Programme: Ukraine, my Life!

Stories of women fleeing the war

In this OSIRIS theatre production, you hear personal stories of Ukrainians in the midst of the Russian invasion, tales of endurance, fright, courage, guilt and search for a better life. On the stage are Ukrainian and Finnish theatre and music professionals.

The concept, manuscript and direction: Liisa Isotalo
Photography and videos: Ahmed Alalousi
Sound: Lasse Turunen
Choreography: Vitalii Podhurskyi
Performers: Anastasiia Redchuck, Ljubov Yanchukevich, Anna Murtola, Cecile Orblin, Laura Hänninen
Singing coach and choir direction: Emmi Kujanpää
Costumes: Mari Bisi
Lighting: Sauli Närhi/Malmitalo
Set and props: Anu Sallinen
Producer: Anna Murtola
Assistants: Olga Sergeyeva and Martina Marti
Communications Assistant: Hannele Ågren
Translators: Jura Zub, Olga Sergeyeva, Merja Jokela

Duration ca 2 hrs incl the interval
Recommended age limit 12 years


21.2.2024 Premiere, Malmintalo 19 hrs
23.2.2024 Aleksanteri Theatre 19 hrs
25.2.2024 Järvenpää House 16 hrs
13.3.2024 Riihimaki Theatre 19 hrs
16.4.2024 Aleksanteri Theatre 19 hrs


The work is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Education.
Through this project OSIRIS supports the reconstruction of Tsernihiv Theatre in Ukraine.
Furthermore, Järvenpää House is donating 50% of their ticket sales to Ukrainians living in Järvenpää.


OSIRIS Theatre
In collaboration with Helsinki City/Malmitalo & Kanneltalo, Aleksanteri Theatre, Järvenpää talo, Riihimäki Theatre


The folk songs of the performance are part of our joint Eastern European tradition, which cover an area from Viena Carelia through Inkeri to Ukraine and the Balkans. The themes in the ancient songs are eternal longing, warmth, caring, love and sorrow. Throughout ages these songs have travelled from country to country and continent to continent. In the performance you will hear ‘Morjens Viivi’, sung in Helsinki slang, which originally was a composition by the Ukrainian Semen Klimovski in the 1700’s.

Ruvetkoa myo juopukat
Trad Viena Carelia, sung by Matro Tikano in 1915, in Uhtua village
Lyrics Uhtua/Korpiselkä, Carelia, arranged by Emmi Kujanpää and Osiris Theatre

Kalina, oi malina
Trad Inkeri, lyrics Kati in 1881, Vaarnoja village/Osiris Theatre
Arranged by Thais Morell, Anna-Kaisa Liedes, Emmi Kujanpää and Osiris Theatre

Music for the audio play Oksana in The Mariupol Cellar
Into the Cellar 1-3 (Mariupol)
Äiti 1-6 (Mariupol)
Pombs 1-2
Composed and performed by Kaisa Siirala

Ridna mati moja
Composed by Platon Maiporoda
Lyrics by Andriv Malyshko

Kazvatti mindaa muamoin
Trad Carelian, sung by Helmi Rekina, Riikka Paakkunainen
Duo Pajolaine, Group Pit’k Randaane
Arranged by Emmi Kujanpää and Osiris Theatre

Oy voly voly
Melody and lyrics traditional

Morjens Viivi
Melody by Semen Klimovski, 18th century, Ukraine
Lyrics trad Stadin Slangi, arr Emmi Kujanpää

Kuusen juuret kuivettuvat
Composed by Lasse Turunen
Lyrics Kanteletar, trad

Chervona ruta
Comp and lyrics Volodymir Ivasuk

Plakucha gitara (The Crying Guitar)
Melody and lyrics traditional

Oi u luzi chervona kalyna
Composed and lyrics by Stepan Charnesky

Liisa Isotalo

My youngest grandchild was born some hours before Putin declared the war and the onset of the bloody war of aggression on 24.2.22. The child has grown, got stronger, learnt to talk, walk, dance and even sing. She is full of joy of life – radiating it to all of us.

The war in Ukraine has lasted as long, 2 years. It continues and causes immeasurable human suffering daily. Not only on the front but behind it, in towns and homes, even as far
as Finland.

What is the purpose of all this human suffering? And the variety of suffering? I just cannot comprehend it.

During the course of the war over 4 million Ukranians have had to leave their home country and take refuge in the European Union.

