Belarus theater troupe, at risk at home, plans Chicago stay


The Goodman Theatre will host a monthlong series of performances by a theater company that has captured international headlines since it protested the Dec. 19 re-election of Belarus' president.

Members of the Belarus Free Theatre, who were arrested and harrassed in the wake of their protests alleging election fraud, went into hiding in their homeland. As they did, New York's Public Theatre quietly arranged to bring the actors to that city for a two-week run of "Being Harold Pinter."

The intensely physical piece, lacing transcripts from Belarusian political prisoners with Pinter's writings on freedom and oppression, will be performed in Chicago during a Feb. 1-27 residency.

In existence since 2005, the Belarus Free Theatre has become widely known in Europe as a unique underground troupe in the Belarus capital of Minsk. Lukashenko, who has held onto power for 16 years, is widely considered one of the last dictators in post-Soviet Eastern Europe.

The abruptly scheduled Chicago engagement should help buy time for its artists, who would be a serious risk were they to return home now.

The run here, in partnership with Northwestern University and the League of Chicago Theatres, was expected to be announced Monday night at the Public Theatre as part of a starry benefit performance hosted by Tom Stoppard and Tony Kushner.

Venues and dates are still being worked out for the local performances of "Being Harold Pinter," which runs 75 minutes and will be presented in Russian and Belarusion with English supertitles. For further information phone (312) 443-3800 or visit


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