Being Harold Pinter
Belarus Free Theatre
Adapted and Directed by Vladimir Shcherban
The performance based on plays of Harold Pinter:
Mountain Language, One For The Road, The Homecoming, Old Times, Ashes to Ashes, The New World Order
It also includes:
The Nobel Speech of Harold Pinter,
Letters of Belarusian political prisoners
Actors Nikolai Khalezin, Pavel Gorodnitski, Yana Rusakevich, Oleg Sidorchik, Anna Solomianskaya, Denis Tarasenko, Marina Yurevich
Producers Natalia Koliada, Nikolai Khalezin
Assistant managers Irina Yaroshevich, Maryia Vavokhina, Svetlana Sugako and Alexei Shyrnevich
Performed in Russian and Belarusian with italian subtitles
Running time 1 hour 15'
How is a play born? What is the difference between truth in life and truth in art? Should an artist be involved with politics? These are the questions Harold Pinter raises in his Nobel speech. The play Being Harold Pinter by Free Theater begins and ends with a search for the answers to these questions. The plot lines which make the basis of the performance are united by the same problem – the problem of violence in its absolutely different manifestations, beginning with violence in the family (The Homecoming, Ashes to Ashes), through violence as a foundation of a social institution (The New World Order, One For The Road) and finally to violence as a form of international relationship (Mountain Language).
One plot follows another, abstract characters are gradually substituted by the real ones, close and recognizable, and a reflection concerning the events which took place in Abu-Ghraib is followed by documentary monologues of political captives from Belarusian prisons.
“When we look at ourselves in a mirror, it seems that the image which appears in front of us is true. But it is enough to move just an inch to the side and the image will change. Actually we are looking at an endless line of images. But sometimes an artist must break the mirror, and from behind this mirror there is truth looking straight at us. I suppose that despite of enormous difficulties, we – the citizens – must show tenaciousness and determination to discover the real truth about our life and our society. Otherwise there is no hope for re-establishment of what we have almost already lost –human dignity”.
(Harold Pinter, The Nobel speech)
Belarus Free Theatre
Belarus Free Theatre was founded in March 2005 by Belarusian playwright and journalist Nikolai Khalezin and theatre producer Natalia Koliada. In May, 2005 the team was joined by stage director Vladimir Scherban, who has produced the majority of Free Theatre performances. Currently the theatre’s staff consists of ten professional actors, one professional dramatist, four managers and two technical assistants.
Under the current political system the Free Theatre has no official registration, no premises, nor any other facilities. Rehearsals and performances (always free of charge for the public) are normally held secretly in small private apartments which, due to security and the risk of persecution, must constantly be changed.
On several occasions, performances were given in street cafes and in the countryside, in the woods. Staff members have been repeatedly harassed by the authorities for their participation in the activities of the theatre. Thus, the stage director and all but one actress were sacked from their jobs at state-run theatres. Since May 2005 the Free Theatre has produced eleven performances based on seventeen plays. During its first two years of existence, about 5,000 people attended performances in Belarus and more than 4,000 abroad.
During the last four years the troupe has performed in 16 countries of the world: Australia, Ireland, The Netherlands, Greece, UK, USA, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, France, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia. Their first touring performance took place on the stage of the New Riga Theatre of Alvis Hermanis in November, 2005.
The theatre is supported by outstanding figures of the international theatre movement and respected public figures such as Vaclav Havel, Mick Jagger, Arthur Kopit, Harold Pinter, Mark Ravenhill, Tom Stoppard and Ariane Mnouchkine. In April 2007, Free Theatre became a full member of the European Theatre Convention (ETC), a member of the international network Informal European Theatre Meeting (IETM), and in May 2007 a member of the international network, Trans European Halls (THE). In December 2007, Free Theatre received the French Republic Human Rights Prize. It was the first time in the history of the Prize that it was given to a cultural institution.
In April 2008 Belarus Free Theatre performed three of its productions (“Generation Jeans”, “Being Harold Pinter” and “Zone of Silence”) in Thessaloniki, Greece, for the ceremony for the Europe Theatre Prize (Premio Europa). The theatre was awarded with the most prestigious the Europe Theatre Prize “Europe to Theatre”. Belarusian troupe received a special recognition of the jury “Theatre institution/Special mention” after had been nominated for it by the world’s famous dramatists Nobel Prize Laureate Harold Pinter, Sir Tom Stoppard and ex-President of Czech Republic Vaclav Havel.
On November 26, 2008 Freedom to Create Awards ceremony, established by philanthropic organization At Venture and international human rights organization Article XIX, took place at Swiss Re building in London. The second prize went to Belarus Free Theatre. Four performances of the troupe (“Zone of Silence”, “Being Harold Pinter”, “Generation Jeans” and “Discover Love”) were mentioned in the motivational part of the prize.