Молодожены, Райан и Фрэнки Ван Хорн, не имеющие до этого танцевальной практики, решили, что вальс для них слишком неэмоционален. Два месяца тренировок, и свадебный танец стал незабываемой частью истории новой семьи.
Австралийские хроники. Part I. Позвоните родителям Австралийские хроники. Part II. Shark attack Австралийские хроники. Part III. Театр Австралийские хроники. Part IV. Sydney Festival 2009 Австралийские хроники. Part V. Две святыни Сиднея Австралийские хроники. Part VI. День Австралии…
Minsk, 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker – Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol
To a lot of people, Minsk is where Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend goes off to work in an early series of Friends. The more politically aware may know more. As a collective, the audience at the Tobacco Factory Theatre are given the inside look. A scars ‘n’ all tour of the highs and lows of the Belarus capital and what life is like on the inside.
Belarus Free Theatre wants us to believe that Minsk is sexy. They are asking us to listen, watch, learn and dig deep. Dig beneath the ugly grey buildings, the nasty grey weather and the oppression that is slowly strangling the city.
Our first introduction to the cast sets the goal posts for the extremes we will experience. Each one has something to offer, from waving a flag, playing the flute or just clapping their hands. In time they each get carted off in a violent struggle. Even the discreet and the sly get taken in the end. There is no escape.
Belarus Free Theatre are physical both in body and voice. They fill the theatre with their cries, their songs and their stories. Each one has a story to tell and each story has a sting in its tail. The official stamp of approval over what is erotic. The thinly veiled propaganda of City Day. The terrorist attack on the newly built railway station. Each chapter gives the audience an insight into another grim reality.
Another consequence of oppression is lack of education. Not just the school based kind – the fancy library is a haven for ‘housing sinners’ – but a general knowledge that we so often take for granted. Not knowing who Paul McCartney is in a lineup of the Beatles stands tall with the most horrific of stories. Herein lies the problem. We are the lucky ones. We know this and we are told early on. It’s screamed at us from all corners of the theatre. The revelation however is the light to balance their shade. The true beauty, the real power of this piece comes at the end and there are no gimmicks, no tricks in sight. Just love. Plain and simple and truly heart felt.
Belarus Free Theatre has created a piece that is not quite verbatim and more engaging than just purely being educational. What you learn about them as individuals, who they are and what they do is the true discovery. They are passionate. They are human. They deserve to be celebrated.
Shane Morgan, The Public Reviews, 26 May 2012
Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker
Pay no attention to the stars above. This review could just as well have carried a zero stars rating: such is the necessity of Belarus Free Theatre that a rating system of any type is rendered unnecessary. This company are not seeking critical acclaim: they want the basic freedoms we take and have taken for granted all of our lives. For those that don’t already know, BFT are a Belarusian theatre company whose work is banned in their home country. The company has been subjected to serial arrests, abuse and intimidation. Some are unable even to return home and are severed indefinitely from their loved ones. The rest can only guess what fate awaits them on their return. This is real, and as such demands a wholly different process of engagement, from say, The Lion King.
Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker is a portrait of a city that is sick, with “bad teeth and a tiny pension,” its inhabitants humiliated and humiliating one another. The show’s stated intention, to explore unbridled sexuality – freedom, perhaps, in its purest sense – in underground Minsk is consistently derailed by the perennial interventions of the state. As their lives are infected by malevolent forces, so necessarily is their art. They cannot ignore it, and they cannot accept it and they’re determined that neither should we.
A catalogue of intimidation follows, painting Minsk as a caged animal driven to despair. There are brief moments of relief/release: a sequence in an underground semi-legal club where for a few hours only, people can be who they want. A possessed MC orates without pause, over a relentless beat, of the scenes of degradation, fucking and vomiting “and nobody gives a fuck.” It’s clear that the few opportunities people have to be free are taken violently, desperately, consentingly.
