2. Ukrainian culture of the “thaw” and the “stagnation period”.
1. Primary cultural policy of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was directed on national development. Policy of Ukrainization meant the increasing usage of Ukrainian language and promotion of Ukrainian culture in various spheres of public life: in education, publishing, governing. The latter was accumulated in indigenization policy of the 1920s, i.e. putting down roots. It aimed at strengthening Soviet power on the territory of Ukraine.
While trying to ascertain and consolidate its power, the Bolshevik government was by far more concerned about political oppositions connected to the pre-revolutionary order than about the national movements inside the former empire. Besides, the reversal of the assimilationist policies of the Russian Empire was to help to improve the image of the Soviet government and boost its popularity among the common people.
Until the early-1930s, Ukrainian culture enjoyed a widespread revival due to Bolshevik policies known as the policy of Korenization ("indigenization"). In these years an impressive Ukrainization program was implemented throughout the republic. In such conditions, the Ukrainian national idea initially continued to develop and even spread to a large territory with traditionally mixed population in the east and south that became part of the Ukrainian Soviet republic.
The All-Ukrainian Sovnarkom's decree "On implementation of the Ukrainization of the educational and cultural institutions" (July 27, 1923) is considered to be the onset of the Ukrainization program. The (August 1) decree that followed shortly "On implementation of the equal rights of the languages and facilitation of the Ukrainian language" mandated the implementation of Ukrainian language to all levels of state institutions. Initially, the program was met with resistance by some Ukrainian Communists, largely because non-Ukrainians prevailed numerically in the party at the time. The resistance was finally overcome in 1925 through changes in the party leadership under the pressure of Ukrainian representatives in the party. In April 1925 the party Central Committee adopted the resolution on Ukrainization proclaiming its aim as "solidifying the union of the peasantry with the working class" and boosting the overall support of the Soviet system among Ukrainians. A joint resolution aimed at "complete Ukrainization of the Soviet apparatus" as well as the party and trade unions was adopted on April 30, 1925. The Ukrainian Commissariat of Education (Narkomis) was charged with overseeing the implementation of the Ukrainization policies. The two figures, therefore, most identified with the policy are Oleksander Shumskyi, the Commissar for Education between 1923 and 1927, and Mykola Skrypnyk, who replaced Shumskyi in 1927.
The rapidly developed Ukrainian-language based education system dramatically raised the literacy of the Ukrainophone rural population. By 1929 over 97% of high school students in the republic were obtaining their education in Ukrainian and illiteracy dropped from 47% (1926) to 8% in 1934.
Simultaneously, the newly-literate ethnic Ukrainians migrated to the cities, which became rapidly largely Ukrainianized — in both population and education. Between 1923 and 1933 the Ukrainian proportion of the population of Kharkov, at the time the capital of Soviet Ukraine, increased from 38% to 50%. Similar increases occurred in other cities, from 27.1% to 42.1% in Kiev, from 16% to 48% in Dnipropetrovsk, from 16% to 48% in Odessa, and from 7% to 31% in Luhansk.
Similarly expansive was an increase in Ukrainian language publishing and the overall flourishing of Ukrainian cultural life. As of 1931 out of 88 theatres in Ukraine, 66 were Ukrainian, 12 were Jewish and 9 were Russian. The number of Ukrainian newspapers, which almost did not exist in 1922, had reached 373 out of 426, while only 3 all-republican large newspapers remained Russian. Of 118 magazines, 89 were Ukrainian. Ukrainization of book-publishing reached 83%.
Most importantly, Ukrainization was thoroughly implemented through the government apparatus, Communist Party of Ukraine membership and, gradually, the party leadership as well, as the recruitment of indigenous cadre was implemented as part of the korenization policies. At the same time, the usage of Ukrainian was continuously encouraged in the workplace and in government affairs. While initially, the party and government apparatus was mostly Russian-speaking, by the end of the 1920s ethnic Ukrainians composed over one half of the membership in the Ukrainian communist party, the number strengthened by accession of Borotbists, a formerly indigenously Ukrainian "independentist" and non-Bolshevik communist party.
