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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…

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Белорусский Свободный театр / The Telegraph / review

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Minsk 2011, Belarus Free Theatre, Young Vic, review

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The Belarus Free Theatre paint a bleak picture of their increasingly repressive and violent homeland in Minsk 2011.

Imagine a European country where people are now so mistrustful of each other that no one dares to meet a stranger’s gaze for even a few seconds, where an ambulance might well contain thugs in medical uniform, administering beatings or even death, and where gatherings of more than three are prohibited.

No need to make much mental effort. Using basic props, and relying on scant, hand-to-mouth resources, the Belarus Free Theatre are here to tell us how things are in their homeland, where, under the dictatorial shadow of President Lukashenko, conditions for citizens have taken a turn for the kind of dark, Kafka-esque surrealism that so often flourishes under brutal regimes.

First seen here last year at the Edinburgh Fringe, now rightly given a platform in London, Minsk 2011 begins with a series of thwarted individual attempts at simple self-expression. One by one, four actors from the nine-strong ensemble edge towards and then back away from a microphone and instead begin an innocuous activity – one unfurls the old white-red-white Belarusian flag, another attempts to play a flute, a third tries to clap, a fourth just looks at his watch. In each case, this “subversive element” is bundled helplessly away by sour-faced heavies, before a couple of impassive charladies trace a cleansing circle over the stage with brooms. It’s obvious what’s being said and yet no overt “statement” is made. Adaptor/director Vladimir Shcherban hereby establishes a mood of bleakly amusing playfulness and unpredictability into which disparate material is then introduced. Like the show’s subtitle – “A Reply to Kathy Acker” – an obscure reference to the American performance artist’s short-story “New York City in 1979” – some of this material is too elliptical for its own good.

The sight of a naked actress being daubed in black ink, then wrapped from head to toe in rolls of blank paper is arresting but does little more than further scatter thoughts about how sexual exploitation is rife in a climate where desire has been driven underground. Although the company’s physical and visual prowess is admirable the evening is at its most affecting when it simply lets us hear at the end from the brave actors themselves, sitting all in a row and facing either the disorientation of exile here or the threat of persecution if they return home – a ghastly limbo that those with power in the EU could easily alleviate if they only showed a modicum of like-minded will and resolve.

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph, 18 June 2012

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Czas Kobiet / Teatr Polski / Налет

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Вернулся из Варшавы. Экстренно вылетел туда в пятницу, сразу после того, как узнал, что артистический директор Teatra Polskiego Ярослав Гаевский удалил из моего спектакля финальную сцену. Эта сцена была на протяжении всего репетиционного периода камнем преткновения, "местом боли", вызовом и провокацией. Собственно, она и стала детонатором, который сегодня может стереть спектакль "Czas Kobiet" с театральной афиши Варшавы.

По идее спектакля, вся драматургическая канва "Czasa Kobiet", основанная на реальных историях белорусских женщин, чьи мужья, отцы, братья оказались убитыми или брошенными в тюрьмы, в итоге сводилась к простой формуле -- в этих событиях доминирует не политика, но суть -- человеческая трагедия. Трагедия потери, унижения, отчаяния... Схожие истории были найдены в личной жизни актрис, играющих героинь спектакля. Эти истории выслушивались, тщательно отбирались, шлифовались. В финале спектакля актеры, в абсолютно бытовой среде, бытово, без пафоса, немногословно и тихо рассказывали свои истории. О том, как человек не попрощался с тестем за несколько часов до его смерти; как актрисе пришлось репетировать пьесу в день смерти отца; как смерти близких преследовали девушку, а затем и жених бросил ее за три недели до намеченной свадьбы; как ушел муж, став "викингом", бороздящим на лодке польские озера, и бросивший жену и двоих детей... Эти истории перекликались с историями героев спектакля, и приводили все высказанное за два с половиной часа к общему знаменателю -- к простым человеческим трагедиям, проживаемым нами в разных странах, культурах, на разных континентах. И не суть важно, как произошла трагедия -- важно, что переживает ее жертва.

Эта финальная сцена вызвала яростный протест артистического директора театра Гаевского, который заявил мне, что актер не может говорить от своего лица. А если и может, то только "словами Шекспира или Чехова". Мимо "артистического директора" прошла вся история постдраматического театра, все театральные инновации последних двух, а то и трех десятилетий. В итоге, он взял подневольных артистов в заложники, "настоятельно порекомендовав" убрать сцену из спектакля. И что особо поражает -- не сообщив об этом мне, режиссеру спектакля. Не знаю, на что рассчитывал Гаевский, живя в стране Евросоюза, и отчетливо понимающий, что вошел в поле чужой интеллектуальной собственности, которая с остервенением охраняется целым пакетом международных нормативных актов.

Я взял билет на самолет и вылетел в Варшаву, чтобы увидеть, что происходит со спектаклем. Вошел в зал спустя 10 минут после начала спектакля, чтобы актерам не сообщили о том, что я нахожусь в зале. Оказалось -- ничего хорошего не происходит. Структура оказалась сломанной, а актеры "потеряли нюх" -- сразу полезли формальные места, традиционные для "императорских театров". Спектакль потерял ту подробность, которая в нем была, вытянув из исполнителей фальшивые нотки и "актерское" интонирование, которое удалось уничтожить во время репетиционного периода.

