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Edmonton-based theatre artist Lianna Makuch continues to demonstrate the power of art through her evocative work in theatre.

The director’s most recent stage production, First Métis Man of Odesa, was recognized on June 27, 2023, with three Dora Awards in the Independent Theatre Division from five nominations: Outstanding Production, Outstanding New Play, and Outstanding Direction.

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards are presented annually by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts.

The world premiere of First Métis Man of Odesa was held in Toronto on March 31, 2023, at The Theatre Centre. The Punctuate! Theatre production, supported by TSF, was written by Matthew Wishart MacKenzie and Mariya Khomutova, directed by playwright and actor Lianna Makuch.

First Metis Man of Odesa is a love story that spans continents, a pandemic, war, the beauty and challenges of bridging cultural divides and the challenges of understanding a partner’s background. This is a true story that is still unfolding.

The play continues to tour Canada to wide acclaim and stellar reviews that can be read on Punctuate! Theatre’s website.

TSF was first introduced to Lianna as she was developing her one-woman play, Blood of our Soil – a personal story of war and trauma inspired by her grandparents that depicts the historic struggles of the Ukrainian people while drawing disturbing parallels to today’s reality. This production continues to be further developed under a new name – Barvinok.

A recent play – Alina – was inspired by a residency with the IZOLYATSIA Cultural Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she met a 19-year-old volunteer combat medic who left everything behind to go to the front line of one of the deadliest battles of the war in eastern Ukraine in 2015 – the battle for the Donetsk airport. Alina is her story.

Lianna Makuch was the recipient of the 2021 REACH Mentorship/Residency for the Arts Award.

Inspired by her Ukrainian heritage, the actor/playwright/director firmly believes that artists have an advantage and responsibility to share the human stories that can be universally understood.

“So much of our identity is encapsulated in culture and the arts. It’s more important than ever to be a Ukrainian artist in light of the blatant attempt to erase Ukrainian culture,” states Makuch.  “It’s our role to help preserve and create the emotional experiences that evoke empathy and inspire engagement.”