December 5, 2017

In the middle of the Maidan revolution in Ukraine, on a city square in Kiev, someone handed me the lyrics to a song. A protester was playing it on an upright piano as couples danced and people sang along. The mood was high-spirited, though the lyrics, in Ukrainian, spoke of flaming tires and a government of criminals that wouldn’t be tolerated anymore.

This was “Counting Sheep,” billed as an “immersive guerrilla folk opera,” at 3LD Art and Technology Center. Presented by Hot Feat USA, it plunges audience members into the uprising, which lasted for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014, resulting in the ouster of Ukraine’s president. I don’t speak Ukrainian, though, and I couldn’t have been the only one there who looked at a sheet of lyrics I didn’t understand and declined to sing them. (Later, I asked the show’s publicist for a translation.) Isn’t knowing what you’re advocating a basic rule of rebellion?