Fugitive Theater Group in Belarus May Miss NYC Festival

One of NYC's best theater festivals may be missing one of its most anticipated productions next month. The Under the Radar Festival-which brings groundbreaking shows from around the world to NYC for a whirlwind 11 day alt-theater overload-has booked the Belarus Free Theater to perform their acclaimed production Being Harold Pinter. (Tom Stoppard said the show "knocked me out.") But there's a slight problem. The government of Belarus, widely regarded in the west as a vile dictatorship, has driven the theater company underground as part of a crackdown on protests against a fraudulent election.

The Times reports that both founders of the troupe are now in hiding, and another member is in jail. "We don't know what happens next, and any kind of development is possible," says company co-founder Natalia Kolyada. "Every one of us could be taken from the street, from apartments, from any place that we go. But we still hope to go to New York, because we understand it is important to speak on behalf of Belarus, so that the voices of those arrested can be heard in the world."

Mick Jagger and Stoppard are among the celebrities who joined a protest in London last night calling for the release of the jailed performers, and Under the Radar founder Mark Russell tells the Times, "We still have high hopes. We're not in touch with them right now, but efforts are being made around the world to secure their release and enable them to travel." Kinda puts Julie Taymor's problems into perspective, huh?


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