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Lesser-Known Players' "Forest Song" Springs Up in Portland

Rare English-language translation of a much-beloved Ukrainian classic will make sponsored appearance on May 26.

Lesser-Known Players'
Portland, OR, May 07, 2018 --( The Lesser-Known Players’ popular production of Lesya Ukrainka’s “Forest Song,” which opened to rave reviews last winter near Seattle, will make a special sponsored appearance in Portland on May 26th at 4pm at Warner Pacific University’s McGuire Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now at:

“It is an honor to share this magical work with a wider audience,” said director Jennifer Hodges. “Forest Song’s enthusiastic reception, and the support of our sponsors in bringing it to the Portland community, are testaments to the beauty of this play and the timelessness of its message.”

“Forest Song,” written by Ukrainian playwright Lesya Ukrainka in 1911, is about a forest nymph, Mavka, who falls in love with a mortal youth, Lukash, and the clash of values and cultures that results from their union. “To use a familiar Western playwright’s works for comparison, ‘Forest Song’ is part ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream, and part 'Romeo & Juliet,' with beautiful music and some surprisingly contemporary themes about freedom, and conservation of nature, mixed in,” said Hodges. An original score by composer and music director Jon Brenner, written with a nod to Ukrainian folk music and classical composers, makes “Forest Song” a draw for music lovers as well as theatre fans.

Hodges admits another draw. "One of my favorite aspects of 'Forest Song' is its 'impossible' stage directions! Characters fly onto the stage, swim up out of the water, and capture fireflies and wear them in their hair...there's even a house fire! Bringing these magical elements to life onstage was a creative challenge I just couldn't resist."

The magic of 'Forest Song' was not lost on its sponsors. "My family and I traveled from Vancouver to see this production's debut on Bainbridge Island," said Oleksander Moskal, Vice President of the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Oregon and Regional Manager of the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, a chief sponsor of the event. "We fell in love with it, and I knew I had to be a part of bringing it to Portland. This play is so important to Ukrainian culture that our children study it in school. Bringing this English-language production to Portland allows us to share the magic of this play, and through it, an important part of Ukrainian culture and history, with our American friends."

Hodges, a third-generation Ukrainian American and a longtime admirer of the play and playwright, spent years searching for just the right translation to produce locally. She found it in one developed by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps of Yara Arts Group in New York under a grant from the National Theatre Translation Fund. Yara Arts Group is a resident company at La MaMa E.T.C., recipient of the 2018 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

Tickets to “Forest Song’s” May 26 performance are made available at low cost to the Portland community through support from local sponsors Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, Choice One Insurance, Powell Family Dental, Nashe Radio, and Custom MB Sprinters. After Portland, “Forest Song” will return to Seattle for a two-week run July 13-22 at the Erickson Theatre Off-Broadway.

The Lesser-Known Players is a Bainbridge Island -based 501(c)(3) nonprofit performing arts organization dedicated to bringing lesser-known works of artistic and literary merit to a wider audience, and to fostering connections between the music and theatre communities through collaborative projects and the development of new works.

Pictured: Solomia Bishko (Mavka) and Cody Amboage-Masoner (Lukash) - photo credit Derek Villanueva
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The Lesser-Known Players
Jennifer Hodges

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