Rimma Tyshkevich is a theater and film actress from Kyiv. She has already played in many Ukrainian films.
Since the russian invasion started in Ukraine, she had to make a tough decision to get evacuated to Poznań in March 2022. Here in Poznan, the artist continues to create and popularize Ukrainian culture.
We ‘ve talked to Rimma and learnt the path she made here in Poland, cultural activities, war performances she took part in and her plans for the future.
Photographer Diana Tishchenko for the photography exhibition „Made in Ukraine” – „2.0 Ukrainian artists in Europe”
Life before the full-scale war and evacuation
Rimma Tyshkevich has over 10 years of acting experience. Before the russian invasion, she worked at the Kyiv Free Theater.
She also played in many TV series in Ukraine, such as „Water Police”, „Dog”, „Nowa” and more.
On February 24, the filming of a new Ukrainian series was supposed to take place. Rimma has been preparing for it lately. That day instead, she was woken up by a rocket explosion. Despite the enormous threat and long talks with her husband, the actress initially refused to leave the city.
She wanted her family to get through these difficult times together. However, the desire to protect her two sons from the threat won and the woman decided to leave Ukraine and headed to Poland.
Rimma and her family spent over 10 hours in a queue at the Polish-Ukrainian border.
“Our turn has come. I turned around and saw our husbands standing behind the fence, looking at us with a tearing look. We knew they were staying to defend the country. We didn’t know when we would see each other again…” – this is how the actress recalls that day.
First steps in Poznań and social activities
As soon as Rimma arrived in Poznań, she started active social and volunteer work. She started by reporting news from the city in Ukrainian on one of the YouTube channels. Polish colleagues were supporting Rimma, marking her good presentation skills. However, the actress was looking for other opportunities that would allow her not only to demonstrate her creativity, but also to earn money to make her children feel comfortable in a new place.
Thus, the idea of establishing the „Artcluster” Foundation was born. Apart from Rimma, two other refugee women from Ukraine joined the organization: musician and vocalist Anastasia Ivasyova and Nina Burnevich, an artist from Kyiv.
Establishing the foundation enabled the popularization of Ukrainian culture abroad, as well as writing grants and raising funds for own initiatives. Their first project was the theater performance „Women’s Fears”, which premiered in June 2022. Moreover, the foundation has been organizing the „Ukrainian Art Week in Poznań” for two years in a row. The event program included exhibitions of artists and children’s drawings, theater performances, poetry evenings, concerts, etc.
Talking about war through art In Poland
Rimma has continued her acting work in Poland too. However, currently she mainly acts in performances and films about the war in Ukraine.
„It ain’t any easy experience to be facing. An ordinary person would rather strive to forget these emotions as quickly as possible, but not an artist,” – Rimma is describing her experiences on stage.
Last autumn, in 2022 Rimma participated in an artistic residency at the Theater Institute of Zbigniew Raszewski, which took place in Poznań. Later on, Rimma got a role in the documentary show „Exercises in Diplomacy”, about the fight against the Russian occupation. It was the actress’s first performance in Polish. The performance got to the Final Ranking of the 29th National Competition of Contemporary Theater Art.
After that experience, an actress became a resident of the Grotowski Institute in Wrocław. There, she took part in the creation of the Polish-Ukrainian performance „Genesis”.
Quite recently, Rimma took part in the filming process of the full-length movie „Buk” directed by Maciej Ślesicki. Its premiere will take place in 2024. In a movie she plays a woman who sees with her own eyes, how Russian occupiers rape her daughter.
The actress says that after working on the film she needed some time to collect her thoughts. It was a tough experience. However, she also says that such projects are extremely important because they help to raise an awareness about the war crimes russians committed in Ukraine.
“The least thing I can do for these mutilated women is to play them” — the artist says.
Plans for the future and Polish-Ukrainian cooperation
Rimma Tyshkiewicz is strongly convinced that she gained very valuable experience in Poland. Talking about her achievements in a new country, she is getting emotional:
“Could I have ever imagined it all when I was standing on a border all in tears in that line at the border? Of course not”.
The actress is convinced that in the future Poland and Ukraine will cooperate very tightly in a cultural context. She dreams of organizing the performance „Exercises in Diplomacy” one day in the capital of Ukraine – Kyiv.
According to her, „Kyiv theater scene has never seen anything like that before.” Rimma plans to continue participating in Polish-Ukrainian artistic projects here in Poland as for now. However, the brutal reality does not allow the artist to make plans for the distant future.
„Until the rockets stop flying over my house and killing thousands of Ukrainians, I won’t feel comfortable,” — the actress says.
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This publication has been produced with the support of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Text: Maria Andruchiw
Photos: shared by the actress