In the all-Ukrainian Ispolkom, central executive committee, as well as in the oblast level governments, the proportion of Ukrainians reached 50.3% by 1934 while in raion ispolkoms the number reached 68.8%. On the city and village levels, the representation of Ukrainians in the local government bodies reached 56.1% and 86.1%, respectively. As for other governmental agencies, the Ukrainization policies increased the Ukrainian representation as follows: officers of all-republican People's Commissariat (ministries) - 70-90%, oblast executive brunches - 50%, raion - 64%, Judiciary - 62%, Militsiya (law enforcement) - 58%.
The attempted Ukrainization of the armed forces, Red Army formations serving in Ukraine and abroad, was less successful although moderate progress was attained. The Schools of Red Commanders (Shkola Chervonyh Starshyn) was organized in Kharkov to promote the careers of the Ukrainian national cadre in the army (see picture). The Ukrainian newspaper of the Ukrainian Military District "Chervona Armiya" was published until mid-1930s. The efforts were made to introduce and expand Ukrainian terminology and communication in the Ukrainian Red Army units. The policies even reached the army units in which Ukrainians served in other Soviet regions. For instance the Soviet Pacific Fleet included a Ukrainian department overseen by Semyon Rudniev.
At the same time, despite the ongoing Soviet-wide anti-religious campaign, the Ukrainian national Orthodox Church was created, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The Bolshevik government initially saw the national churches as a tool in their goal to suppress the Russian Orthodox Church, always viewed with great suspicion by the regime for its being the cornerstone of the defunct Russian Empire and the initially strong opposition it took towards the regime change. Therefore, the government tolerated the new Ukrainian national church for some time and the UAOC gained a wide following among the Ukrainian peasantry.
Ukrainization even reached those regions of southern Russian SFSR, particularly the areas by the Don and Kuban rivers, where mixed population showed strong Ukrainian influences in the local dialect. Ukrainian language teachers, just graduated from expanded institutions of higher education in Soviet Ukraine, were dispatched to these regions to staff newly opened Ukrainian schools or to teach Ukrainian as a second language in Russian schools. A string of local Ukrainian-language publications was started and departments of Ukrainian studies were opened in colleges. Overall, these policies were implemented in thirty-five administrative districts in southern Russia.
At the same time, despite the ongoing anti-religious campaign, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church (from Gr. self-governing) was created in 1921 as Soviet authorities saw the national churches as a tool in their goal to suppress Russian Orthodox Church.
As of 1931 66 out 88 theatres in Ukraine were Ukrainian. L. Kurbas continued to promote the idea of innovative theatre. It was at Berezil in Kiev (1922–1926) and later in Kharkov (1926 – 1933) that Kurbas’s creative genius became the most evident and transformed Berezil into the focal theatre in Ukraine. Of particular importance for the development of Ukrainian drama and theatre was Kurbas’s collaboration with N. Kulish, the prominent Ukrainian playwright of the 1920s.
Les Kurbas (1887-1937) was not only the most important organizer and director of the Ukrainian avant-garde theater, but also one of the most outstanding European theater directors in the first half of the 20th century. Hailed by Vsevolod Meyerhold as "the greatest living Soviet theater director" (and thus, elevated above such giants of Russian and European theater as Konstantin Stanislavsky, Alexandr Tairov, and Meyerhold himself), Kurbas worked to create a new tradition of an intellectual and philosophical theater. His Molodyi Teatr productions revolutionized Ukrainian theater (that was crippled for decades by tsarist draconian decrees and circulars), elevating it in style, esthetics, and repertoire to the level of modern European theater. It was in the 1920s, at his Berezil theater, that Kurbas's creative genius became most evident. At its height Berezil employed nearly four hundred people and ran six actors' studios, a directors' lab, a design studio, and a theater museum. However, Kurbas was given only several years to implement his cultural revolution. Accussed by the Soviet officials of nationalism and counterrevolutionary activities, Kurbas was arrested and executed during the Stalinist terror. All of his productions were banned from the Soviet repertoire and most of his archival materials, including all of his films, were destroyed. No serious study of his artistic legacy was allowed to be published in the USSR until the late 1980s.
