Theatre director, poet and translator, is the founding director of Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. With Yara, she has created 23 original theatre pieces since 1990. The pieces fuse fragments of contemporary poetry and traditional songs, chants, legends and history from East to create experimental imagistic productions.
Translation is an essential part of Yara’s creative process. Since 1989, Virlana has worked with African-American poet Wanda Phipps on translations of contemporary Ukrainian poetry and traditional material. Together they have received the Agni Poetry Translation Prize, nine New York State Translation Grants, and The National Theatre Translation Fund Award. Their collected translations were published in 2008 as In a Different Light: A Bilingual Anthology of Ukrainian Literature. In 2005 Virlana was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Translation Fellowship for her work with the poetry of Serhiy Zhadan. Her collaborative translations with Buryat and Kyrgyz poets have also been the source texs for a number of her production and were awarded prizes such as the Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Award.
Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Virlana was educated at Bennington College and Columbia University School of the Arts. Virlana was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer at the Theatre Institutes both in Kyiv and in Bishkek. For eleven years, she conducted theatre workshops for Harvard Summer Institute. Together with Irena Makaryk, she put together the monumental Modernism in Kyiv, published by University of Toronto Press (2010).
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