In the weeks since the arrest of some members of the Belarus Free Theatre - rounded up as part of a wider crackdown on activists after a widely contested election in the Eastern European country - theater professionals around the world have expressed their support for the dissident performers by holding readings of "Being Harold Pinter," a collection of selected writings by the late Nobel laureate, who was a supporter of the theater troupe.
The latest actors to join in the chorus of support are Ed Harris and James Cromwell, scheduled to participate in a reading of "Being Harold Pinter" on Feb. 25 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown L.A. Organizers said the 7:30 p.m. reading will begin with a brief presentation by Amnesty International on the situation in Belarus followed by a performance of the play. There will also be a reception, catered by downtown's Church & State Bistro.
Reservations for the performance are available through suggested donations at the website www.theglobaltheatreproject.org or by calling (818) 823-0891. It is recommended that reservations be made by Feb. 22. Proceeds will go toward the Belarus Free Theatre; the establishment of a collaborative project between them, American theatre artists and students; and the Global Theatre Project, which is organizing the reading.
Performances of "Being Harold Pinter" to benefit Belarus Free Theatre also have been held in New York, Chicago, St. Paul and other cities.
Belarus Free Theatre, formed in 2005, has had to operate mostly in secrecy because of the repressive nature of the country's government. Members of the troup were arrested in Minsk in December after the contested election. But the performers eventually managed to leave the country and appear in New York in January as part of the Under the Radar Festival and in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre and other venues.
In 2009, the company performed its play "Discover Love" at REDCAT. The play was inspired by the life of Irina Krasovskaya, whose dissident husband was kidnapped and ultimately killed for his ties to a democracy movement.
Check back with Culture Monster this weekend for coverage of the Belarus Free Theatre's run at the Goodman in Chicago.