Kurbas, Les (Oleksander), (1887 - 1937 ). Outstanding organizer and director of Ukrainian avant-garde theater, filmmaker, actor, and teacher; son of the Galician actor Stepan Yanovych (stage name: Kurbas) and actress Vanda Yanovycheva. In 1907–8 he studied philosophy at the University of Vienna and drama with the famous Viennese actor Josef Kainz. After graduating from Lviv University in 1910, he worked as an actor in the troupes of the Hutsul Theater (1911–12) and Lviv’s Ukrainska Besida theater (1912–14), founded and directed the Ternopilski Teatralni Vechory theater in Ternopil (1915–16), and worked at Sadovsky's Theater in Kyiv (1916–17).
After the February Revolution of 1917 Kurbas reorganized an actors' studio he had founded in 1916 into the Molodyi Teatr theater (1917–19) in Kyiv and became the secretary of the journal Teatral’ni visty. In Molodyi Teatr’s productions, which included the first performance in Ukrainian of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex (1918), Kurbas revolutionized Ukrainian theater, elevating it in style, esthetics, and repertoire from the provincial to the level of modern European theater. Influenced by Henri Bergson’s philosophy and the theatrical theories and experiments of Max Reinhardt, Georg Fuchs, and Edward Gordon Craig, Kurbas used Molodyi Teatr’s experimental productions to develop his own style of intellectual theater to replace the traditional Ukrainian ethnographic repertoire and traditional, realist psychological theater in general.
Kurbas’s idea of a new, philosophical theater (whose ultimate aim was to return to theater’s ritualistic roots and once again become a religious act) demanded a new type of actor. Rather than reliving the character’s emotions or identifying with him or her, Kurbas’s actor was supposed to objectify the character through the complete control of his or her body and voice and by means of several key techniques. The most important technique, transformation (peretvorennia), represented a theatrical symbol designed to reveal the spiritual and hidden elements by way of concrete images. Another crucial element of Kurbas’s approach was musical rhythm, which had to permeate and unify the entire production. To implement his principles, Kurbas placed much emphasis on his actors' intellectual and technical training, using in the latter the systems of gestures developed by François Delsarte and Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, as well as on architectural design, using the talents of Anatol Petrytsky and Mykhailo Boichuk.
In 1919 the Bolshevik authorities forced Molodyi Teatr to merge with the State Drama Theater, and Kurbas became the codirector, with Oleksander Zaharov, of the new Shevchenko First Theater of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. There, to great acclaim, he staged an interpretation of Taras Shevchenko's epic poem Haidamaky (The Haidamakas); this monumental production, with music by Reinhold Glière, became the standard by which all Ukrainian productions were measured in the 1920s. By 1920 the situation in Kyiv, devastated by continuous warfare, had become unbearable for actors, and Kurbas formed the Kyidramte touring theater troupe, which toured Bila Tserkva, Uman, and Kharkiv. Kyidramte’s repertoire included the first Ukrainian-language production of a play by William Shakespeare—Macbeth, which premiered in Bila Tserkva in August 1920. At this stage in his career, Kurbas gave up acting to concentrate solely on teaching and directing. Convinced that theater could be used as a powerful political instrument, in 1922 he renounced the estheticism of his earlier period and founded the Berezil artistic association in Kyiv as a left-leaning theater dedicated to the cause of the proletarian revolution.
