Actors from 'oppressive' Belarus in Kilkenny


A GROUP of actors who are to perform at the Kilkenny Arts Festival this weekend, say they are banned from performing in their own country.

Members of the Belarus Free Theatre have been arrested, thrown in prison, fired from their jobs and have even lost their homes because of their involvement with the group.

The actors, who are forced to play in woods and secret locations in their native Belarus, say they want Irish people to understand the reality of living in "an oppressive and dangerous dictatorship".

"It is prohibited in Belarus to talk on contemporary issues of the world and particularly of those of our own country," said Natalia Kiliada, group producer.

The 12-member group, who play for three nights at the Arts Festival this weekend, say they live in Europe's last dictatorship.

"Europe needs to understand that Belarus is the last dictatorship in Europe and only when this ends will Europe be completely free of dictators for the first time," said Ms Kiliada.

All forms of free speech and independent theatre are silenced in Belarus under the rule of Alexander Lukashenko, who is barred from entering the US and the EU.

"The only way for us to perform is to go underground and so free public space exists only underground in Belarus," she added.

"I cry when I go abroad because my parents are not with me and they will never live the normal, calm life we witness overseas," said Ms Kiliada.

The Belarus Free Theatre will appear at Kilkenny's Watergate Theatre from Friday, August 15- 17th.



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