Internationally acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) will present a hard-hitting double bill of Numbers and Discover Love at the Young Vic with Jude Law, Ian McKellen and Samuel West all making guest appearances at the event on 5 December 2010.
Taking place just two weeks before the Belarusian presidential election on 19 December, the one-off event is part of Index on Censorship's campaign to highlight the appalling state of free expression in Belarus and a show of solidarity for BFT from the UK arts community.
Belarus Free Theatre stages underground and uncensored performances to draw attention to the problems faced in Europe's last dictatorship. Although banned in their home country where they perform in secrecy, the company has established a global reputation of artistic excellence with supporters include Tom Stoppard and Mick Jagger.
Belarus Free Theatre will present Discover Love, the love story of Irina Krasovskaya and her husband Anatoli Krasovsky, a supporter of the Belarusian democratic forces who was abducted and disappeared in Belarus in 1999, and Numbers, a piece which uses physicality, sound and projections to illustrate statistics detailing the bleak reality of the country's oppressive regime.
Founded by human rights activists Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Koliada, Belarus Free Theatre have been presenting translated classics and original work internationally since May 2005. The company's work, presented by director Vladimir Scherban has included 4:48 Psychosis, Being Harold Pinter, Generations Jeans and Eleven Vests.
In 2007, during a performance of Edward Bond's Eleven Vests, Belarusian special forces burst into the theatre arresting actors and audience members. Despite being outlawed for their involvement with BFT, their members have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the realities of Belarus' regime among artistic and political communities worldwide.
Index on Censorship is one of the world's leading organisations promoting free expression. The organisation was founded as a magazine in 1972 when writers, journalists and artists, took to the page to defend the human right of free expression in the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries.
Index on Censorship's campaign to highlight the state of free expression in Belarus has seen prominent figures from across the UK signing a petition calling upon the President of Belarus to respect fundamental human rights. Signatories include Jeremy Irons, Juliet Stevenson, Dominic Cooke and Neil Bartlett.
- by Andrew Girvan