It was at Berezil in Kyiv (1922–6) and later Kharkiv (1926–33) that Kurbas's creative genius became most evident and transformed Berezil into the focal theater in Ukraine . At its height Berezil employed nearly four hundred actors and staff members and ran six actors' studios, a directors' lab, a design studio, a theater museum, and ten specialized committees. There Kurbas perfected his rigorous system for the intellectual and technical training of actors. It focused on ‘mime-dramas’, which shared many features of early avant-garde abstract dance and had to be fully mastered before actors were permitted to study the use of language. The main stylistic principle of Berezil's productions was the synthesis of speech, movement, gestures (which were supposed to be objectivized and remain separate from the actor's frame of mind and personal experiences), music, light, and decorative art into one rhythm or simple, dramatic language. Utilizing various elements of expressionism, constructivism, and other avant-garde styles, Kurbas’s innovative productions—eg, of Georg Kaiser’s Gas (1923), Upton Sinclair’s Jimmie Higgins (1923) (in which film was used for the first time on a Ukrainian stage), Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1924), and Fernand Crommelynck's Tripes d'or (1926) —challenged the traditional principles of realist psychological theater and often anticipated the later experiments of such directors as Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud. Of particular importance for the development of Ukrainian drama and theater was Kurbas’s collaboration with the most important Ukrainian playwright of the 1920s, Mykola Kulish, three of whose plays became part of Berezil’s repertoire.
In 1925 a lively public dispute about Kurbas and Berezil erupted. Soviet critics and Party officials denounced Berezil’s complex avant-garde style, inaccessibility to the masses, intellectual sophistication, and ‘antidemocratic stance.’ Nonetheless, Berezil was still recognized as Ukraine’s best theater, and in 1926 it moved to the then capital of Soviet Ukraine, Kharkiv. There Berezil became a focal point of a ‘theater dispute’ (part of the broader Soviet Ukrainian Literary Discussion), whose most important public forums in 1927 and 1929 represented confrontations between leading Soviet Ukrainian cultural figures (including Kurbas, Kulish, and Mykola Khvylovy) and theater traditionalists loyal to the Party (eg, Hnat Yura) as well as Soviet critics and officials (eg, Ivan Kulyk). Under mounting Party criticism, Berezil was forced to exclude from its repertoire most of Kulish’s plays and to stage second-rate dramas by Ivan Mykytenko, a Party favorite whose works adhered to the principles of socialist realism. Kurbas defiantly responded to this infringement on artistic freedom by completely rewriting Mykytenko’s Dyktatura (Dictatorship) and turning it into a musical that became one of his most notable directorial achievements.
As the Party’s control over all spheres of cultural and political life in Ukraine tightened in the 1930s, Kurbas’s ideas and his dynamic, innovative, and often controversial productions were condemned as nationalist, rationalist, formalist, and counterrevolutionary. In October 1933 he was dismissed as the director of Berezil, and all of his productions were banned from the Soviet Ukrainian repertoire. To avoid further persecution, he moved to Moscow to join the GOSET (the State Jewish Theater) and work there on a production of King Lear starring Solomon Michoels. But soon after, in December 1933, he was arrested by the NKVD and imprisoned on the Solovets Islands in the Soviet Arctic. There he became a victim of the mass executions of prisoners marking the twentieth anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917. Most of his archival materials, including all of his films, were destroyed.
Kurbas left his mark in the history of Ukrainian theater as an innovative organizer and teacher and daring experimental director. At Molodyi Teatr he introduced a modern European repertoire and style of acting. At Berezil he broke down the old forms of Ukrainian theater and, after a long period of searching and enthusiastic experimentation with German expressionist theater and the theories of constructivism, succeeded, in his productions of Kulish's plays, in creating a unique, Ukrainian expressionist theater. With his production of Kaiser's Gas in 1923, Kurbas broke completely with traditional Ukrainian realist, ethnographic theater to present spectacles that forced the audience to become active participants rather than passive observers. He combined his intellectualism and philosophical interpretation of plays with a brilliant synthesis of rhythm, movement, and avant-garde theatrical and visual devices, including the use of film, and managed to gather together the best actors, directors, set designers (eg, Vadym Meller), and playwrights in Ukraine. At the Berezil studios and Kyiv (1922–6) and Kharkiv (1926–33) music and drama institutes (see Lysenko Music and Drama Institute and Kharkiv Theater Institute), he trained an entire generation of Ukrainian actors and directors, including Danylo Antonovych, Borys Balaban, Yevhen Bondarenko, Amvrosii Buchma, Valentyna Chystiakova (Kurbas’s wife), Olimpiia Dobrovolska, Leontii Dubovyk, Sofiia Fedortseva, Liubov Hakkebush, Yosyp Hirniak, Domian Kozachkivsky, Marian Krushelnytsky, Lidiia Krynytska, Ivan Marianenko, Dmytro Miliutenko, Fedir Radchuk, Polina Samiilenko, Iryna Steshenko, Oleksander Serdiuk, Volodymyr Skliarenko, Borys Tiahno, Nadiia Tytarenko, Nataliia Uzhvii, and Vasyl Vasylko.
