Excerpts from an uncompleted play by Natal'ya Vorozhbit

Photo by Anastasia Vlasova

When the war started in Ukraine, writer Natal’ya Vorozhbit started asking herself questions. Questions like whether she could take in a refugee; whether she would give away information under torture; and whether she could fall in love with a soldier. These questions kept running through her head, and prompted her to travel to the frontline in Donbas to interview journalists, doctors, soldiers and people affected by the war.

Here Natal’ya Vorozhbit reflects on the war in Ukraine and how it inspired her to write Bad Roads.

What do I know about myself? That I am

a woman of nearly forty. I have a daughter and no husband. I write.

I’ve always known that I can


get a divorce

shout at my mother

earn money

get a grip on myself

drink wine

not go on a protest march

go on a protest march


I never knew I could

sing the national anthem on Maidan with lots of other people and with my hand on my heart

make up Molotov cocktails

bring tyres and set them alight

run away from shooting

go voluntarily into a warzone

live in a time of war

write in a time of war

shout at my mother in a time of war

drink champagne in a time of war

go running in the park in a time of war

sign a contract in a time of war

forget the war in a time of war


I don’t know what else I am capable of, a woman of forty, who has a daughter and no husband. Who writes.

Could I take in refugees into my home?

Could I die for my country?

Could I fall in love with a soldier?

Could I run away from my country?

Could I kill a person?

Could I betray a person?


When I asked myself these questions in 2014 I didn’t know that I would be able to answer one of them before long.


Bad Roads by Natal’ya Vorozhbit runs until 23 Dec in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. Click here to find out more.