Итог этой истории следующий. Спектакль мной заблокирован до принятия решения руководством Teatra Polskiego. Мои требования -- принесение извинений теми, кто имел отношение к нарушению авторских прав, возвращение финальной сцены в спектакль, назначение восстановительного периода в осенний период. Если же этого не произойдет, спектакль прекратит свое существование, а прокат будет ограничен прошедшими шестью показами. Я оставил за собой право откровенного разговора с ведущими польскими изданиями -- "Gazeta Wyborcza" и "Rzeczpospolita", которые ждут от меня согласия на разговор, а я, в свою очередь, жду ответа руководства театра. Все решения будут приняты еще в этом месяце, а на будущие месяцы я оставлю судебное разбирательства, если мы не придем к консенсусу с театром.

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kilgor_trautt

Белорусский Свободный театр / Evening Standard / review

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Minsk 2011: A reply to Kathy Acker, Young Vic - review

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Forced underground by the repressive regime of Alexander Lukashenko this noble organisation has brought with it a startling snapshots from one of Europe’s least well-known capitals

There’s an old, favourite game to play when leafing through British theatre programmes: how many of the cast have been in The Bill? In the case of Belarus Free Theatre, however, the search takes on a grim tone: “He was detained for his professional activities” is the line to look for now. This noble organisation, founded in 2005, has been forced underground by the repressive regime of Alexander Lukashenko, with its members regularly persecuted, imprisoned and harried into exile.

The fact that they have made it to the Young Vic as part of this year’s LIFT is thus a huge reason to cheer. Yet they bring with them startling snapshots from one of Europe’s least well-known capitals, a place they continue to cherish despite everything. The play’s subtitle, A Reply to Kathy Acker, acknowledges their debt to the American writer who examined New York society via sexual identity, an investigation BFT under adaptor/director Vladimir Shcherban attempts to carry out on their homeland.

In a repressive state — all gay clubs in Minsk have been closed down — everything is driven underground. In hidden places, things erupt in bursts of creativity or violence. The nine-strong cast conjures up the throbbing atmosphere of an illicit club, a workers’ canteen by day, where sex of all kinds is on offer. This highly-policed regime is also not above a healthy trade in “erotic” dancing.

There’s a sense of pulsing frustration from the talented cast but the most poignant section comes last, when the actors offer simple first-person confessions. It’s glory at the Young Vic in June, but what awaits them in Minsk in July?

Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard, 18 June 2012

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Белорусский Свободный театр / The New York Times / review

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London Theater Journal: Imagination From Despair in Edinburgh and Minsk

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Mind you [...] the ensemble of “Minsk, 2011,” the sustained cri de coeur from the Belarus Free Theater, which is legally banned from performing in its native country. (It opened, with a salvo of offstage drama, at the Young Vic Theater last week.)

The breast-beating and complaining of the characters [...] would be a luxury for those in “Minsk, 2011. A Reply to Kathy Acker.” The latest offering from this astonishing underground troupe begins with individual performers walking up to a microphone center stage. They pause, hesitate, start to unfold a flag or merely look at their watches. Then, before they can utter a word, they are dragged out of sight by a troop of stocking-capped men.

The scene provides a raw, potent metaphor for the lot of the Belarus Free Theater, which can perform in its own country only surreptitiously. (In place of the usual production credits, the program cast and crew biographies list incidents of arrest, imprisonment and blackballing.) Conceived as a response to “New York in 1979,” an erotic anatomy of the city by Ms. Acker, this production presents Minsk as a place where sex is a thwarted, warping force.

“To be sexual in Minsk does not mean to want to have sex,” says one young woman. And the encounters presented here – between a prostitute and a john, a group of topless dancers and a government official, anxious patrons in a secret gay club, an aspiring stripper and two men she meets on the Internet – usually stop short of consummation. The sounds of orgasm are delivered by two disengaged performers who never touch; a young woman stands and vibrates mechanically and autonomously, limb by limb.

As usual with this company, whose brilliant “Being Harold Pinter” was staged in New York two years ago, much of what we see are visceral theatrical interpretations of real events, which include arrests, interrogations and the bombing of a subway station. There are first-person testimonials, and encyclopedia-style accounts of geographical and economic statistics and of history past and present.

Elementary props are put to highly sophisticated use. They include balloons, a red carpet, three sacks of sugar and long-handled brooms to clean away messy signs of life and death. There is a stunning coup de theatre, in which a naked woman is covered in ink and pressed onto a roll of brown paper, which is then fashioned into a cocoon from which she vengefully emerges with a whip. In one sequence, women who have been charged with prostitution are set the surreal, fairy-tale-like task of sweeping up snow.

There are sad and lovely images of snow as a transforming, even revolutionary element, which turns a gray city into a virgin canvas. One man speaks rapturously of the most beautiful graffiti he ever saw in Minsk, the single word “snow” on a wall. Snow melts, of course, just as graffiti is soon painted over.

The final scene of the production, directed by Vladimir Shcherban, allows the performers to describe their feelings about Minsk. To call them ambivalent is an understatement. Minsk is evoked both as a black hole that sucks out creative life and as the only place these people feel they belong.

After the curtain calls, as the artistic director Natalia Kaliada was beginning a speech, a rumpled, middle-aged man stood up in the aisle. “I am Belarus,” he said. “These people are not Belarus.” A few audience members booed,while several cast members applauded. Ms. Kaliada felt obliged to note that this was not a part of the play.

Except that it was, in a way – a testimony to a now rare breed of provocative political theater, wherein art and reality are so uncomfortably close that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between them.

Ben Brantley, The New York Times, 18 June 2012

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