These photos were taken by actor Michael Laurence at a demonstration in front of the Belarus Embassy of London in support of the Belarus Free Theatre. Michael worked with BFT Artistic Directors Natalya Kolyada and Nikolai Khalezin at the Lark Play Development Center in September, and is a part of the groundswell of support trying to help these artists make it to New York City for their January performances of Being Harold Pinter at the Under the Radar Festival.
That groundswell has now reached over 1,000 signatures in an online petition, and now momentum is gathering for a nation wide reading of Being Harold Pinter. Theatres will invite actors from their community to read through the play and encourage audiences to sign the petition. If you’re a theatre interested in participating, please email Tracy Francis or Gulgun Kayim for more information. You can learn more about this effort here.
Participating theatres will begin the performance by reading the following note sent over the weekend by the artists of Belarus Free Theatre.
Dear friends and colleagues:
Today, in these very difficult days for Belarusians, your solidarity and your support is very important to us. Now it is critical more than ever for Belarusians to feel part of the world, part of one big family.
On December 19th, more than 50 thousand people went to the streets to protest the election fraud. According to polls, Alexander Lukashenko won about 32% of the votes. According to law, a second round of elections must be held, in which, according to sociologists, he would fail. The Belarusian dictator, not wishing to lose the power, launched unprecedented repressions. In the course of one night that followed the election day, more than a thousand people were beaten up and arrested. Today these people are in Belarusian prisons. Today there are 22 people in the KGB prison, 5 of them are the presidential candidates in the past election; 3 are journalists, and others are the heads of their headquarters and trusted persons of the candidates. They have been accused of organizing a coup d’etat, and a criminal article– which means up to 15 years years in prison. Today these people are held hostages by the authorities, along with the remaining nine and a half million Belarusians living in the country.
Today Belarus is immersed in darkness. Around the clock the authorities continue arresting activists, destroying editorial offices of independent newspapers and websites, and conducting searches in apartments.
What you are doing today for Belarus is very important. We are grateful for your support and solidarity, and ask that you do not stop in this noble impulse – we ask you to put pressure on your governments at the highest level, right up to senior executives of the state. The world community has to impose sanctions against Lukashenko’s regime, and “the Europe last dictatorship” must disappear from the world map, and instead a free Belarus must spring up – another European country, living under the laws of the civilized world. The lives of nine and a half million people are at stake.
We look forward to your solidarity.
Together we shall win!
Natalya Koliada, Director of the Belarus Free Theatre
Nikolai Khalezin, Artistic Director of the Belarus Free Theatre
Vladimir Scherban, Stage Director of the Belarus Free Theatre