This powerful theatre project makes you a protester in the 2014 Ukrainian crisis

Meet the creators of Counting Sheep, an award-winning "guerrilla folk opera" that immerses audiences in the crisis in Ukraine.

You might not sleep after Counting Sheep — the show throws you into Kyiv's 2014 uprising

This powerful theatre project makes you a protester in the crisis in Ukraine

6 years ago
Duration 3:52
Meet the creators of Counting Sheep, an award-winning "guerrilla folk opera" that immerses audiences in the crisis in Ukraine.

When words couldn't describe what they experienced, Mark and Marichka Marczyk turned to music. In 2014, the artists were in the middle of Kyiv's Independence Square during the protests that preceded the current crisis in Ukraine.

Hundreds died in demonstrations against the pro-Kremlin government, and as the conflict continues, the civilian death toll is still growing. According to a UN report, 9,553 people have been killed in the conflict in Ukraine from mid-April 2014 to July 31, 2016.

In response to what they experienced, the husband-and-wife duo — who met during the protests — created Counting Sheep, a "guerrilla folk opera" that transports audiences to the middle of Kyiv's central square during the uprising. 

A lot of this play is kind of us voicing that trauma — trying to express what it was that we felt as opposed to, like, 'Here are the facts; this is what happened.'- Mark Marczyk

Counting Sheep is not the kind of show where you sit back and watch. As an audience member, you're immersed in the protest and can choose how much you want to participate — which could mean waltzing joyfully with a member of The Lemon Bucket Orkestra (the band developed the show with the Marczyks), throwing foam bricks at the riot police, processing in the funeral of a fallen demonstrator, or watching poignant footage of the real events on video screens above your head.

In this video shot and edited by Istoica, Mark and Marichka speak about their own experience during the protests, and why it is important for audiences — especially in Canada — to understand this significant part of Ukraine's history.

Counting Sheep is currently on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Counting Sheep. Directed by Mark Marczyk. Presented by Lemon Bucket Orkestra in association with Aurora Nova. To August 29. Wed-Mon 8pm; Sat & Sun mats 2pm. £13. Summerhall at The King's Hall, 41A South Clerk, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Watch Exhibitionists Sundays at 4:30pm (5 NT) on CBC.


Mercedes Grundy is a producer for CBC's Unscripted division. She has played an integral role in the creation of series like Exhibitionists, The Filmmakers and Canada's a Drag as well as special projects like Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Grundy 5 Canadian Screen Awards. She has an educational background in photography, and produces film and theatre when not busy here at the CBC.


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