NEWS: Famous radical underground theatre celebrates tenth anniversary

Image: Jane Hobson

One of the most famous radical underground theatres in Europe has announced plans to mark its tenth anniversary.

The Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) was formed in March 2005 in Belarus, as a response to the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

Ten years on, and they are planning a festival, Staging A Revolution, and a solidarity concert titled Staging A Revolution: I’m with the Banned to mark their tenth year.

Natalia Kaliada (pictured), one of the co-founders of the BFT, said: “We knew from the beginning this might not be an easy path to walk.

“Everything we were doing on stage was automatically banned and restricted.

“After the first production, the government decided that nothing good was going to come from our initiative and they started restricting and making even more problems for us.

“There was and still remains a prohibition not only on what we do but also on who we are.

“BFT is a unique group of people and we are happy to be enriched by people from different parts of the world who share our artistic and civil vision.”

Staging A Revolution is a two week festival in November in London, which includes performances in undisclosed underground locations, to reflect how the BFT started in their home country.

It will also feature shows at the Young Vic, which they describe as their “first home” after they were offered political asylum in the UK in 2011.

The performances, which are based around ten taboo subjects, will feature a discussion afterwards featuring artists, campaigners, journalists and activists.

Staging A Revolution: I’m with the Banned is a concert taking place at the Koko, and features performers from across Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, including Pussy Riot and David Gilmour.

The company are also launching their first online platform, called The Ministry of Counterculture.

Georgie Weedon, from the company, said: “BFT was founded under an extremely restrictive political regime.

“A place where it is still illegal to clap on the street, hold gatherings of more than 20 people without government permission, or to express artistic views freely.

“The creation of the BFT was an artistic act in itself, a counter to the official and allowed state-curated culture of Belarus.

“The Ministry of Counterculture is an extension to this.

“A global place for the free expression of ideas and discussion, for creative acts, campaigns and the dissection of taboos.”

The Belarus Free Theatre have performed in over 30 countries over the past ten years.

The company was formed in response to all theatres being state owned in Belarus under the dictatorship.

Staging a Revolution festival takes place from November 2 to 14. Staging a Revolution: I’m With The Banned is on October 18. For more information on both events, and the BFT, click here.

James Lillywhite

James Lillywhite

James is the News and Jobs Editor for A Younger Theatre. When not keeping his finger on the pulse of all things theatre he's reading the news on Brighton's Juice 107.2 and reporting for Latest TV News.