Olimpia Dobrovolska

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Olimpia Dobrovolska
Dobrovolskaiya Olimpia Ostapovna.jpg
Olimpia Ostapivna Dobrovolska

(1895-07-31)July 31, 1895
Odessa, Ukraine
DiedFebruary 2, 1990(1990-02-02) (aged 94)
New York, USA
Occupation(s)actress, theater director

Olimpia Ostapivna Dobrovolska (31 July (12 August) 1895 – 2 February 1990) was a Ukrainian theater actress, play director, theater teacher and theorist of Ukrainian art of the 20th century. She was a wife of an actor Yosyp Hirniak.

Early life and education[edit]

Olimpia Dobrovolska was born on 31 July (12 August) 1895 in Odesa.[1] In 1915, she graduated from Lysenko Drama Institute in Kyiv.[2]


In 1916, 20-year-old Dobrovolska was associated with the Kurbas group and was one of the founders of the Kyiv Academic Young Theatre (Molodyi Teatr) and played there until 1919.[3] Since the foundation of Franko Theater in January 1920 until 1922, Dobrovolska worked there.[4] In Franko Theater, she met an actor Yosyp Hirniak and married him.[5]

In 1922, Dobrovolska and her husband were among the first employees of the Berezil Theater of Les Kurbas in Kyiv.[2] In 1926, she moved to Kharkiv together with the Berezil theater.[1]

In December 1933, Dobrovolska’s husband Hirniak was arrested by the Stalinists, and in 1934 he was exiled to the camps in Karelia on charges of participating in a “national terrorist organization”.[6] Dobrovolska remained in Kharkiv, and since 1935, she joined the troupe of the Shevchenko Ukrainian Drama Theater in Kharkiv.[7]

In 1937, Dobrovolska was arrested and exiled to Chibyu, Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, along with her husband.[2] There she worked in the Kosolapkin theater.[3]

In 1940, Dobrovolska and her husband received permission to return to Ukraine and moved to Cherkasy where Dobrovlska worked in Cherkasy Drama Theater.[7] In 1942, Dobrovolska and her husband moved to Lviv and lived there during Nazi occupation.[8] During this time, she played on the stage of the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet.[1] In 1944, Dobrovolska was forced to emigrate to Austria, then to Germany.[8]

Along with her husband, Dobrovolska directed the Theater studio in Austria and Germany.[7] In 1947, their Theater studio came on tour to the American zone of Germany and since then operated in West Germany until 1949.[6]

Emigration to the USA[edit]

In 1949, Dobrovolska and her husband emigrated to the United States.[7] In 1949-50 season, they staged six plays in New York.[6] In 1953-1955, Dobrovolska directed Ukrainian theater in the United States.[7]

From 1956 to 1964, she headed the Theater of the Ukrainian Work in New York and her own school of artistic reading.[5] As a director, Dobrovolska made productions Forest Song and Orgy by Lesya Ukrainka and Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen.[1]

Olimpia Dobrovolska died on 2 February 1990 at a nursing home in New York at the age of 94.[3]


In 1985, a book Undefeated Berezil Actors by Valerian Revytsky dedicated to Dobrovolska and Hirniak was published in New York.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "Dobrovolska, Olimpiia". www.encyclopediaofukraine.com. Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  2. ^ a b c "За лаштунками театру" (PDF). Our Life: 9–10. December 1965.
  3. ^ a b c "Olimpia Dobrovolska, famed actress". The Ukrainian Weekly. February 25, 1990. Retrieved 2021-10-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Йосип Гірняк – безсмертна мистецька душа". archive-ktm.ukma.edu.ua. Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  5. ^ a b "Що таке ДОБРОВОЛЬСЬКА ОЛІМПІЯ - УСЕ (Універсальний словник-енциклопедія) - Словники - Словопедія". slovopedia.org.ua. Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  6. ^ a b c "Про Йосипа Гірняка. З нотатників, спогадів, листів". Наше Життя. February 1989. Retrieved 2021-10-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b c d e "Добровольська Олімпія Остапівна — Енциклопедія Сучасної України". esu.com.ua. Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  8. ^ a b Hnatiuk, Ola (2020-01-28). Courage and Fear. Academic Studies PRess. p. 342. ISBN 978-1-64469-253-0.
  9. ^ Revytsky, Valerian (1985). Undefeated Berezil Actors (PDF). New York: Ukrainian Writer's Association in Exile "Slovo".