I wanted – or we in Osiris Theatre – wanted to meet these people. We had produced “A Woman in a Mirror” performance on 20.10.2022 in which immigrant women told of their
experiences and life stories. We realised then, that those who had fled wars had fears and traumas similar needs to us who had not experienced war: to live in peace, love and be
loved, feel secure and share joy with others.

I took my first step towards Ukraine, my Life! 2.4.2022, after the war had started. Emmi Kujanpää, the choir master, asked me to perform at Koskela Church Ukraine solidarity event. Emmi Kujanpää’s choir performed there as well. I recited the Eino Leino poem Terve Ukraina! The Ukrainian Ambassador Olga Diprova approached me and told me that she had found a shocking story of Mariupol, excepts from a young girl’s diary. The girl had written up her experiences having fled into a cellar of her apartment building in Mariupol, which was besieged by Russians. I got hold of these diary entries of a 16-year-old and had help in translating them. The contents of the diary burnt my fingers. It simply had to be made public right away. We started the work on the radio play. The play way broadcast in Yle Radio 1, in a Keidas programme by Tuuli Saksala in May 2022, before the final invasion of Mariupol. We decided to name the girl Oksana. With Oksana I was on a journey, which I couldn’t stop any more.

I started the script in the summer of 2022 by interviewing Ukrainian strawberry pickers in Ruutiainen strawberry farm in Kitee. We shared meals, had saunas and even sang together. After the sauna they called Nataliia’s mother in Ukraine and Nataliia and Juulia sang Ridna Mati Moja song, which thanks mother for the sacred cloth which she had embroidered and the gentle blessings she gave for their journey. Our moment together on the mobile was moving and strong with the mother, somewhere between Butsa and Kiev, Nataliia and Juulia at Kitee in our old smoker cottage. I listened and we all cried. I met up with Nataliia and Juulia and many strawberry pickers the following summer as well. Not all seasonal workers wanted to relay their experiences of the war. Some asked to be heard and I listened.

But how do you deal with narratives of war when you don’t wish to depress people even more? How do we maintain hope in spite of the losses and sorrow?

Olga, a young girl who had been with us in the production of Oksana in the Mariupol cellar, told us about her work experience in Helsinki, at Kanttia 2, the architects. She has met
Anastasiia Pihlman, an architect involved in the rebuilding of Tsernihiv, a destroyed town. I met Anastasiia last summer and we decided to co-operate to build an exhibition together
with Ahmed Alalousi, our photographer. After our initial meeting there was another devastating bombing in Tsernihiv to their historic and valuable theatre. We received a plea
for help from the theatre and started our co-operation.

On the stage of Ukraine, my Life! both in Kanneltalo Gallery, we display actual fragments of the destroyed theatre. OSIRIS Theatre is keen to participate in the rebuild of the theatre and the town.

I want to give my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have supported Ukraine, my Life! Project and travelled with us. There’re are so many of you! There’re even 20 interviewees!

Thank you to the co-operating theatres: Malmitalo, Kanneltalo, Aleksateri Theatre, Riihimaki Theatre, Järvenpää-talo, OSIRIS Theatre, Studio PihkaSound, The strawberry plantations of Ruutiainen and Snappertuna, Kanttia 2 Architects.

My special thanks to the Ukrainians who have let us use their stories and allowed them to be re-told. All of you who have participated in making Ukraine, my Life! in various ways: lent their drum sticks, accordions, strawberry baskets or scarves. Those who have worked and stretched the working groups to new creative methods and given their creativity to common use. Those with whom we have spent a couple of sweaty and intensive months in rehearsals, sometimes in temperatures -20C. Particularly you theatre professionals, who
came from the war zone and gave us your magnificent input for our audience. Thank you Ljubov Yanchuvevich, Anastasiia Redchuck and Vitalii Podhurskyi. Thank you all. We are alive. We want to tell stories.



Art Exhibition

The Art Exhibition connected to the project is open at Kanneltalo Gallery 19.2. – 9.3.2024. The Exhibition comprises photographs taken by Ahmed Alalousi in Finland during the OSIRIS Theatre Ukraine project together with photographs taken by Oleksandra Abdurasytova in war time Ukraine. The photographs tell a story of destruction caused by the war, overcoming fear, of dreams. They also tell stories of women who fled to Finland, their sorrows, their endurance, bravery and the power of re-building. The second part comprises the plans for the re-build of Tsernihiv town. Anastasiia Pihlman and Kanttia 2 Architects created the guidelines for the construction of the completely destroyed town.