INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Tuesday, November 10, 2015
“Leaving Kiev” by Mila Levine, directed by Mary Catherine Donnelly; Technical direction by Tony Mann; and starring Mila Levine. The audience sees a map of the Ukraine on the wall above the stage. The location of Kiev is marked by a black star, covered by a round circle in red, in the middle of the country. Kiev is the capital city of the Ukraine, and the river Dnieper flows through it. Belarus is located to the north of Ukraine, and Russia is located on the north-eastern side of the Ukraine.
The performer informs the audience about the past activities that happened in the Ukraine in 1976 and beyond. She comes from a long line of progressive people. At the age of six years old, her best friend betrayed her. She tells the audience that her trip to the library was not a joyful one, for she was ashamed to be Jewish or being so ashamed of not acknowledging her heritage. Mila tells the audience that her mother had her moments with people in Kiev who displayed anti-Semitism against them, and she defended her culture in her presence.
It was a tradition for members of Mila’s family to study how to play the piano. In Mila’s case, she tells the audience that her piano teacher was not a nice person. However, she survived the cruelty of the teacher, and she brings the captured audience into her world of her imaginary friends in Kiev. Mila got her travel visa. She speaks about her life after the visa, and she reminds the audience about how she was unable to travel with her writing. It was said that her writing would be taken away from the family if she traveled with it.
Mila speaks about her experience during and after their goodbye party in the former USSR, in Kiev. She claims that her old friend and her mother visited their apartment regularly, and they exchanged gifts. Mila had to leave certain things behind before she left Kiev with her family, and she realized that the people really liked her. Mila tells her story about her life before leaving Kiev in 1989 with warmth and sincerity. She relates to the audience that a man came to see her off at the railroad station before she left Kiev on her trip to Moscow. They exchanged pleasantries with each other. Mila and her family made it to Moscow, and they embarked the airplane in that city for the United States.
Mila gives the audience a feeling of elation when she reminisce about her trip. Her plane ride to the US was a memorable journey. Mila says she sat next to a man, and her guitar was on his lap. She lets the audience know that she wondered what he was saying. He wanted the guitar on his lap. Perhaps, the man just wanted to be nice to a young girl sitting next to him.
Mila’s story allows the audience to get a glimpse of an immigrant’s experience before she arrived in the United States of America. Some people have to endure so much before they can immigrate to this country. Things have changed in Kiev because after Mila left the Ukraine, the USSR was dismantled. The USSR finally collapsed in 1991 when Boris Yeltsin seized power in the aftermath of a failed coup that toppled Mikhail Gorbachev’s government. This is a worthy performance that theatre goers need to see and experience how other people live.