Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

We all must applaud this patriotic polemic

Belarus. A country where it’s forbidden to look a stranger in the eye. Where raising a flag can incur a beating from the police. Where just existing can somehow be a crime.

A place of wounded people, where scars are seen as sexy. This is Minsk — the sexiest city in the world.

Here’s a rare opportunity to see the city through the eyes of |Belarus Free Theatre.

Their endeavours have not gone unrewarded at home — many members of the company have lost their jobs, been forced into hiding, spent time in prison or even been exiled.

But the show must go on and BFT continues to develop its award-winning work with the support of artists around the world.

It’s courageous of the company — many face punishment if they return home, or exile in Europe if they cannot. But they’re determined to lift the curtain on a place where prostitution is considered a cultural event and twisted sexuality is the daily norm.

Minsk 2011 tells of the strip clubs, illicit raves and gay parades which flourish under the surface of the city. In Vladimir Shcherban’s adaptation, which he also directs, the brutal regime which stamps on self-expression is portrayed in a series of scenes as diverse as a man unfurling a flag, a naked actress being wrapped up in paper like a parcel,

and a man being arrested for |applauding.

The company, which must perform in secret at home, delivers this love letter to their country, Europe’s last dictatorship. They remind us about what we prefer to ignore and show how the people who have been silenced still have plenty to say.

And as soon as they’ve said it, all signs of their rebellion are swept away. Yet still they mourn for the place they call home.

The bravery of the cast and the honesty of the show have garnered the company praise across Europe. Now it’s Belfast’s turn to show solidarity with the citizens of Belarus, when the show opens at the Lyric Theatre this evening — and when the actors take their bows, we should applaud their |bravery.

Which is more than they can do.

Minsk 2011, Lyric Studio, today until Saturday, November 3

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News

Horoscopes

Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant

Leo:

Trust your intuition about a domestic matter. If you think it's time to get a new place, start looking for one. You could find a home that cultivates tranquillity and relaxation. Escaping the fray will be a relief. Although you enjoy socialising, you also crave private time. Being able to watch movies, read books and listen to music replenishes your batteries. A needy relative could request help. This would be a good time to establish some healthy boundaries. Stop dropping everything for this relative's benefit.More