The founder of the first Ukrainian English speaking theatre ProEnglish Threatre (Kyiv) Alex Borovensky likes and appreciates his own home town of Cherkasy. So as to go on the tour for the first time to his home land. He and his actors are bringing here the performance “Something in the Mist”, based on the book by Stephen King on the 19th of November. But at first he has performed here an inspiring acting master class in the PROtest theatre on the invitation of Olga Kviatkoska. Now Alex has ambitious plans to create a net of English speaking theatres all over Ukraine. And Cherkasy is on the top of his list.
– How did you come up with an idea of creating ProEnglish Theatre?
– Frankly, I didn`t. Almost as any good idea in my life it doesn`t come to me. It exists so, somewhere there and I never sit and think: “Well, this is what I`m gonna do”. It always comes from somebody outside. Or basically, I was in another drama school and I was very active. I was always organizing, I was always learning new things about acting and everything. And I was originally a teacher of English.
And the guys – other actors – were always coming to me and saying: “Sasha, why don`t we have the English acting?” And one day I said: “Yeah, why not?” And I wanted to organize it, but no one wanted to take a charge in organizing that. So I did. That`s how it started. Well, originally, it was as a kind of drama club, where people tried acting in English. And I had to take charge in it, because nobody else did.
So, I had to study new technics, find some English speaking materials about acting, because nobody else wanted to do that. And when we started it, I liked it. And this is how it developed. Once again – it started as a club.
– So, you have your own English school?
– Yes, I do now, and it`s called “Druzya”. We teach 6 languages. It`s a multilingual school – we teach not only English, but also Polish, German, Spanish etc. And language school exists separately from ProEnglish Theatre. And they are even situated in two different parts of Kyiv. And I taught at the language school till this September. My last corporate groups were from “Segodnya” newspaper. But now I do drama only. I guess I`m done with teaching now. Well, I like it, but I don`t find pleasure in it any more. I love teaching drama. That`s a pleasure for me to see, how people do it, when they find something new in themselves and express themselves, when they are creating something new.
And we don`t teach English in drama school at ProEnglish Theatre. We do all the process in English, but we don`t teach it.
– Are all of your actors amateurs?
– I never worked with professional actors. All of our actors are the graduates of ProEnglish Theatre. Which is the problem on one hand – sometimes they don`t have enough time to act and motivation. But on the other hand, it`s a kind of challenge, `cause I`ve to teach them. And they create performances, that other people watch and buy tickets to.
In fact, 90% of actors in Ukraine can be called amateurs. Because it`s hard to earn living only by doing acting here. And they do other things – weddings, kid`s parties, etc.
And the amateurs bring to the theatre something that professionals lack. They bring the passion. They bring the heart. They want it. Some of them had that dream of acting that they finally making true. And they have that wild energy that people see from the stage.
– How many performances has ProEnglish Theatre staged?
– We staged a performance, based on three of Ray Bradbury`s books, or in fact, on two books and a short story, that unites them. That was my first production. Bradbury was so mild, kind and philosophical, so human loving, that I wanted then to stage something really cruel and bloody. So we took the book “Mist” by Stephen King. The action takes place in a local supermaket of a small town, which is all of a sudden is surrounded by some strange mist. And people can`t go out – they disappear. But the mist outside is not the problem here. The problem is the fear. It happens in your head. If you are afraid, if you`re not sincere. It`s not a thriller, but it`s a drama of fear.
– Have you staged any Shakespeare`s plays?
– I`d love to. Actually it`s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about the theatre, about English theatre: theatre – Shakespeare – Hamlet. I do respect sir William a lot. And I honestly think, that I`m not ready for that. But I think, someday I will be. `Cause I like the way he puts the characters together, he brings the conflict in between them, he does the inner transformation as a play-write. I adore the way he does all that. But I don`t want to take Shakespeare on an easy level. Stephen King is much more easier, than Shakespeare. But in our preparation we do use a lot of Shakespearian style – in gestures and voice training.
– How many actors do you have now in ProEnglish Theatre?
– Well, there is a system. To become a real actor you have to go through all the stages, study with us and have the system. You have to do monologs, dialogs, do the final performance – it`s kind of graduation performance – and go further. I mean, you do the final performance – you do it once or twice, and then we sit together with the group, with the ensemble and decide – whether you wanna continue, or you wanna stop on this. Those who want to continue, become actors. For them it means more productions, it means more profound trainings, they never stop. You know, I hate these professional actors come and just perform – just saying the lines. It`s really not good for actors. My actors always study. So, at the moment we have …I`d say, 15 people. And you`ll see them on the 19-th of November staging in the “Something in the Mist”.
– Are all of them your students?
– Yes, they are. We have lots of people coming to the ProEnglish Theatre, but not all of them want to be professional actors. They have regular rehearsals. These depend on what actors need, but it always starts with physical and psychological part – we always work with body and voice, because on the stage you have to be expressive. You have to let your body do it. And psychological part as well. Usually it`s combined. Acting and teaching do always combine both.
The difference with the actors is that they don`t pay for tuition. For the students pay for their classes of acting, but as long as you get to the acting level, you no longer pay for it. But you have to act. And you have to act good.
– Do you get any profit from these activities?
– The theatre has never been a profitable business. All the production of “Something in the Mist”, well, it took us something about 12,000 UAH. And we need at least 4 performances to get the money back. But in fact, all the money, that you get from tickets, you spend on the preparations. So, theatre is not for getting money. It`s for acting, not for getting money. You can`t make profit of it. And I guess, you shouldn`t. That`s a holy job. That`s for the God. And the audience.