Digital Program Booklet „Ха́та – Zuhause“

Read here a statement of the director Kamilė Gudmonaitė about her production “Ха́та – Zuhause”!

Anger. Grief. Guilt.

About the tightrope walk of a theater project that talks about war in war.

„Ха́та – Zuhause“ invited Ukrainians and Russians living here in Munich to participate in a theater project at the Münchner Kammerspiele. This participation did not bring the two groups together, that would currently be impossible for traumatized war refugees from Ukraine, so separate rehearsals, separate interviews, separate parts in the performance.

Nevertheless, the Lithuanian director Kamile Gudmonaite has made an attempt to describe the abyss that this war has opened up in a different way with the help of her art. This is deeply touching, sometimes almost unbearably beautiful when there is singing or dancing. And it leaves us with completely different thoughts than all the news and live tickers we are flooded with every day. We listen here to individual people telling their stories, talking about their destroyed identities, their escape, their losses, their hatred, their pain, their sense of guilt, their shame. Again and again, the rift of this war goes right through the family stories, and that already over generations.

This war in Ukraine has a prehistory: the constantly growing repression and oppression in Putin’s Russia, which we in Germany did not take seriously, but which for many Russians meant that they lost their homes. The history also includes the fact that in 2014, when Crimea was annexed by Russian soldiers and the war in Ukraine actually began, no one in Germany went to the barricades.

The view of the hell of war in this performance is devastating from both sides, none of the participants here can discover any sense in it. Above all, the Ukrainians are paying for this war with many dead, they were attacked. There is no doubt about that.

We Germans are witnesses, not directly affected, but deeply involved. “This war is not our war, we must avoid being drawn into it.” We often hear sentences like these in Germany. They are only partly true, because the war’s distortions, the wounds are also breaking open in Munich. We are called upon to show solidarity, our looking is required, also an attitude.

In February 2023, there were 25,000 people from Ukraine registered as war refugees in Munich, but there are many more Ukrainians living here, there is a Ukrainian university, Kyiv is Munich’s twin city. But there are also more than 17,000 Russians living in Munich.

In these times, it has become almost impossible to separate the space of art from the space of propaganda. But the space of art must remain open. In this piece, Russians express themselves, although many Ukrainians find this difficult to bear. But these Russians speak for themselves as people, because “the Russians” do not exist anymore than “the Ukrainians” do. They Russian participants think about personal guilt, even shame, ask themselves what they have done to resist the Putin system. They risk that their appearance will have consequences for them personally. What would be gained if Russians no longer risked counter-speech? This piece shows the reflection of Ukrainians and Russians about the question of a Russian collective guilt. We Germans have all had to deal with the question of collective guilt. In the Second World War, we were the invaders, in Russia and in Ukraine, we have incurred the heaviest guilt. But there was also an attempt to learn from history, or hopefully there still is.

This piece is an invitation to understanding. And not a “lecture”, initiated by us Germans, about how a “dialogue”, how possibly the way to peace could look like.

Our positions in this war are different, the position of the Ukrainians, the Russians, the position of the Lithuanian director and our position as Germans. At the end of this performance there is perhaps a silence because there is no solution, because we have looked the horror in the eye. But it is different from the burdening, repressing silence, the cold silence.

Viola Hasselberg

A painting by Sergiy Vasylkivskiy shows an old farmhouse. In front of it four people are loading a wagon.

Painting: Sergiy Vasylkivskiy

Ха́та is an ancient word that exists in many Slavic languages, including Russian and Ukrainian. It means cottage, home, hut or even hovel. During the interviews conducted by director Kamilė Gudmonaitė in Munich in November 2022, we were left with the story of a Ukrainian man that led to this title of the play. He told about his grandmother’s house in a village in the Zaporizhia region, a refuge for him within a complicated world and a conflicted family history. He left the house on the eve of the Russian attack on Ukraine in February 2022 and never returned because his grandmother’s house was destroyed by a bomb that also killed her. The house is irretrievably lost, he has to build his own home, start over at a completely different point.

In June 2023, Ukrainian author Oksana Sabushko writes in her letter to Dutch writer Arnon Grunberg: “Thousands of books and films about the Nazis and the Holocaust have not helped Europe to recognize the swelling of a new fascist empire on its doorstep, which has been going on for thirty years, and have not stopped it from taking, as if spellbound, the same measures of appeasement that it had taken toward the Third Reich in the 1930s - until the moment when this new empire was ready to drive its tank into the house of Europe.” The letter belongs to the project “Letters on democracy”.

This text is five years old; everything has turned out worse than Alexijewitsch foresaw. On the occasion of her 70th birthday in 2018, the author talks to Deutsche Welle. She wonders why suffering in Russia is not turning into freedom? She analyzes a time of hardship in which the fear of Russia is systematically used as a means to maintain power, reports on the state of war and missed opportunities.

Read the text on the Deutsche Welle site here!

The director Kamilė Gudmonaitė interviewed Ukrainians and Russians from Munich about the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine from autumn 2022 to spring 2023. The interviews meet a Ukrainian choir and Russian dancers in two strictly separated parts in “Ха́та - Zuhause”. Collective art forms - fed by the history of the respective country - meet individual experiences of the present. Because a people consists of many individuals. They all shape the future.

In part 1 of the theater evening, Ukrainians talk about how Russia’s war of aggression affects their lives.

In part 2 of the theater evening, Russians living in Munich who have turned their backs on their country take a position on the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine.