Isolation and Beyond: The Empowering Poetry of Vasyl Stus.” LA Review of Books, March 4, 2024, https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/thriving-inisolation-and-beyond-the-empowering-poetry-of-vasyl-stus/

    Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) Museum. “Vasyl Stus.” Accessed on March 5, 2024, https://museum.khpg.org/en/1114000264

    We Are Ukraine. (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved March 6, 2024, from https://www.weareukraine.info/about-us/

    Images:

    Image of Vasyl Stus is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The image displayed: Vasyl Stus’s portrait on permanent exhibition in Boyko Museum in Dolyna from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EthnoCarpathians_22082017DolynaUA-26.jpg cropped and fixed by User:Dgho. No additional changes to this image have been made.

    Image of Ludmilla Kolosovych provided courtesy of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UHWLA).

    Key visual licensed from Shutterstock.