News: Ukrainian Teens to Perform "Mom on Skype" at Brookyln's Irondale, August 13 and 14


Irondale, Brooklyn’s leading theatrical and artistically ambitious think-tank theater ensemble, has invited nine teens from Ukraine’s The School of Open-Minded Kids Studio Theater, located in Lviv, to present the United States premiere of Mom on Skype on August 13-14. Previously directed by an active-duty Ukrainian solider, Oleg Onechchak, and performed in a warehouse-turned-bomb-shelter in Lviv in April, the play features a range of stories about family separation as told from the perspective of children.

The teens' time in NY will be a chance to tell their story without the threat and fear of war, and thanks to the Irondale Ensemble Project, they will have a safe theater to do it in and will spend time working alongside both the Irondale Ensemble and the Irondale Young Company. . The cast has arrived in the U.S. and are currently in Ivoryton, CT at a musical theater sleep-away camp with Young at Arts in partnership with Sing for Hope. When they return here to NYC, they will experience the cultural riches of our city: Broadway, museums, Coney Island, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and more. After Brooklyn, they will bring their play to Philadelphia, Hartford, and Boston, hoping to raise money for the defense of their nation.

The piece Mom on Skype (Mama Po Skaipu), written collaboratively by a dozen Ukrainian writers, was performed by a cast of nine children, ages 10-14 and closed with a patriotic song performed by Oneshchak's 12-year-old daughter, Hanna, while bombs fell around them. Sheltering in a warehouse in fear for their safety, the performance still remains one of the few cultural events the metropolis has seen since the war broke out on February 24, 2022. Offering both performers and audiences a temporary moment of happiness and hope, the one-hour show made headlines despite its many risks.

“When I read about this incredible performance in The New York Times in April, I felt inspired that once again, theater was bringing hope and a needed kindness to the world,” explains Terry Greiss, Irondale’s Executive Director. “The next day we tracked down Oleg on social media and sent him a note of admiration. After lots of conversation and planning, we are so humbled and excited to bring this project to Brooklyn. We are honored to give these teens a theater, an audience, and an opportunity here in our space to continue to use their voices to raise awareness and call for peace.”

“We have spent the last forty years making theater that looks at, and urges discussion about the injustices of the world,” adds Jim Niesen, the company’s Artistic Director. “The power and importance of this project prevailed in spite of the grave injustices happening in Lviv and all over Ukraine. Let this trip be a needed respite and a mark of solidarity for all of us.”

“The teenagers started to prepare for the play in January. It was originally about the topic of social orphanhood as a consequence of labor migration and more broadly, the communication gap between parents and children,” explains director Oleg Oneshchak. “Now under the Russian military aggression, the play has taken on completely different meanings, and the separation they face now is a result of new circumstances. Our children realize our path to peace lies through victory and they are a part of helping our army make our sky safe again.”

Mom on Skype will be performed August 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. The piece will be performed in Ukrainian with English subtitles, and the cast and creative team will host a Q+A discussion following the performance.

Purchase tickets here. All proceeds from tickets sales will be donated to Ukrainian defense and humanitarian organizations.

Irondale also continues to raise funds to support the cost to transport and house the ensemble and their chaperones. Donate here.


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