fbpx Insulted. Belarus(sia) by Andrei Kureichik | HowlRound Theatre Commons

Livestreamed on this page from Tuesday 17 November to Thursday 19 November 2020.

United States
Tuesday 17 November to Thursday 19 November 2020

Insulted. Belarus(sia) by Andrei Kureichik

Performances in Russian and English followed by a discussion of the current events that inspired the work

Tuesday 17 November to Thursday 19 November 2020

Rogue Machine Theatre, Arlekin Players' Theater, Broadband, and the Cherry Orchard Festival presented readings of Insulted. Belarus(sia) in English and in Russian followed by a conversation about the political unrest in Belarus livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv from Tuesday 17 November to Thursday 19 November 2020.

The play tells the story of the first month of the Belarusian revolution, its ups and downs on the eve of the inevitable democratization of the country after 26 years of dictatorship. All characters have real prototypes; in some you will recognize former and current leaders of the country, in others – incredible Belarusians who have gone out to battle the totalitarian machine, sometimes at the cost of their lives, their freedom, and their loved ones. They represent polar points of view in the awakened Belarusian society. The author seeks to understand how the Belarusian revolution differs from Prague in 1968, Russia in 1991 and Ukraine in 2014. He tells of the tragic escalation of violence and repression employed by the authorities to repress freedom-seeking Belarusians with bayonets and clubs, and how solidarity, truth and faith in human values inevitably lead to victory over evil.

Tuesday 17 November

A performance of Insulted. Belarus(sia) by Andrei Kureichik
Arlekin Players Theater, Boston
5 p.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 7 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 8 p.m. EST (Boston, UTC -5)
(Russian, with English subtitles)
Directed by Igor Golyak

Novice: Anna Furman
Avian: Gena Ravvin
Cheerful: Polina Dubovikova
Mentor: Darya Denisova
Corpse: Misha Tyutunik
Young Buck: Boris Berdnikov
Oldster: Alex Petetsky

Produced by
Igor Golyak, Arlekin Players Theater
Sara Stackhouse, BroadBand Collective
Co-presented by Cherry Orchard Festival

Wednesday 18 November

A performance of Insulted. Belarus(sia) by Andrei Kureichik with RogueMachine, L.A.
5 p.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 7 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 8 p.m. EST (Boston, UTC -5)
Directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos

Novice: Ashlee Atkinson
Avian: Joshua Bitton
Cheerful: Rachel Brunner
Mentor: Caroline Clay
Corpse: Alex Neher
Young Buck: Aric Floyd
Oldster: Joe Spano

Directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos
Executive Producer: John P. Flynn
Produced by Joshua Bitton and Rachel Brunner
Stage Manager/Sound designer/Zoom master: Michelle Hanzelova
Rogue Machine Artistic Director: John P. Flynn
Co-Artistic Directors: Guillermo Cienfuegos & Elina de Santos

Thursday 19 November

Special Artists Talk:
Insulted Belarus(sia): The Play. The Documentary. The Movement.

8 a.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 10 a.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 11 a.m. EST (Boston, UTC -5)

Playwright Andrei Kureichik (from temporary exile in Bulgaria)
Translator John Freedman (from Moscow)
RogueMachine co-artistic director Guillermo Cienfuegos (L.A.)
Arlekin artistic director Igor Goylak (Boston)
Moderated by Dr. Barbara Wallace Grossman

The backstory of Andrei Kureichik’s Insulted. Belarus(sia) is quite extraordinary. It is the rare case of a genuine work of dramatic art being created in real time about a topic that is self-destructing and transforming furiously even as each word is being tapped out on a computer keyboard.

When Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (“the last dictator in Europe”) chose on August 9, 2020, to falsify an election he had lost in a landslide, he thought he was just bending a nation to suit his own needs as he had done for 26 years. In fact, he set off a revolution, as the Belarusian people poured onto the streets to support Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the woman they actually had elected. He also angered, and inspired, Kureichik, Belarus’s top playwright and screenwriter, famed for his good-natured comedies. While posting a prodigious amount of exhortative information about the protests online, Kureichik began putting together a play that is based, in part, on statements made by Lukashenko and Tikhanovskaya, who are represented in the play as OLDSTER and NOVICE. Their statements are interwoven with five imagined characters who speak the language and thoughts that were coming to Kureichik fast and heavy.

These five other characters present an overview of Belarusian society. MENTOR isan aging teacher who believes in “law and order” and helps guarantee Lukashenko’s reelections every four years by falsifying results. CORPSE is a young soccer fan with too much energy to burn who is sick of living under the same president his entire life. AVIAN is a storm trooper who trained during the Maidan revolution in Ukraine and is now in Belarus to put down rebellions there. CHEERFUL isa high-spirited, loving young woman who believes in asking the Universe to send her good vibes, and whose sister is to marry the storm trooper. Finally, there is YOUTH, Lukashenko’s teenaged son Kolya, who is being groomed for the presidency, but would prefer to play internet games.

The lives of every one of these people – with the possible exception of Kolya, for his debt to destiny is yet to be paid – will be impacted tragically by Lukashenko’s decision to crush the revolution with violence and torture. And yet, the resulting play – hard-hitting as it is – is filled with humor, hope and dignity.

