Livestreamed on this page Monday November 2 to Saturday November 14 2015 10:30 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 12:30 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 1:30 p.m. EST (New York) / 18:30 GMT (London) / 19:30 CET (Berlin) / 21:30 FET (Minsk).
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Belarus Free Theatre’s Staging a Revolution Festival
Belarus Free Theatre presented the Staging a Revolution Festival livestreamed to audiences across the world by CultureHub on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv and simultaneously via Belarus Free Theatre's sister website The Ministry of Counterculture from Monday November 2 to Saturday November 14. Each evening’s performance will be available to view online here for two weeks after the livestream.
Staging a Revolution was a two-week festival of ten stage productions and discussions in London featuring some of Belarus Free Theatre's most acclaimed original productions, reinvigorated classics, and the world premiere of a new work, Time of Women.
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by Sarah Kane
Monday 2 November: livestream starts at 10:30 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 12:30 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 1:30 p.m. EST (New York) / 18:30 GMT (London) / 19:30 CET (Berlin) / 21:30 FET (Minsk).
Staging A Revolution kicks off with Sarah Kane’s final play, 4.48 Psychosis, the first production Belarus Free Theatre ever mounted underground in Minsk in 2005. BFT’s commitment to exploding taboos was cemented by the immediate condemnation of Lukashenko’s regime, who denied that themes touched upon in the play—suicide, mental instability, sexual and political violence—could ever exist within Belarus. Conviction in the artist’s duty to tell human truths and illuminate both obvious and hidden taboos within society has been a through-line in every BFT production over the past decade.
Let's Act: Stigma
Platform discussion: mental health and young people
Following Sarah Kane’s painfully open exploration of living with depression, based in large part on her own experience, the audience will be invited to discuss issues raised in the play with Dominic Dromgoole who knew the playwright, together with Sarah Brennan, CEO of campaigning charity, Young Minds.
Partner: Young Minds
Price of Money
Tuesday 3 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
Money makes the world go round. Whether you have it or you don’t, its grasp is inescapable as is its power to determine our lives, thoughts, and actions. Inspired by Aristophanes' Plutus, the first political satire from ancient Athens, Ben Johnson's work on the emerging ethics of capitalism, and the inspirational text of 93-year-old Stéphane Hessel, which became the manifesto for the Occupy movement, Price of Money (2014) is a scathing attack on inequality and excess.
Let's Act: Inequality
Platform discussion: the myth of austerity
How, in a world where the rich are getting richer, is there any need for austerity measures? Is the trickle-down effect of capitalism, that is cited to justify the call for growth, not working? What are the alternative narratives that challenge this political orthodoxy and what can be done to close the gap between rich and poor?
Speakers and partner to be announced.
New York ‘79 & Minsk, 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker
Wednesday 4 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
A UK premiere and a unique opportunity to see New York ‘79, BFT’s dramatic response to experimental novelist, feminist, and punk icon Kathy Acker’s eponymous text about American sexual identity, performed with its partner piece, Minsk, 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker (2011). Minsk, 2011 is both a love letter to a country that has lost its way and a raw examination of scars of repression in the Belarusian capital where sexual freedoms are oppressed and perverted by the authoritarian regime.
Let's Act: Discrimination
Platform discussion: sexual taboos in London 2015
New York in 1979, Minsk in 2011—what about London in 2015? Sam Roddick, artist and activist for the rights of trafficked sex workers and Jide Macaulay, LGBT human rights consultant, will lead this taboo-challenging session.
Partner: Kaleidoscope Trust
Thursday 5 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
Generation Jeans (2006) is an autobiographical duologue about rock music and resistance written and performed by BFT co-founder Nikolai Khalezin, with music by DJ Laurel. When Belarus was part of the Soviet Union its people were prohibited to wear jeans or listen to rock music. The buying or selling of either one could result in arrest at the hands of the KGB. Detained during a demonstration in 2004, Khalezin offers a candid account of the degradations of incarceration, the blossoming of young love, and how denim became a symbol of freedom under the dictatorship.
Let's Act: Resistance
Platform discussion: individual resistance in the surveillance state
Cyber anthropologist Gabriella Coleman and hacker Jake Davies will lead a conversation on surveillance, hacking, and privacy. Tricks of the trade will be played on the audience—you have been warned!
Friday 6 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
Discover Love (2008) is a stirringly powerful original drama, researched over nine years, based on the true story of Irina Krasovskaya and her husband Anatoly, a businessman who supported the Belarus opposition movement. One fateful evening in 1999, Anatoly called to say that he would be coming home late. Irina never saw her husband again. His car was later discovered, but his body has never been found; he simply “disappeared.”
