Zone of Silence
modern Belarusian epos in three chapters
Belarus Free Theatre
Director Vladimir Shcherban
Concept IChapter I – Childhood Legends Natalia Koliada,
Nikolai Khalezin and Vladimir Shcherban
Chapter II Diverse and Chapter III Numbers
Dramatist Konstantin Steshik
Authors/actors Pavel Gorodnitski, Yana Rusakevich, Oleg Sidorchik, Anna Solomianskaya, Denis Tarasenko and Marina Yurevich
Producers Natalia Koliada, Nikolai Khalezin
Assistant managers Irene Iarochevitch, Maryia Vavokhina, Svetlana Sugako and Alexei Shyrnevich
Performed in Russian and Belarusian with italian subtitles
Running time 2h 30'
Chapter 1. Childhood Legends
The actors tell their own stories from their childhood: humiliation in the kindergarten, an attempted suicide because of unhappy love, a relationship with a father who was twice imprisoned, meeting mother in hospital for the last time... Each deeply sincere story tries to find the answer to the question of how the scars of childhood influence our lives. The production ends with the story of a Belarusian ten-year-old, Vika Moroz, who has become a hostage of the present Belarusian political system and is separated from the Italian family whom she considers as her parents.
Chapter 2. Diverse
The actors spent long hours talking to extraordinary Belarusians, collecting information about their fates, their characters, their personal joys and tragedies. This is a panorama of the “other” people, who experience the pressures of unmotivated social aggression: a black Belarusian gay; a lonely woman who fell in love with Lenin; a homeless person whose greatest passion is dancing… What led them to find themselves on the fringes of society? Why have they become “diverse”?
Chapter 3. Numbers
The actors attempt to comprehend the dry numbers of Belarusian statistics through non-verbal contact with the audience. Why does Belarus hold first place in Europe for the number of its suicides? How many new-born babies are left in maternity homes because their parents feel unable to feed them? How many Belarusians are unemployed and what is the number of those below the poverty line?
The high level of sincerity of Zone of Silence and its serious attempt at generalization invite the audience to meditate on the taboo zones in their own country, and provoke reflection about the nature of taboo and our response to emotional truth.
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.