This is less theatre than performance art. The theatrical comfort blankets of character, narrative and invention are removed from the audience, replaced by a stark, simple approach to image making and direct engagement. They use their own names. They talk to us. They do not all possess the silky skills of drama graduates – they’re not pretending to be real. They are real. And it’s not that they have an unsophisticated approach – it’s simply that a) they’re dispossessed and haven’t got any money and b) there is no nuance to the oppression they face. This is not political theatre. It’s simply political.
The final episode is almost unbearable. The company line the front of the stage and tell us simply and honestly what they expect when they get back to the city that, in spite of everything, they love. All have lost their jobs – many will be arrested. One man, exiled, separated from his wife, speaks of his own virtual Minsk that he enters online, broken only by trips to Tesco from his London residence. Star ratings, in this context, border on the offensive. And it’s a rare occasion that the phrase “must see” can be applied with any justification. More accurately, you have a duty to see this show. It is necessary that you do. It is the very very least you can do.
Tom Wainwright, Exeunt, 21 - 26 May 2012
Belarus Free Theatre. King Lear – review
A gaunt and arthritic king totters on stage, his head a thatch of matted white hair – then, grinning, he springs up like a jack-in-the-box and whisks off the wig. This is, we gather, one of Lear's dangerous little jokes: one of many in a production that teases constantly at our expectations. Instead of treating the play as it's so often done in Britain, as Shakespeare's attempt at a PhD in epistemology, Vladimir Shcherban and a young, energetic Belarus Free Theatre company offer instead a Lear returned vividly to its roots: as a comic folktale that shatters into tragedy.
Central in every sense is Aleh Sidorchik's wolfish King, given to wandering around grandly with one fist in a glittering iron gauntlet, but who you suspect is running a petrol scam on the side. It's an extraordinary performance, physically charged yet off-centredly charming, and a believable portrait of a man who collapses because he fails to connect with his family. The company inventively use sound and the simplest of props to underscore the point: what begins as a mocking on-stage susurration, Lear's daughters whispering in his ears, ends in a storm scene powered by the roaring of a cheap plastic blue tarpaulin, shaken into an improvised sea by the cast – at first an obstacle that the King must overcome, then his bivouac on the heath. Equally well-judged are Yana Rusakevich's Goneril and Maryna Yurevich's Regan: harridans neither, but long-suffering children pushed to the limit. Hanna Slatvinskaya's worldly-wise Cordelia is driven even further, to the bottle – a plausible hint that her shotgun marriage to the opportunistic King of France (Aliaksei Naranovich) was never likely to bring much happiness.
Sometimes the jokey, improvisational tone goes awry: presenting the daughters' battle for affection as a rival striptease like something from a Belarusian lapdancing club was one idea that could safely have stayed in rehearsals, and I tired of the on-stage, off-tune piano, which ends up being tinkled by nearly everyone, apparently on the basis that it's there to be used. But again and again BFT find images that pierce the play to the quick, and which draw out an often-buried theme, its battle between the generations: Siarhei Kvachonak's posh-student Edgar, puffing distractedly on a spliff, can no more understand Pavel Garadnitski's testy, incontinent Gloucester than Lear can communicate with his daughters. And as Edmund, Aliaksei Naranovich is for once not a snarling villain, but a practical man making the best from unfair circumstances.
Only the conclusion, oddly, wobbled: staging Cordelia's hanging upfront, downstage and surrounded by audience members, reduces the impact of this most brutal and shocking of acts, and makes a nonsense of Lear's entrance with her body, where Shakespeare carefully strains the suspense about whether she's really dead past breaking point. And Sidorchik's decision to whisper the final scene meant that its impact disappears beneath the noise of nighttime Southwark (even for those, like me, who don't understand Belarusian). I felt the loss – particularly when the play's ideas had been articulated with such blade-like sharpness.
Andrew Dickson, The Guardian, 23 May 2012