Let's Act: Truth & Reconciliation
Platform discussion: the problems of forgiving and forgetting
Marina Cantacuzina, founder of The Forgiveness Project, leads a discussion with Irina Krasovskaya asking whether it is always possible or appropriate to forgive.
Partner: The Forgiveness Project
Zone of Silence
Saturday 7 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
Zone of Silence (2008) is a modern Belarusian epic in three independent chapters offering a panoramic view of everyday life under dictatorship and the taboos that are vehemently repressed. In Childhood Legends, the Company share stories from their earliest years, lives lived under the shadow of authoritarianism. Diverse is a vibrant collective portrait of extraordinary Belarusians on the margins of society, from the self-proclaimed Best Dancer in the Universe to an armless guitar-playing former mafia member. The trilogy ends with Numbers, a cascade of grim statistics about life in Belarus.
Let's Act: Transparency
Platform discussion: beyond the headlines in the Russia—Ukrainian conflict Leading experts on the region look at media representation of the conflict as it is reported in the UK, Russia and Ukraine. Speakers to be announced.
Partner: Frontline Club
Sunday 8 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
Belarus Free Theatre serve up food, music, dance, and Shakespeare as they share true stories from inmates, executioners, human rights lawyers, and families of the executed. Provocative and urgent, Trash Cuisine (2013) pierces the imagination with moments of the darkest humour as it challenges the ongoing existence of capital punishment in the contemporary world. 36 countries retain the death penalty in both law and practice, and Europe remains on the list of continents where capital punishment still exists—in 2015—because of Belarus.
Let's Act: Injustice
Platform discussion: delivering justice
Leading human rights lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith will stage a live capital trial, with “death row defendants” video linked in via live-stream and members of the audience selected (and vetted) to be jurors.
Time of Women
Tuesday 10 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
The world premiere of a play about women on the forefront of a movement for a democratic Belarus, women with an unflinching and unswerving dedication to the truth. One is Irina Khalip, the PEN Pinter prize-winning journalist, arrested in Belarus for her coverage of Lukashenko’s regime and described by Sir Tom Stoppard as, “the writer I wanted to be.” Another is journalist Natalya Radina who was also imprisoned after the presidential elections of 2010. Amnesty International named her a prisoner of conscience and demanded her release, as did the Committee to Protect Journalists. Today she lives in exile in Poland and continues to run the Belarusian independent media portal Charter 97.
Let's Act: Freedom of Expression
Platform discussion: media freedom health-check
Media freedom is contested in this country more than ever before, in particular with regards to social media. Led by Belarusian journalist Irina Khalip, this discussion will take a comparative health-check on freedom of expression in Belarus and the UK from women’s perspectives.
Further speakers and partner to be announced.
Thursday 12 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
Shakespeare's great play about speaking the truth was one of the highlights of 2012's Globe to Globe Festival. Drawing on their first-hand experience of tyranny and exile, the Company present a fresh reading of the text drawing parallels between Lear's spiralling court and Belarusian society, whilst also interrogating the universality of power unwisely yielded. A stripped-back set and BFT’s characteristically arresting visual style make this a vigorous and thoroughly contemporary Lear.
Let's Act: Morality
Platform discussion: the future of old age
Lear raises the most profound questions about age and power. But what would happen to power if humans didn’t grow old? How near are we to that future? And, how, until we get there, if indeed we want to, can we manage death better? Anders Sandberg, transhumanist philosopher with the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, and Avi Roy President of the Biogerontology Foundation discuss the future of death, and beyond with the audience.
Partner to be announced.
Being Harold Pinter
Saturday 14 November: livestream starts at 11 a.m. PST (Los Angeles) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2 p.m. EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT (London) / 20:00 CET (Berlin) / 22:00 FET (Minsk).
Being Harold Pinter (2006) incorporates testimonies from Belarusian political prisoners with excerpts from Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter's lifetime of writings. First performed in the UK in Leeds in 2007, it has become one of Belarus Free Theatre’s most acclaimed works. Blurring the lines between art and reality, it traces the relationship between power and violence in Pinter’s words, taken from five plays and his Nobel speech, to deliver a poignant contemporary commentary on institutionalised violence, freedom, and human dignity.
Let's Act: Detention
Platform discussion: tracking our moral compass
As support for human rights is coming under attack, those who care about justice can't leave the moral compass in the hands of one or two outspoken individuals anymore, however brilliant and inspiring they might be. This important conversation with survivors of torture living in the UK will bring themes in the play closer to home and will raise important questions about justice and compassion in our society. Speakers to be announced.
Partner: Freedom from Torture
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