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What kind of theatre do you make where your life is in every respect controlled by the state? We were privileged to learn exactly this from the two members of the Belarus Free Theatre who came at Druid’s invitation to speak at a public interview, chaired by Fintan O’Toole, in Project, Dublin, on Thursday 21 Feb 2008.
Natalia Kolyada and Vladimir Scherban held us spellbound with their eloquence, passion, directness, clarity and black humour and continuously knocked us out of the preconceptions we didn’t know we had. ‘No, we don’t do Shakespeare, hidden messages is the communist way, right now we do documentary theatre on contemporary Belarus life.’
‘I dream of a time when I can dream of the time when there was a dictatorship.’ Fintan O’Toole deftly chaired the interview and never failed to ask the questions everybody had wished to hear. Questions from the floor testified to the depth of the engagement and we all left the room enlightened and electrified. Other events of this kind will be held further down the line, so do remember to watch this space.
A podcast of the interview will be available shortly.
ABOUT BELARUS FREE THEATRE
Belarus Free Theatre has been seen in the UK, the US, France, Greece, Russia and elsewhere and acknowledged with the some of the most prestigious theatre, cultural and human rights honours in Europe including ‘Premiums of Europe’ award from the European Theatrical Convention and the French Republic Awards in Defence of Human Rights. It continues to draw international support from prominent playwrights Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and Václav Havel.
Belarus Free Theatre states that its task "will be ended when the situation in Belarus will be changed from dictatorial regime to democracy." This young, underground theatre troupe brought a rare performance of two plays (Being Harold Pinter and Generation Jeans) in repertory to the Soho Theatre, London from Feb 11 – 23, 2008.
Home for Belarus Free Theatre is various discrete apartments in Minsk where performances are held in private in order to elude the authorities of Alyaksandra Lukashenka, head of what’s known as the ‘last dictatorship in Europe.’ On 22 August 2007 a performance by this underground theatre group was stormed by state forces and fifty people were arrested.
BACKGROUND TO THE INTERVIEW
As Ireland approaches the centenary of the 1916 Rising, Druid, in common with many other cultural organisations will be seeking to reflect upon and interrogate the events leading to the foundation of the state.
As an early part of this process, the company is developing a programme of events with writers and theatre companies working in places of revolution around the globe today.
One such theatre company is Belarus Free Theatre. Based in Minsk, Belarus Free Theatre creates performances that are acclaimed internationally yet continuously face suppression on its home ground.
Druid in association with Theatre Forum arranged for a public interview with Belarus Free Theatre to take place at Project, Dublin, 21 February 2008.