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DANCEHALL PRODUCTIONS

 
THE LAST BABUSHKA is a musical play by Amy Wheeler (book & lyrics) with music and lyrics by first generation Ukrainian-American composer Natalie Nowytski. Inspired by Holly Morris' award-winning story and documentary film, The Babushkas of Chernobyl. (Images from the film)


A young woman at loose ends finds herself drawn deep into the world of the reclusive Babushkas who live in the forbidden forest 
that surrounds Chernobyl.

The Last Babushka tells a cross-generational story set in the Exclusion Zone, a post-nuclear radioactive territory, also a thriving green world. Set just prior to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the musical play is an imagined clash between elder women living illegally in villages in the Zone, and opportunistic youth venturing in, also illegally, to hunt for artifacts and reconcile their past and the future. With humor and poignancy, the piece brings to life the courage and resilience of these real-life elder women and their deep connection to their homeland, and the youth's struggle to find belonging in a place that has taken so much from them.

Nowytski’s exciting musical mash-up of traditional Ukrainian village folk songs and original punk rock / contemporary folk music evokes the dynamic world and energy of the piece. Listen to a few of her original songs:

Moj Rodin (My Homeland) - Prelude: each Babushka sings as she works in her corner of the world: Hanya tending to her graves, Valentyna fishing in the Dnipro River, and Maria gardening.

My Homeland, This Wasteland - Act 2: Nadia's punk band Sturm rails against the patriarchy in a Kyiv dive bar.

Graveyard Lullaby - Act 3: Hanna sings with Nadia and the spirit of her son, as she plants fresh flowers on his grave.

We are currently raising funds to support development of the piece post-COVID, through in person readings and workshops in Seattle and Minneapolis.


Your support will help us bring our mystical, matriarchal 
story to the stage.

COLLABORATIVE TEAM
We are an all-female, cross-country team with decades of collaborative experience.


Amy Wheeler (playwright, project lead)

Nationally produced playwright, educator, speaker, longtime Executive Director of Hedgebrook women writers retreat on Whidbey Island, and producer of the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival that has incubated hundreds of plays by America’s most exciting voices.


Natalie Nowytski (composer, lyricist) 
First generation Ukrainian-American composer and musician. Natalie is a Minneapolis-based, classically trained village singer, composer, multi-faceted performer, specializing in traditional Eastern European vocal styling. Creator of award winning, genre-bending folk-inspired music for theater, dance, a cappella choir, and chamber ensembles. www.natalien.com


Lisa Rothe (director) 
New York-based freelance theater director, coach and educator, Rothe's productions are being seen on stages across the country: New York Theatre Workshop, The Guthrie, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Playmakers Repertory, Indiana Repertory Theatre, among many others.
www.lisarothe.com


Liz Engelman (dramaturg)
Minneapolis-based freelance dramaturg and founder of Tofte Lake Center in Ely, Minnesota. Incubator of thousands of new plays at: The Playwrights' Center, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Hedgebrook, O'Neill Playwrights Conference, South Coast Rep, Denver Center, and Florida Stage. www.toftelakecenter.org

PROJECT HISTORY
Seattle’s 5th Ave Theatre: First Draft musical workshop (2019)
Tofte Lake Center residencies (2019 & 2021)
Whidbey Island residency (2021)
Virtual readings with actors across the country during the pandemic (2020-2021)

Contact Amy Wheeler to learn more at amywheelerplays@gmail.com.