Semion Kyslyi

Semion Kyslyi was born in 1994 in Kharkiv. Ever since he was a child, he knew he wanted to be an actor. After telling his parents about it when he was six years old, his parents decided to send him to a specialized art school, where he studied acting.

Since childhood, he has taken part in school theatrical productions and recitation competitions. As he got older, his love for theatre grew. When he was a teenager, on his way to forming his identity and understanding who he was, he went to a soccer stadium with a local team match. He was captivated by the atmosphere of what was going on. Tens of thousands of people singing in unison, the flags, the colored bleachers, the fire shows and the performances by the fans captured his spirit.

The stadium became his second home.

He started to attend soccer matches often, meeting new people and getting into the subculture of being a fan. By the time he was 15 he became a member of a group of soccer hooligans. His life became full of adrenaline, violence and risk. He found his brotherhood in this group. He liked the feeling of being part of a strong group.

On weekends he would go to the stadium and get into fights with hooligans from other teams and at the same time he continued to play in the theatre, leading concerts in the opera house. He was living a double life and he loved it. It was a powerful experience in his life, his search for myself. Despite everything, he knew that his dream of becoming an actor guided him.

After graduating from school he went to Kyiv to study at the theatrical university and that was the end of his life as a hooligan. He found in theatre new tools to express himself and learn about himself. He had always been interested in the European theatrical context and famous contemporary directors whose plays he watched on video when he was a student. After graduating in 2016, he took part in a theatrical retreat at GogolFest where he met British director, Peter Cant. They shared a similar approach to theater, to art, to the search for new forms, and since then they started to work together and create performances both in Ukraine and Europe.

He worked in the Dakh Theatre in Ukraine and in parallel created performances with various teams and directors from England and Germany. In 2019, Sam and Pete created Hooligan Art Community in Kyiv. Their first work was the play HOOLIGAN which was based on Sam’s life when he was a soccer hooligan. In this play they reflected on the theme of identity, masculinity, the group and the individual, the definition of us and others. Now, Sam is in London presenting his new show BUNKER CABARET. It’s very strange to realize that time goes on, but the creative questions remain the same, and by going back to them again and again he discovers new sides of himself as an artist since the beginning of the War.

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Semion Kyslyi