In the war-ravaged city of Mykolayiv, actors have reopened their theater in the safety of an underground bunker.
These actors were photographed on August 25 preparing for the first theatrical performance at Mykolayiv's theater since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 halted cultural events.
Instead of their usual spacious and ornate theater (pictured above), the actors performed in a tiny room beneath the Mykolayiv theater that had been designated as a bomb shelter.
Actors who spoke to AFP ahead of the opening night stressed what they say is the importance of art in troubled times. "Actors, in these circumstances, are the doctors of the human soul," one said.
Mykolayiv is around 2o kilometers away from the front line of the current fighting but, according to local authorities, Russian rocket and missile attacks have hit the city most days since the invasion began.
Just 300 meters from the Mykolayiv theater, this administration building (above) was hit by a missile on March 29 that killed 37 people.
Along with the war's many other repercussions, the performance space has changed its name. Formerly known as the Mykolayiv Russian Drama Theater, it is now officially the Mykolayiv Theater of Dramatic Arts.
The first performance of the new season is an absurdist play about "the realization of our desires," according to the theater's artistic director.
The light-hearted theme of the opening play was reportedly well-received by audience members.
One attendee, Oleksandr Skotnikov, told AFP: "When we are under the bombs, as we are now, the theater gives us a big smile and inspires people to keep on living."