Molodyi Teatr (Young Theater). A theatre troupe in Kyiv headed by Les Kurbas from 1917 to 1919. The core group of actors consisted of graduates of the Lysenko Music and Drama School and included Vasyl Vasylko, Yona Shevchenko, Marko Tereshchenko, Volodymyr Kalyn, Stepan Bondarchuk, Polina Samiilenko, Sofiia Manuilovych, Antonina Smereka, Oleksii Vatulia, Polina Niatko, and Olimpiia Dobrovolska. Most of the productions were directed by Kurbas, although Hnat Yura, V. Vasilev, and Semen Semdor also directed shows. Anatol Petrytsky was the main stage designer, but Mykhailo Boichuk was invited to create sets for several important productions. Kurbas's articles, such as the ‘Manifesto’ (in Robitnycha hazeta, 1917) and ‘Molodyi Teatr’ (Young Theatre, 1917), called for a new Ukrainian theatre and outlined the artistic goals of the group. Molodyi Teatr rejected the Ukrainian ethnographic repertoire and presented modern Ukrainian plays and world classics. Kurbas strived to create an intellectual and philosophical theater whose ultimate aim was to return to its ritualistic roots and to become once again some form of a religious act. His search for new forms resulted in imaginative uses of rhythm, gesture, music, and design in his productions. The first season included Kurbas's productions of the realist Chorna pantera i bilyi vedmid’ (Black Panther and White Bear) by Volodymyr Vynnychenko, the naturalistic Jugend by M. Halbe, and Doktor Kerzhentsev, based on L. Andreev's Mysl’ (Thought), directed by Yura. These were followed by a stylized presentation of three symbolic études by Oleksander Oles, two of which were directed by Kurbas and one by Yura. Molodyi Teatr concluded its first season with a production of J. Żuławski's impressionistic verse play Jola.
The second season (1918–19) opened with Kurbas's production of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, the first Ukrainian production of a classical Greek play. Kurbas's subsequent productions included Lesia Ukrainka's U Pushchi (In the Wilderness); F. Grillparzer's Weh dem, der lügt! in the commedia dell'arte style; a stylized Vertep, which used the conventions of the puppet theater; expressionistic stagings of Taras Shevchenko's dramatic poems ‘Ivan Hus’ and ‘Velykyi l'okh’ (The Great Vault); and performances of several lyrical poems as choral movement pieces with music, which Kurbas would later see as his first attempt to create ‘transformed gestures,’ the central concern of his later work. During the season the other directors presented literal stagings of such plays as G. Shaw's Candida (directed by Yura), G. Hauptmann's Die versunkene Glocke (by Yura) Volodymyr Vynnychenko's Hrikh (Sin, by Yura), Moliere's Tartuffe (by Vasilev), and H. Ibsen's En folkefiende (by Semdor).
In the spring of 1919, as the internal artistic conflicts came to a head, Molodyi Teatr was nationalized by the Bolshevik government and forced to merge with the State Drama Theater to form the Shevchenko First Theater of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Although it lasted only two seasons, Molodyi Teatr changed the direction of Ukrainian theatre, and from its ranks came the artistic directors of the major theaters of the 1920s, including Les Kurbas, Hnat Yura, Marko Tereshchenko, and Vasyl Vasylko.
