Belarus dissidents take freedom fight to Commons

(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Tom Stoppard, Jude Law and dissident actors from Minsk will bring the real-life drama of the fight for freedom of creative expression to the House of Commons tomorrow. In what is thought to be the first such performance staged inside a working part of the British parliament, leading members of the Belarus Free Theatre will perform with Law in the Grand Committee Room of the Commons.

The theatre company was raided in its home town of Minsk three months ago and since then its stars, including producer Natalia Kaliada, have taken their message to other countries to draw attention to the repressive regime. The event is hosted by MPs Denis MacShane, Pamela Nash and John Whittingdale and will follow a public protest held at 5pm outside the London offices of Grayling PR, the only big western public relations company to continue to run an office in Minsk. The Free Theatre objects to Grayling's description of its country as "a market that is often misrepresented in global media. It offers foreign investors a stable investment and manufacturing base with a cost-effective yet highly-educated workforce".

At 6pm Stoppard, the playwright and campaigner for freedom of speech, will introduce the Free Theatre performance inside parliament. The event has been supported by the Young Vic and Almeida theatres, and has been organised by Index on Censorship, Free Belarus Now and the Belarus Committee.

Vanessa Thorpe Captions: Jude Law, Natalia Kaliada and Tom Stoppard at a performance by the Belarus Free Theatre in London last December.


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