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Oral History: Virlana Tkacz

TkaczGVSHP is excited to share our oral history collection with the public, and hope they will shed more light on what makes Greenwich Village and the East Village such unique and vibrant areas. Each of these histories highlights the experiences and insights of long-time residents, usually active in the arts, culture, preservation, business, or civic life of the neighborhood.  Recently we launched new collections focusing on the East and South Villages, and have been highlighting some of the featured individuals on Off the Grid.  These posts can be found here, and the entire oral history collection here.

Virlana Tkasc is the founding director of the Yara Arts Group, located at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. Yara is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary and Virlana’s art is widely acclaimed. She has created twenty nine original theater pieces at Yara including collaborations with Eastern European experimental theater companies and with artists from Mongolia, Siberia, Kyrgyzstan and other distant regions. She has taught at Harvard, Yale, and NYU.

An image from recent Yara Arts Group production Coffeehouse #122
An image from recent Yara Arts Group production Coffeehouse #122

GVSHP was very proud and excited to have Virlana join our oral history project. She was born in Newark but visited the East Village often as a child, moved here as a young adult, and still lives in the same apartment she moved into in 1974.

As a long time East Village resident, she has witnessed decades of change in the neighborhood, and laments the demise of the old small businesses and how young artists can generally no longer afford to live here.  She discusses the many divides within the community as a whole and its many constituent communities, including hippies, artists, junkies, and the Ukrainian community.

She also discusses traveling the world for her artwork and working with diverse cultures throughout countries of the former Soviet Union. Listen to her highlight below, and click here to access the full oral history and transcripts.

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