Will Taylor, Freedom Ambassador, attended the opening performance of Counting Sheep. Here he writes what it was really like to be an audience member thrust into the heart of a revolution.
“Fresh from a sell-out, five-star run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, Counting Sheep has come to Freedom Festival. This Ukrainian ‘folk-opera’ is a retelling of the Maidan revolution of 2014, set to the ‘guerrilla-folk party-punk’ sounds of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra. The audience is thrust straight into the action in a highly immersive production, exploring the extreme highs and lows experienced whilst living in a revolution.
“I came to this production not knowing at all what to expect, and I was certainly surprised when I was ushered to a seat around a large table where traditional Ukrainian food and drink was being served. A mixture of audience and actors, we started on the feast, and soon the cast broke out into song. Before long we were all dancing, singing and partying away! However, the evening soon took a darker twist, as real-life news coverage and found-footage of the revolution that began in 2013 was projected onto three large screens surrounding the tables.
“Although the songs and the speech were not in English, the visual work and intimacy of the production helped to give a clear insight into the lives of those who lived in the Maidan revolution. We followed the action as the revolution picked up speed and the intensity of the performance made it easy to believe that we really were in the middle of the barricades. Inspired by the real-life experiences lived by the Ukrainian-born leader of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra Mark Marczyk and his wife, it was clear the show holds a special significance to the cast.
“This is a deeply moving, thought-provoking show that will make you both laugh and cry, and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Counting Sheep’s exploration of freedom in a political revolution gets straight to the heart of Freedom Festival, and I couldn’t think of a show more fitting to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this wonderful festival.”