Even if you’re dodging bullets you gotta eat

Ukrainian theater’s new drama? Making dumplings for soldiers. By CARA ANNA (AP)

DROHOBYCH, Ukraine (AP) — The theater was empty. The seats were covered against dust. But it was a moment of drama that Alla Shkondina had prepared for all her life.

“There is a saying that when the guns sound, the muses are silent,” the Ukrainian actress said, standing on the bare stage with a shawl wrapped around her to protect against the chill. “But we are not silent.”

She has retreated from the spotlight and now makes dumplings to send to soldiers, working alongside fellow artists in the Drohobych repertory theater’s cafe. It’s one small part of a massive war effort by defiant volunteers across the country who often find themselves playing unexpected roles.

In the theater’s warmly lit cafe, where snack bar popcorn has gone stale in the nearly month since Russia’s invasion, artists in this community near the foot of the Carpathian Mountains in southwestern Ukraine were rolling and filling dough to add to the thousands of dumplings they’ve sent to the front, or to displaced people in need.

“We did more than 3,000 pounds of meatballs,” said theater director Mykola Hnatenko. “One hundred fifty kilograms of stewed cabbage with meat. More than 10,000 verenyky (dumplings) with potato. Seventy kilograms of filling for borscht. Eighty kilograms of fried fish. Two thousand pancakes with meat, and 500 sweet pancakes. Now we’ve decided to do more food with proteins like meat.”

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