UKRAINIAN circus artists who have collaborated with Czech performers for a moving Fringe show have thanked their friends in Prague for giving them “hope” after fleeing from Russian aggression.

Performers from the Kyiv Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Arts have joined together with artists from Cirk La Putyka to create an emotional show called Boom, which is running at the McEwan Hall in Bristo Square.

Through circus art, costumes and theatrical language, it tells the story of their first meeting, the things which connect them despite their different cultures, and how society views Generation Z.

Just a few days after Russia waged war on Ukraine, Cirk La Putyka reached out to students of the Academy to offer them sanctuary and a place to continue to their work, which eventually led to the creation of the current of version Boom.

@scotnational These circus performers from Ukraine and Czech Republic met just days after the war broke out - now they're here performing at #edinburghfringe ♬ original sound - The National

Oleksii Vakal and Kataryna Smyrnova, both 17, were left terrified when they discovered in the early hours of the morning on February 24 that Vladamir Putin had invaded their country. They had to move around Ukraine to protect themselves before receiving a special message from their friends in Prague.

Vakal said: “The night before the war started we had a party with friends. Daniil, who is in the show, woke me up at 5.30am and said the war has started.

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“I didn’t believe him at first and thought it was a stupid joke, but he said it was real.

“I called my parents and they came to us and we moved to Irpin for a few days before going to the border with Slovakia after we got the message [from Cirk La Putyka]. We waited there for a bus and then moved to Prague.”

Smyrnova added: “I was alone with my friends [when the war started]. We were so scared.”

When Cirk La Putyka reached out to them, it was frightening but a sign of hope at the same time, that there may be a way out for them from the devastation heaped upon Ukraine.

Vakal added: “It was all a huge shock to the system, we didn’t realise what was happening and we just did what we had to do.

“It was on the second day in Irpin [we got the message from Cirk La Putyka], and after we got the message we started to move to the border.

“It gave us hope.”

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Smyrnova added: “It also made us scared [getting the message] somehow because we didn’t know this company, and we just saw a message from our academy that this company can help us and we just went to our parents to say that we have this opportunity, can we go?

“Of course they said yes, you must try and move.”

The cast of Boom, a show created by Ukrainian and Czech circus performers, which is on at McEwan Hall in Bristo SquareTomas Hruby and Martin Kadrnozka (front) perform on stage at McEwan Hall

Cirk La Putyka had already written Boom before meeting the Academy performers. It focused largely on the energy of youth and how the younger generation was defined by social media and influencers.

But the performers – who range from age 14 to 32 - managed to weave the story of the war into the production and it has now taken on a different life without losing its original foundations.

Cirk La Putyka’s Martin Kadrnozka, 22, said some Ukrainians had already come to see the show and been touched by it.

He said: “We met a Ukrainian couple and they were really grateful. She had tears in her eyes after seeing the show.

“She was so grateful we broke this topic here and presented it at this time to show the people here what it [war] can be like.

“Everyone can imagine war is catastrophic and bad but when they see it, they really feel it. I think we made sure they can feel those emotions. It’s a beautiful show.”

Tomas Hruby, also of Cirk La Putyka, added: “I think it has got stronger [after working with the Academy].”

Although the war forced them to leave their precious homeland, Vakal said something very positive has come out of the tragic experience.

The cast of Boom, a show created by Ukrainian and Czech circus performers, which is on at McEwan Hall in Bristo SquareBoom focuses on the energy of youth

Vakal added: “It is not good to say but, because of war, we met beautiful artists and people and we have a big opportunity to perform with them in Edinburgh which is such a magic city.”

Director Rostislav Novak said he was proud of how the performers had united after he reached out to the Academy while he was locked in his home with Covid back in March.

He said: “The story behind this show, it’s touched me every day.

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“When I had Covid for the second time in March after the war broke out, I was stuck in my house and I was researching circus schools in Ukraine and I found the Academy and I wrote to all the email addresses.

“I got a reply saying please help us and we helped 34 students, offered them a safe space. We now have eight Ukrainians and eight Czechs performing in Edinburgh and I am so proud and happy of what we are doing on the stage.”

Boom is on at the McEwan Hall every day until August 28 except on August 15 and 22.