Belarus Free Theatre seeks funding to avoid closure
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Monday 12 March 2012
The Belarus Free Theatre troupe faces closure in three months unless it gets significant funding, warns its founder.
Members of the company arrived in the UK yesterday for a performance at Shakespeare's Globe in London in Belarusian – a language that is banned in Europe's last dictatorship.
Natalia Koliada formed the company with her husband Nikolai Khalezin in 2005. She said: "We don't know what will happen ... we appeal to everyone to save us."
It needs about £200,000 a year to pay staff and cover costs, and raise funds from small and large donors to produce shows.
"We need global funds by the middle of June or ... the Belarus Free Theatre may stop," she said.
The group performs in secret in Belarus as it seeks to raise awareness of the repressive regime of neo-Soviet President Alexander Lukashenko.
Yesterday, 10 Free Theatre actors and students arrived in London from Minsk to start rehearsals for a forthcoming production of King Lear.
This forms part of the Globe-to-Globe project – Shakespeare productions by 37 international companies, each presenting the plays in a different language.
Koliada and Khalezin live in the UK with political refugee status after fleeing Belarus in 2010, but have kept in contact with Belarus and started early preparations with actors using Skype. They will rehearse in the Old Vic Tunnels, after support from Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey.
This is the first time the company has performed Shakespeare. "No one will ever have seen a production of King Lear like it," Koliada said.
The play will be performed in Belarusian, she said. The use of the language is significant. The country's official language is Russian.
"It is important. Our language is prohibited, it is only taught underground. If you speak Belarusian, it says you are democratic," she said.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Game of Thrones season 5: Emilia Clarke praises characters who 'accept their femininity'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate