"We Were Stepping Over Dead Bodies”: Mariupol Actors Staged a Documentary Play to Recreate the Nightmare They Went Through

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"We Were Stepping Over Dead Bodies”: Mariupol Actors Staged a Documentary Play to Recreate the Nightmare They Went Through

Photo: Associated Press

They escaped from hell and now they want the whole world to know the truth. The actors of the Mariupol Drama Theater destroyed by Russian troops, reenact the events of that bloody spring on stage of Uzhhorod theater.

The script for the Mariupol Drama performance is a 50-hour interview with those who survived the Mariupol Drama Theater bombing on March 16th. The play is a documentary and is based on real events only, TSN reports.

An explosion, frantic screams and hundreds of bloodied bodies: for the first time in their lives, the actors are not performing their roles, but recalling what they went through themselves. The scene recreates the events of March 16th, when the Russian pilots dropped a super-powerful bomb on Mariupol Drama Theater building. During the bombing, over one thousand people were hiding in the theater from artillery shells. Actors how now appears on the stage were one of them. "The wrought-iron door was ripped out and folded like a piece of paper. People upstairs were screaming, and then there was silence," an actor says. 

"The basement was filled with clouds of dust, and then suddenly someone said: 'No more drama,'" a voice from the stage says.

This documentary play is a true story of how the residents of devastated  city were drinking rainwater and sharing a small piece of cheese into four; of how hundreds of people hiding in the theater basement from the so-called Russian world, prayed aloud daily in the darkness to the whistles of falling bombs. 

"Please turn on the lights, turn on the lights... People were everywhere, they were next to the walls, next to the windows, among our scenery sets," an actor says.

The audience gives a standing ovation and cannot hold back tears. "The Russian will be held accountable. We will hold them accountable whatever it takes, because we have the witnesses, because the truth is on our side, because Ukraine will win anyway”, one of the audience says. 

The Mariupol Drama director says that there is not a single fictional episode in the whole paly. The script is based on the interview with the actors who survived the actual events: they survived in Mariupol under artillery shellfire, they were hiding in the theater basement, they hoped till the very last moment that they would have a chance to stay in their home city, but eventually they had to run away from the invader rule. "It's a true story, it's an evidence, it's a message to let the world know that the Mariupol Drama Theater is alive," Yevhenii Tishchuk, the director, stresses. 

"We didn't add any sentence that wasn't there, any fact that wasn't there. It's what people saw with their own eyes, what they experienced personally, what they felt," Oleksnadr Gavrosh, the playwright, says.

The actors confess that this is the most difficult performance of their lives. They want to forget the horrors of their experience, but even more they want the whole world to know about the atrocities committed by the Russian troop. "A girl was killed there, people were... We were stepping over dead bodies. We jumped out, ten more people followed us with suitcases, and then the artillery shelling started," actress Vera recalls. 

"At the moment when you understand that the building is collapsing on you, you immediately remember your childhood, you immediately think of your mother,", Mariupol residents say.

These people managed to survive the ordeal, but many Mariupol residents weren’t that lucky. This play is about those those who fell victims of the Russian aggression, who defended the city and was captured prisoner, those living under invader rule and waiting for liberation of their home city.

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