Belarus Free Theatre - Activities of The Free Theatre

Activities of The Free Theatre

  • "implementation of educational master-classes by the leading theatrical figures of Europe, USA and Russia for the young Belarusian dramaturges and scenarists";
  • "organizing the International Contest of modern dramaturgy 'Free Theatre' and publishing the almanac of laureate plays";
  • "underground performances of the Belarusian prohibited playwrights and best European and American plays that reflect modern life in all its aspects";
  • "public readings of plays of the Belarusian dramatists in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states, as well as at the leading European theatrical festivals";
  • "publishing of collection of the Contemporary Belarusian Dramaturgy";
  • "translating the plays of the young Belarusian dramatists into the foreign languages"; and
  • "participation in theatre festivals in Europe and the USA." (Official website)

Speaking about the Free Theatre's first production, Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis, its founder Nikolai Khalezin observes that Kane's play "'is about a woman's psychological decay, homosexuality and suicide," and that, while "There's no politics in the play," in it "there is something that is threatening to a dictatorship –– open conversation. The dictatorship says: "We have no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug abuse." And we say: we have to talk if we want to solve problems.'" Claire Bigg asks: "If the Free Theater has no political agenda, then what makes it so subversive in the eyes of the authorities?" In response, founder "Khalezin says Lukashenka's authoritarian regime, which he describes as 'collective farm-like,' has failed, unlike the Soviets and the Nazis, to establish an aesthetic platform to promote its doctrines. ... The Belarusian leadership, he says, therefore feels threatened by any form of individual artistic expression that illustrates present-day dilemmas. ... Despite the pressure and obstacles, the Free Theater manages to deliver cutting-edge, effervescent performances –– and Khalezin says the troupe is determined to fight for its right to do so until Lukashenka’s regime comes to an end. Although also observing that "The project is often referred to as 'political theatre'," Petz stresses that Khalezin himself "definitely does not consider his art political. He says that would be too boring and adds, 'We don't have a single classically political play in our repertoire.' For him, "uprightness" is more important than the classic political play."

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