Staging a Revolution
Mathew Charles, Albina Kovalyova / UK / 2010 / 27 min.
It is not easy to get to a performance by Belarus's banned Free Theatre. People interested in going to a show are directed via email and SMS messages to a certain place on the edge of Minsk, from where they are then discreetly led to a small house. In "Europe's last dictatorship", as the Lukashenko regime is often known, this little building with a small improvised auditorium and a group of theatre enthusiasts is a unique island of freedom. Even though the actors are well aware that each performance in which they criticise the Lukashenko regime could well be their last, they still continue with their work. This is often very reminiscent of the "underground theatres" that operated in communist Czechoslovakia. Actors such as Jude Law and Sienna Miller have expressed their support for the members of the Free Theatre. The dramatist Tom Stoppard has provided financial support to the ensemble. There have also been demonstrations outside the Belarusian embassy in London, calling for the release of Kolya and Natasha, the theatre group's leading figures. They were arrested for taking part in an anti-government demonstration on the day of the London premiere of Albina Kovalyova and Mathew Charles's documentary.