By Adam Hetrick
The Belarus Free Theatre will return to New York in April with its acclaimed production of Being Harold Pinter, in repertory with Zone of Silence and the New York premiere of Discover Love.
The troupe arrived in New York in early January after fleeing their homeland due to the political unrest following the contested re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko. The Public Theater hosted the U.S. premiere of Being Harold Pinter, which sold-out its New York run, and went on to play Chicago's Goodman Theatre in recent weeks.
The productions will run in repertory from April 13-May 15 at La MaMa. An official opening has been set for April 18.
"The Belarus Free Theatre proves the power of art. Theatre is not created in a vacuum and todayís headlines remind us of the importance of collective voices and how they can shape our lives," said La MaMa artistic director Mia Yoo. "It's a privilege to be part of the world theatre community helping this daring company tell their story. La MaMa is proud to be partnering with The Public to provide an artistic residency for the Belarus Free Theatre in New York City."
"The Belarus Free Theatre is an extraordinary company, both for the exemplary moral position they are taking for the freedom of the country and for the beauty and power of their art," Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis added. "In supporting them, we are honoring the greatest traditions of The Public Theater."
Here's how the works are billed:
Being Harold Pinter, adapted and directed by Vladimir Shcherban. Being Harold Pinter "incorporates transcripts from Belarusian political prisoners with excerpts from Harold Pinterís lifetime of writings. Creating visually striking images with simple means and underscoring the fierceness of Pinterís words with the intense physicality of the actors, Being Harold Pinter blurs the boundaries between art and reality, delivering a poignant contemporary commentary on violence, oppression, freedom and human dignity."
Zone of Silence, directed by Vladimir Shcherban and conceived by Shcherban, Natalia Koliada and Nikolai Khalezin. "Zone of Silence consists of three independent chapters reflecting on various taboos which are not open for wide discussion in Belarusian society. In the first chapter, 'Childhood Legends,' actors tell their own stories from their childhood; in the second chapter, 'Diverse,' actors relay stories collected by extraordinary Belarusians who experience the pressures of unmotivated social aggression; the third and final chapter, 'Numbers,' explores the dry numbers of Belarusian statistics."
Discover Love, written and directed by Nikolai Khalezin. Discover Love, "is a love story based on real events. The show is based on real facts from the life of Irina Krasovskaya, whose husband was kidnapped and murdered for lending assistance to the democratic body of Belarus. The story follows a wifeís reaction to the news of her husbandís murder: the shock, the realization, and most powerfully the loss of a love that continued to blossom."
The cast of Being Harold Pinter includes Pavel Garadnitski, Irene Iarochevitch, Mikalai Khalezin, Yana Rusakevich, Aleh Sidorchyk, Dzianis Tarasenka and Maryna Yurevich.
Single tickets will go on sale March 16. Phone (212) 475-7710 or visit LaMaMa. La MaMa e.t.c. is located at 74A East 4th Street in Manhattan.
The Belarus Free Theatre made headlines in late December 2010 when several of its members were arrested after protesting the Dec. 19 re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power for 16 years. His opponents claimed election fraud. Belarus Free Theatre members went into hiding following the harsh government reaction to the protests, and the Public Theater made arrangements to quietly transport the performers from the Eastern European nation in time to participate in the Under the Radar Festival in early January. Critics praised the bold, political work.