Ukrainian War Play Debuts in Woodside

Director, Richard Vetere, takes notes during tech rehearsals of the play, “Even Here”

By Clare Baierl | [email protected]

A silence creeps over the stage, as the lights flicker red, then pink to a soft blue. The sound of bombs and crumbling stone starts, as a moody violin filled song fills the room. The actresses shuffle across the stage, moving to their right then left, stopping when the lights hit them just right. For director, Richard Vetere, tech rehearsals are where the play comes alive.

Starting July 20th at Secret Theater in Woodside, debuts renowned playwright Richard Vetere’s newest play, Even Here. The play written by two Ukrainian women, Alice Evermore, and Anastasiia Chala, tells a story of the war, a heart-felt cry for hope within the darkness.

The play, with only two actors, follows the story of two young women living through the war. Based on writer Chala’s real-life experience, the play takes place in Dnipro, Ukraine following the bombing of her building.

One of the characters is a ghost, visiting from the city of Odessa, which was bombed in the early nineteenth century. The ghost visits the other girl, helping her through the current trauma of the attacks.

“Not a day goes by, I don’t want to do something or say something,” said Evermore. “

This play is an artistic response.” Inspired and driven by the war in Ukraine, both Evermore and Chala felt as though writing this play was a way to channel their emotions, and hopefully offer some type of solace.

“We want to reach deep down inside those victims of violence and to let them know that there is an inner peace within the individual that never dies despite the atrocities of the world we live in,” said Evermore.

Displaced by the war, both writers currently live in Berlin, making this play a truly cross-continental effort. Director, Vetere, a native of Maspeth, was introduced to the two through an online mentoring group called, Young Playwrights Ukraine.

After reading the story, Vetere helped with rewrites,  “I had no idea or intention of directing it,” he said. But once finding the festival at Secret Theater, Vetere knew the play would be a perfect fit.

To find the actors that would bring the story alive was another story. “I went through an arduous casting process,” said Vetere. But with recommendations and a lot of luck, Vetere eventually landed on two up-and coming actresses, Alisa Mironova and Isabel Renner.

Actresses (left to right) Isabel Renner and Alisa Mironova adjust their stage positions during rehearsals

Both women got their starts in acting at a very young age. “I always wanted to express myself,” said Mironova. “I wanted to find myself through characters.” Growing up shy as a child, for Renner, acting was an escape. “Acting was the one place I felt comfortable expressing myself,” she said.

The two women first met at the beginning of rehearsals a few months prior, but that didn’t stop them from becoming fast friends. “I love our dynamic,” said Mironova.

As the debut show is fast approaching, everything is down to the wire. “We have a custom-made dress coming in from Portugal,” said Vetere. “It should have arrived last Friday!”

Excitement and nerves creep through the cast, but after all the work involved, they look forward to bringing the message of the play alive. “Hate can never extinguish love,” said Chala.   

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