Vault preview: Rooms Left Behind

Amy Sze and Anya Ostrovskaia open their show Rooms Left Behind at the Vault Festival tomorrow, 14 Feb.

It takes you on “an immersive journey into the intimate world of complex identities and a glimpse of political immigration … the theatrical installation explores the idea of what it means to leave your home and life behind.”

Where: Void at The Vaults

When: 14-19 Feb, various times

Ticket link:

Amy and Anya chatted with us about the idea behind this intriguing new piece.

Promotional photo for Rooms Left Behind

What is the best thing about performing at Vault?

Anya: I would say the best thing is to share the space with so many different, interesting artists. To be able to see their work, invite to your own, discuss, and be a part of a huge, and unique experience.

Amy: Agreed, it’s our first time at Vault Festival (or even any Fringe Festival), so getting to connect with other participating artists – especially international and migrant theatremakers – has been very inspiring.

This show began at LIFT Festival and now moves to Vault in the Void (a shipping crate). Why this particular venue?

We believe the immersive and intimate experience we are bringing to the festival would be best presented in a space that is not just uncomfortable but also liminal, giving the audience a sense of loss, journey and migration by itself.

What was the main reason for creating this show?

Anya: This show started as a conversation between two strangers, two migrants in a foreign country with an experience of not just leaving their home, but leaving in the midst of political oppressions their countries were going through. Myself and Amy shared so many similar feelings and wanted to express them and share them with others to find their important stories and share again.

Amy: Although I’m starting to develop my theatre career here in the UK, my heart has always been in Hong Kong. Creating this show (together with other shows that I’m working on) is a way for me to feel connected to home, to keep finding ways to share our stories, create dialogues, and touch one’s heart, and for this project, we particularly explore the abandoned space and absence of live performers. 

What parallels do you see between the plight of artists in Hong Kong and Ukraine?

Anya: I do not identify as a Ukrainian artist, even though my family does come from Ukraine. However, the story I present is the story of a Ukrainian artist. I believe both Ukraine and Hong Kong have been occupied and oppressed by countries (Russia and China) who want to take away their independence, their home, their identities, and both Hong Kong and Ukraine are fighting fiercely, as well as the artists that come from there.

Amy: Objectively speaking, we have very different circumstances in Ukraine and Hong Kong, for instance, one is still at war and one isn’t. However, no matter how much time we had to plan for leaving or how physically/mentally prepared we are, there’s always a permanent feeling of loss, when you no longer can stay in the land you call home. Yet, both Hong Kong and Ukrainian artists keep showing the world in various art forms about our love for our land and people, hoping that one day the work can heal a soul or even impact bigger changes.

What would you say to anyone nervous about this type of theatre to get them to consider coming along?

Anya: I would say, think about the beauty the suffering brings, and not the suffering itself. Think about people who have gone through a lot, and still are smiling, still wanting to be human and create art. Shows like ours aren’t just about pain and loss, but love and hope.

Amy: The subject matter we deal with is brutal in nature, but theatre is where we can face the brutality together, transform grief and anger into something else, and explore how we go forward as a community. (And it’s not 45 minutes full of violent footage, trust me. And no jumpscare involved.)