Institutional Theatre


Igor Krykunov and Daniela Mitrović

The Romance Theatre

The first and only professional national Roma theatre in Ukraine was established in 1994, working in the genres of classical romance, musical drama, and national folklore. Only the best, original examples of Roma musical culture were presented to audiences worldwide, from America to Israel.

The artists of this theatre have played more than 15 roles in musicals and films such as Tsyganka Aya, Gory Dymiat, Chardash Monti, Nazar Stodolia and Bukhta Smerti, cultivating a rich wealth of experience. In 2003, the theatre was operated by the state and now operates privately.

The ‘Romance’ theatre is the creative and mentally stimulating centre around which the highly professional representatives of the Roma art, famous for their achievement and success in many countries of the world, have united. While collaborating with artistic agencies in Ukraine and other countries, the theatre directs its activity towards production as well as the aesthetic development and professional education of talented Roma youth.

On their tenth anniversary, they established the Order of Roma friendship ‘Amala’ on the main stage of the ‘Ukraina’ National Palace of Arts in Kiev. This was awarded to famous personalities for their great contribution to preserving the spiritual source of the Roma people.

The theatre’s musical performances are an unusual approach to classical literature from the global perspective of a true Roma – the People’s Artist of Ukraine Igor Krikunov. He is proud not only of his nationality but of the fact that it was Roma culture that had a great influence on the creative work of great people of all times: Pushkin, Nikolai Leskov, Paganini, Tolstoy, Aleksandr Kuprin, Mikhail Staritsky, García Lorca, Liszt ...

The theatre as a whole and Igor Krikunov personally have received awards ‘for increasing wellbeing and peace on the Earth’.

The Gypsy Muse (by Lina Kostenko)

This is based on the true life-story of the Roma poet Papusha (see: Bronisława Wajs), who lived in Poland in the middle of the twentieth century. Igor Krikunov considers her poem ‘The Gypsy Bible’ vividly depicts the despair and rise of a concrete worker who questions the relations between an individual and her people. The main female character Papusha has risen above the lack of understanding, the humiliation of her native people, the pain of being reviled, the hopelessness of her expulsion, and could say all over the world: ‘I belong to my people that has doomed me to pain, to dumbness! I love its songs, its sorrow and beauty! And I hate its endless darkness!’

The Legend of a Violin (by Igor Krikunov)

As director Krikunov stated: ‘The fact that the Gypsy has influenced Nicolo Paganini’s creative work greatly is historically proven. My main character wants to live the last hours of his life (even if in imagination) with somebody who will not destroy, crush “his own, personal fragile world”. The great maestro Paganini, his love, his mysterious soul, his music, that is my main character’s choice. And mine, as a director, too. Because the absurdity of the surrounding world, its unsoundness, sometimes makes a person go into his imagination and to cherish his world in it. The world of Paganini’s music and the world of the music of my people are closely connected with each other – by the Violin! The legend of it is in my performance.’

The Ode to Romance (by Igor Krikunov)

According to the author of the idea and the production director I. Krikunov:

‘While studying the history of the romance, you become witness to the fact that all great classics of literature, poets and musicians created their masterpieces under the influence of the romance. ... The main idea is to oppose the high poetic word and music to modern “cheap pop” and to bring romance into the hearts of the modern audience.’

The artistic concert programme is an unusual festival for those who love Roma violins and guitars, rousing Roma dances, and the art of eternal romance. The careful and reverent guardian of this programme is artist Liudmila Krikunova.

The International Festival of Gypsy Art in Ukraine ‘Amala’ (friends)

The Festival was established in 2000 by the Roma theatre ‘Romance’ and the PeopleatrArtist of Ukraine, the theatrers president Igor Krikunov, by the instrumentality of the Direction of Culture and Arts of the Kiev City Administration, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and the International Fund ‘Vozrozhdenie’.

The first festival, ‘Amala-2000’, which took place in Ukraine’s capital Kiev, brought together members and guests from 12 counties including Russia, the Republic of Macedonia and other countries of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Spain, Moldova, India ... The professional collectives and performers, with whom the theatre had became acquainted during international festivals in Europe, represent the Roma art of different districts and regions, different genres and stylistic orientations in Ukraine.

Thanks to the efforts of the festivalff organizers, the Ukrainian audience could get acquainted with the creative work of the unique European collectives and performers: the group ‘Romano Rat’, Ida Kelarova (the Czech Republic), ‘Amala’, ‘Traia Brizani’ (Slovenia), ‘Neve Roma’ (Bulgaria), the Novkovych Orchestra (Yugoslavia), ‘Suit Ispanol’ (Spain), the Theatre Romen (Russia), Raisa Udovikova (Norway) and many others.

On 12 and 13 September 2008, by the instrumentality of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ukraine and the Main Direction of Culture and Arts of the Kiev City Administration, the Eleventh International Festival of Gypsy Art ‘Amala-2008’ was held in Kiev.

In the festival, there were concert performances by the collectives with participants from Ukraine, Russia, Ireland and France, as well as a roundtable and press conference in which the leaders of the creative teams and public Roma organizations participated.

Although the festival took place in a concert hall intended to hold 500, about 150 participants and more than 2,000 spectators took part.

The art of the unique Roma collectives and performers ‘Loyko’ by Sergei Erdenko, ‘Russka Roma’ by Igor Sakizchi, ‘Arbat’ by Jan Mary Ros, ‘Sandzhary’, the Ivantsovy, the Chukalenko dynasty, the theatre ‘Romance’ won the hearts of appreciative spectators.

By tradition, during the festival, the Order of the Roma friendship ‘Amala’ ‘for a worthy contribution to the development of gypsy culture’ was awarded to the founder of the Roma dynasty Aleksandr Chukalenko the Older, the son Aleksandr and granddaughter Elena, who were familiar to the Ukrainian audience through their many musical television projects.

For the Ninth Festival, the Hymn of the Festival ‘Amala’, already well-known in Europe and written by the Roma poet Mikhail Kozimirenko, Aleksandr Chukalenko the Younger) and the famous producer Dmitriy Klimashenko, was performed on the stage.

The festival ended with the traditional entertainment programme, where intimates and friends of all the participants, who unanimously joined in with heart and soul to express their gratitude and paid tribute personally to the organizers of the festival and to its founder and president, Peoplers Artist of Ukraine Igor Krikunov.

The festival, which was established by the only state Roma theatre in Ukraine, ‘Romance’, and the public organization The National and Cultural Union ‘Amala’, successfully achieved its purpose.

The Festival ‘Amala’ is approaching its eighteenth anniversary and looks forward to making the acquaintance of interesting new collectives and performers, whose talent and professionalism are laid at the altar of the world’s Roma art.

Rights held by: Igor Krykunov — Daniela Mitrović | Licensed by: Igor Krykunov — Daniela Mitrović | Licensed under: CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International | Provided by: RomArchive