Kureichik completed Insulted. Belarus(sia) on September 9. He sent it to translator John Freedman at 3:13 p.m. Central European Time, asking if I would translate it and organize a few readings in order to spread the word about the events in Belarus. Within ten minutes, John had lined up six theatres, including New York Theatre Workshop, even without a script they could read. Three days later John finished the translation and got it out to dozens more theatres. As of early November, 66 companies in 22 countries are participating in the Insulted. Belarus(sia) Worldwide Reading Project. More will join soon.

Andrei Kuriechik was able to escape from Belarus, avoiding arrest, and will join this talk from an undisclosed location while in hiding.


Andrei Kureichik (playwright) is one of the top playwrights, screenwriters and producers in Belarus. Author of some 30 plays, he has 17 credits on IMDB as a screenwriter, 4 as a producer, 3 as a director. His plays have been performed at the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre and Janka Kupala Theaters in Moscow and Minsk, as well as at numerous theatres throughout the former Soviet Union. Andrei wrote a much-read article about the events in Belarus two weeks ago for American Theater magazine. He is a member of the Coordinating Council of Belarus, whose members are called upon to lead the transition to a new government in Belarus. Many of the members are now in prison. He will be joining us virtually for these readings.

John Freedman (translator) has written or edited and translated eleven books in the sphere of Russian drama and theater, including Silence’s Roar: The Life and Drama of Nikolai Erdman and Provoking Theater: Kama Ginkas Directs (co-authored with Ginkas), and his play Dancing, Not Dead won The Internationalists’ Global Playwright Contest in 2011. His Real and Phantom Pains: An Anthology of New Russian Drama is the largest collection of Russian plays ever published. He currently holds the position of Advisor to the Artistic Director at the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre in Moscow. He was the theater critic of The Moscow Times from the paper’s inception in 1992 until October 2015. He has been: a columnist for Plays International since 1994; the editor of the Russian Theater Archive for Harwood Academic Publishers (1992-2002); and has frequently contributed to the New York Times and other periodicals.

Guillermo Cienfuegos (director, RogueMachine reading, co-artistic director) was recently featured in the “Role Call: People to Watch” issue of American Theater Magazine. He currently serves as co-artistic director at Rogue Machine, where he directed the World Premieres of Neil McGowan’s Disposable Necessities, David Jacobi’s Ready Steady Yeti Go and the Los Angeles premiere of Greg Keller’s Dutch Masters (Stage Raw Award winner for Best Two Person Performance). Cienfuegos won both the Ovation and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Director for his production of Shakespeare’s Henry V at Pacific Resident Theatre. Other credits at PRT include Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, Pinter’s The Homecoming and the world premieres of Safe at Home: An Evening with Orson Bean (LADCC Award for Best Solo Show),The Fried Meat Trilogy, Lions and Julia (which transferred to New York’s 59E59 Theatre, Off-Broadway). He also directed the Los Angeles premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Between Riverside and Crazy at the Fountain Theatre as well as productions at the Blank Theatre Company, Chalk Repertory Theatre and Nom de Guerre. Cienfuegos is a graduate of the American Conservatory Theatre and is a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts.

Igor Golyak (director, Arlekin reading, artistic director) received the 2020 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director for Arlekin’s The Stone and was also nominated in the same year for his direction of Arlekin’s The Seagull. He is an Associate Professor at the Boston Conservatory, and has spent over a decade teaching the art of theatre. He is the founder of the Igor Golyak Acting Studio and Artistic Director of Arlekin Players Theatre which has won numerous awards in the United States and internationally and most recently an Elliot Norton award for his production of Dead Man’s Diary at Arts Emerson. Arlekin Players Theatre is a multicultural, multi-national collaborative that is growing year to year in the number of audience members, company actors, and volunteers. His theatre has been invited to perform on famous stages and at world-renowned festivals all over the world, including Moscow Art Theatre, and festivals in Yerevan, Armenia, New York City, Chicago, Lviv, Ukraine, Monaco, and many others.

Dr. Barbara Wallace Grossman (moderator) is a theatre historian, voice specialist, director, and author with strong interests as a researcher and practitioner in contemporary musical theatre, Holocaust and Genocide-related theatre and film, arts advocacy, and mindfulness as a way to alleviate anxiety, develop resilience, and promote positive change. Professor of Theatre at Tufts University, her publications include Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice (Indiana University Press) and A Spectacle of Suffering: Clara Morris on the American Stage (Southern Illinois University Press). A presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts (1994-1999) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (2000-2005), she served as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council from 2007 to 2019. In addition to her long affiliation with the American Repertory Theater as a member of its Board of Advisors, she serves on the Anti-Defamation League's New England Regional Board and on the Board of Directors for MassCreative, the most effective advocacy organization for the creative community in Massachusetts.

About HowlRound TV
HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email [email protected], or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

Bookmark this page

Log in to add a bookmark

Find all of our upcoming events here.

Upcoming Events


Add Comment

The article is just the start of the conversation—we want to know what you think about this subject, too! HowlRound is a space for knowledge-sharing, and we welcome spirited, thoughtful, and on-topic dialogue. Find our full comments policy here

Newest First