Kyiv circus troupe caught in Italy says present should go on – for Ukraine

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A group of 30 artistes with the Theatre-Circus Elysium from Kyiv were in northern Italy when Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24. The troupe have been unable to return, sparking guilt among some members for escaping the horrors fellow Ukrainians are suffering. But they all see their performance as an act of resistance.

Julia is busy doing her makeup a few hours before her circus group, Theatre-Circus Elysium from Kyiv, perform on an Italian stage.

“I feel bad. I feel guilty that I am in a safe place and they are not,” she says, referring to her fellow Ukrainians trapped in a war zone. “But I need to work so that I can help them,” she concludes with determination.

The Theatre-Circus Elysium were supposed to end their Italian tour on March 13, but the war has meant that their show must go on – in Italy and in western Europe, where they plan to travel and perform over the next few months.

Thanks to a solidarity network of arts professionals, several Italian theatres have opened their doors to the Ukrainian troupe. “We don’t want to stop,” said the group’s executive director, Oleksandr Sakharov, adding that their job now is to show the world the bravery and fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people.

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