Berezil (March). A theater established in 1922 in Kyiv by the Berezil artistic association as an experimental studio under the artistic direction of Les Kurbas. Achieving recognition as Soviet Ukraine’s national theater, it was located in Kyiv until 1926 and then moved to the then capital, Kharkiv. At its height Berezil included six actors' studios (three in Kyiv, one each in Bila Tserkva, Boryspil, and Odesa), close to 400 actors and staff members, a directors' lab, a design studio, a theater museum, and ten committees, including a ‘psycho-technical’ committee that used applied psychology to develop new teaching methods for actors and directors. Berezil also published a journal, Barykady teatru (Theatrical Barricades).
Having renounced the aestheticism of his Molodyi Teatr period, Kurbas saw Berezil as a left-leaning theater dedicated to the cause of proletarian revolution. But he never embraced a single ideology or program; instead, he insisted that Berezil was ‘not dogma, but movement,’ a ceaseless revolutionary search for new forms of artistic expression. Kurbas’s first Berezil productions, Zhovten’ (October, 1922) and Rur (Ruhr, 1923), were designed as agitprop performances and often performed especially for Red Army troops. Nonetheless, they were considerable artistic achievements and contained important formal experiments, especially in their choreography of mass scenes.
Kurbas introduced a sophisticated technical and intellectual training program for Berezil’s actors that emphasized rhythm and focused on ‘mime-dramas’ exhibiting many features of early avant-garde abstract dance. Only after they had mastered the art of ‘mime-drama’ and the use of props were actors permitted to study the use of language. The overarching goal of Berezil's productions was the synthesis of speech, movement, gesture, music, light, and decorative art into one rhythm or simple, dramatic language, based on the belief that theater shapes rather than reflects life. According to Kurbas, this process, which required a ‘new actor’ and directorial approach, was also aimed at creating a new type of theatrical audience and society in general—‘a new, not passive, person.’
Despite its essential differences with expressionist theater, Berezil (whose motto was ‘a committed, reflective theater’) used formal expressionist devices in its subsequent productions of plays by Georg Kaiser, Ernst Toller, and Upton Sinclair. Kurbas’s staging of Kaiser’s Gas (1923) in Ukrainian was Berezil’s first great success, and it was hailed as ushering in ‘a new era in theater.’ Kurbas and Berezil’s even more successful first adaptation of Sinclair’s Jimmy Higgins (1923) in Ukrainian used film to create a thoroughly innovative theatrical effect.
The next period in Berezil’s development was associated with its experimental productions of classic dramas in Ukrainian translation, in particular a radically original and ‘scandalous’ staging of William Shakespeare's Macbeth (1924); Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller's Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua; Victor Hugo's Le Roi s'amuse; Prosper Mérimée's La Jacquerie; Fernand Crommelynck's Tripes d'or; and Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado. The theater also staged experimental productions of Ukrainian plays such as Ivan Karpenko-Kary's Khaziaïn (The Master) and Sava Chalyi; Mykhailo Starytsky's Za dvoma zaitsiamy (After Two Hares); Volodymyr M. Yaroshenko's Shpana (Riff-raff); Maik Yohansen, Mykola Khvylovy, and Ostap Vyshnia's Allo na khvyli 477 (Hello on Frequency 477); Kost Burevii's Chotyry chemberleny (Four Chamberlains); and Stepan Bondarchuk and Kurbas's Proloh (Prologue).
