Free Theatre Belarus
The government in Belarus censors the arts, so performance troupe Free Theatre Belarus performs secretly, in converted houses, to avoid arrest.
Seventeen years after the U.S.S.R. dissolved, Belarus is one place where the bad, old, undemocratic dayshaven't really gone away; where the KGB is still called the KGB. A few days ago, two American actresses were detained by authorities on their way to appear with a theater company called Free Theater Belarus.
Free Theater Belarus is a small company that performs in people's homes. Aaron Landsman is an American playwright who also likes to stage plays in people's homes and offices.
"I do site-specific theater because I am interested in activating, or theatricalizing spaces that we go to everyday. Like, a house that people live in all of a sudden becomes something else when there is a play happening there. And as the audience member, you start to feel a little bit like you are an intruderm maybe you are not supposed to be here. You can question your own role as a viewer."
He got to know Free Theater Belarus after he read an article about them in the paper a couple of years ago.
"What I understood from the article was that Free Theater Belarus performs in homes because they had to. The government there censors the press in a very kind of Soviet, old-school Soviet kind of way. There is still a KGB in Belarus, there are still statues of Stalin when you go down the street in Minsk.
"Any kind of cultural expression is dictated by the government. One of the things that attracted me to them was that they said most political theater was really boring, (Free Theater Belarus) was just making the theater (they) want to make, and (they) were getting censored for it. They didn't consider their work to be political at that time, it only had a political consequence."
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