As the war stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marches on, we are seeing the cultural connections and outputs of both nations being deeply affected. From the sanctions applied globally to Russian artists across the board—many willfully stepping out of positions and events in solidarity against this war—to the violence and destruction suffered by Ukrainians that has halted their lives. One such institution in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine was the Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre, the target of bombings this past week.
The Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre was operating as a bomb shelter for civilians in the area of Mariupol after a Russian siege of the city when, amidst intense shelling of the city, it was bombed and reduced to rubble on March 16th. Satellite images showed the Russian word for “children” painted across the ground on either end of the building in an effort to warn of the innocents in the bomb shelter below and deter bombers. Ukrainian officials are calling the act a war crime.
For almost one and a half centuries, Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre had operated. An inspiring vision of classical architecture, its most recent form had stood since the 1960s, and the institution was given academic status in 2007. The company had been in the midst of a busy season of several shows and concerts across its multiple stages before the bombing took place.
With this war a current certainty, it is painful to see both the tragic, unnecessary violence perpetrated against innocents as well as the inherent destruction of cultural identity and sanctity of home that comes from the thoughtlessness of warfare. While there were thankfully no casualties in the bombing of Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre, the same sadly cannot be said for countless other attacks. When it comes to such barbarism, there is only loss.