She makes art inspired by real-world events to influence real-world change
Job Title: Theatre Artist, Pyretic Productions
Lianna Makuch has been drawn to the stage since she was a child, and her mentors in high school encouraged her to pursue a career in the arts. But it wasn’t until 2017 that she focused her playwriting on stories about Ukraine, and travelling to Ukraine to develop her work.
“For a long time, I never really considered how my Ukrainian identity could inform my work,” Makuch says. “When I started exploring that, I really started finding my voice as an artist.”
War theatre combines art and politics, and it’s made Makuch’s plays must-see events for local audiences, including politicians. In 2018, Edmonton Strathcona MP Linda Duncan spoke about Makuch’s Barvinok in the House of Parliament during a debate about Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine, and Ukrainian immigrants affected by both the 2014 and 2022 Russian invasions.
“Being able to share these stories with people who have lived through the experience discussed in my plays is humbling,” Makuch says.
Following the invasion of Ukraine, Makuch reworked previous works to give context and relevance to current events. “For immigrants to have the opportunity to see that, in Canada, people care, and to be able to process the war through an artistic creation is very special,” Makuch says. “These are not news stories, they are human stories. I’m interested in telling stories that remind us of our humanity and how we how we can connect through empathy.
“For something that I have created to have even some small real-world impact is more meaningful than any award I could win.”