Among Berezil’s major achievements were its productions of plays by Kurbas’s close collaborator and the most important Ukrainian dramatist of the 1920s and 1930s, Mykola Kulish. Because of those plays’ political nonconformism, however, the Soviet authorities granted permission to stage only a few of them— Narodnii Malakhii (The People's Malakhii, 1928), which was banned after several performances, Myna Mazailo (1929), and the soon banned Maklena Grasa (1933), whose dress rehearsal was monitored by armed police.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Kurbas and Berezil became the targets of ever-increasing condemnation by official Soviet critics and Party functionaries. Berezil became a focal point of a ‘theater dispute’ (part of the broader Literary Discussion) in which Kurbas was initially denounced for Berezil’s ‘inaccessability to the masses’ and his own ‘antidemocratic stand’ and, eventually, for being a ‘bourgeois nationalist’ and ‘counterrevolutionary.’ At the end of 1933, after Kurbas’s dismissal as Berezil’s artistic director and his subsequent arrest by the NKVD, Berezil was purged. The theater’s actors who were not arrested and imprisoned during the Stalinist Terror joined the reformed Kharkiv Ukrainian Drama Theater. There, under the directorship of Marian Krushelnytsky, they performed in plays that conformed to the tenets of officially sanctioned socialist realism.
Many notable Ukrainian actors belonged to Berezil—Marian Krushelnytsky, Yosyp Hirniak, Nataliia Uzhvii, Amvrosii Buchma, Ivan Marianenko, Valentyna Chystiakova, Iryna Steshenko, Nadiia Tytarenko, Stepan Shahaida, Oleksander Serdiuk, Danylo Antonovych, Hanna Babiivna, Olimpiia Dobrovolska, and Hnat Ihnatovych—and an entire generation of younger actors and directors were trained there. Besides Kurbas, Yanuarii Bortnyk, Favst Lopatynsky, Borys Tiahno, Volodymyr Skliarenko, Borys Balaban, directed Berezil’s plays. Berezil's primary stage designer was the prominent painter Vadym Meller.
Krushelnytsky, Marian ( 1897 - 1963 ). Actor and play director of Les Kurbas's school; educator. Making his stage debut in 1915 in the Ternopilski Teatralni Vechory theater, he subsequently acted in the Ukrainian Theater in Ternopil (1918, 1920–1), the New Lviv Theater (1919), the Franko Ukrainian Drama Theater in Vinnytsia (1920), and the Ukrainska Besida Theater in Lviv (1922–4). Then he was one of the leading actors of the Berezil theater, and after L. Kurbas's arrest and the dissolution of Berezil, Krushelnytsky was appointed in 1934 artistic director and chief play director of the Kharkiv Ukrainian Drama Theater. He modified the theater's profile, particularly its repertoire, according to the demands of socialist realism: preference was given to Oleksander Korniichuk's and Liubomyr Dmyterko's plays and Russian classics. Joining the Kyiv Ukrainian Drama Theater in 1952, he eventually became its chief stage director (1954–63). After the war, he also taught acting at the Kharkiv Theater Institute (1946–52) and the Kyiv Institute of Theater Arts (1952–63).
As an actor Krushelnytsky distinguished himself under Les Kurbas's direction in the Berezil theater. He played a wide range of roles, including Honoré d'Apremout in Prosper Mérimé's La Jacquerie, Barbulesque in F. Crommelynck's Tripes d'Or, and Maloshtan in Ivan Mykytenko's Dyktatura (Dictatorship). He was particularly impressive in Mykola Kulish's plays: as Malakhii in Narodnyi Malakhii (The People's Malakhii), Uncle Taras in Myna Mazailo, and Padura in Maklena Grasa. In the post-Berezil period his better roles were comedic ones such as Kuksa in Marko Kropyvnytsky's Poshylys’ u durni (They Made Fools of Themselves) and Ivan Nepokryty in his Dai sertsiu voliu zavede v nevoliu (Give the Heart Freedom and It Will Lead You into Slavery), the title role in Ivan Karpenko-Kary's Martyn Borulia, Kindrat Halushka in Oleksander Korniichuk's V stepakh Ukraïny (In Ukraine's Steppes), and cantor Havrylo in Bohdan Khmel’nyts’kyi. Krushelnytsky won acclaim for his original interpretation of Tevie in Tevie-molochnyk (Tevie, the Milkman, based on the story by Sholom Aleichem) and of Lear in William Shakespeare's King Lear.