The outspoken Belarus Free Theater company – targeted at home for publicly criticizing the government – has returned to New York City this spring with a politically charged repertoire.
Produced in partnership with The Public Theater, the three plays that are currently being performed at the Ellen Stewart Theater at La MaMa through May 15 are “Zone of Silence,” “Discover Love” and “Being Harold Pinter.” All of the troupe’s performances pay tribute to the political prisoners who have been detained or killed by the Belarus State Security Agency (known as the KGB) under current President Alexander Lukashenko.
Members of the troupe are no strangers to political persecution. This past January, troupe members left Belarus without the requisite exit visas to take part in the “Under the Radar Festival” in New York City, and were subsequently denied reentry back into the country. They have been living in exile ever since. (After its New York City run, the company’s actors and directors plan to temporarily relocate to London to perform and teach classes.)
In this audio slideshow, BFT co-founder Natalia Koliada discusses life under Europe’s last remaining dictatorship, the political power of theater and the troupe’s current production of “Being Harold Pinter.”