Joseph Campbell's interpretations of humanity's various myths are popular because they ring true; he was remarkably effective in revealing their wisdom about life and even death. Coming from a very similar place (though perhaps somewhat more curatorial in her process) is Virlana Tkacz, the director of the Yara Arts Group. She has been researching ancient songs and poems from Ukraine, Mongolia, Central Asia and points further east for years, and her work with the troupe reflects her desire to re-integrate the ancient "ways of knowing," as she puts it, into modern life.
I first caught Yara's work in 1999 when I was assigned to review their musical play "Circle." It blew me away with its combination of great singing, songs, inventive staging, and earthy humor. (It was also where I first met Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, who had a role in the play.) Ever since then I've thought more people should know about Yara, and now that I am "vlog enabled" (!) I finally can not only write about it, but bring you an interview with Virlana, and present some excerpts from Yara's most recent production, "Scythian Stones."
Even if you missed this last production, the good news is that Yara continues to create these intimate theatrical pieces here in NYC (and abroad, in the countries from which much of the the music and myth come) and you can catch more of them in the future. And there is more to Yara than just theater, as a visit to the Yara Arts Group website will reveal.