Skip to main content

Belarus, the disabled, the KGB and Belarus Free Theatre's Fortinbras

Belarus Free Theatre’s theatrical laboratory Fortinbras’ provocations of pop up contemporary art and theatre shone a bright light through the chinks of the armor of Belarus’ dictatorship this past December in a cold and rainy Minsk.
Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) pioneer performance inspired campaigning, now, only months after Belarus signed the UN convention to protect the human rights of those with disabilities, Fortinbras’ students yielded the fruits of their own training to mount a series of “public actions, installations and performances across Minsk asking: ‘Why don’t we see people with disabilities around us?’”
Belarus Free Theatre and Fortinbras stand with the banned and the disabled are banned in Belarus. The theatre’s modes of theatrical practices have grown, by necessity, out of the stranglehold of Alexander Lukashenko’s continuing dictatorship. The time seems right to up the ante, Lukashenko was recently returned to power in what many believe to be rigged elections in October 2015. In a city run by the KGB, the only secret service agency opting to keep its name after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, how can such performance interventions affect the citizens of this oppressed municipal? The answer is to bring the disabled and impaired out onto the streets of Minsk and invite its citizens to look at, see, acknowledge, and accommodate difference. In a country which seems to function as a satellite state, where even the mention of Lukashenko’s name in derogative terms seems sacrilege, the time is ripe for such a move as NGOs and The Office for The Rights of Persons with Disabilities watch, over the next two years, to see how the government will fulfill its obligations set out in the UN convention. It’s a country where 50 percent of its people have said they are ready to integrate those with disabilities, but where 80 percent of those who are disabled are unemployed. You might say, Belarus is in the grip of uncertainty, it stunts itself when it embraces difference with only half hearted measures, it is plagued with anxiety when these measures are tested and are found wanting, it wishes to go forward but is caught in the throes of a dictatorship which forces the country to tread water.
- See more at: http://howlround.com/pop-up-performance-in-a-dictatorship-no-problem#sthash.LlMIvqPX.dpuf

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Collabo- Hip hop with a difference

There’s a buzz in the air at Stratford Circus Arts Centre. No wonder, this is the 10th anniversary of Collabo, Tony Adigun’s annual dance celebration founded in 2006 to promote new collaborations and hip-hop hybrids from dance groups. Friday’s program of short portfolios opens with 10 (UnTitled Dance Company) choreographed by Lukas McFarlane lasting fifteen minutes (no mean feat in the hip-hop world) and featuring 10 tracks and illustrating some super synchronised steps and gyros executed with military precision. The occasional, surprising rigidness of the choreography is broken by experimentation with spoken word. Liberation (What Is Written Dance Company) has the same exactness, but their more simple choreography is easier on the eye after the mass sprawl of 10. Kweku Aacht and Guest Dancers produce an interpretation of a track performed live onstage- the sometimes rowdy crowd shouting out and encouraging the performers on hold their breath as the troupe fluctuate between free style a…

Once in a Lifetime- theatre review: slightly revised to reflect the ambiguous ending

Once in a Lifetime is a show about the tenuous and complicated relationship between creativity and destruction. Re-adapted here by Chris Hart, son of one half of the original writing duo Moss Hart and George S Kaufman, the show may well be set in 1930s Hollywood just as the talkies are about to change cinema forever, but it might also be poking fun at an art form that is a little closer to home. Director Richard Jones always takes risks with little produced, marginalised or very well known works in a bid to uncover something new that might be a comment on our own times. Here, a story about hapless Vaudeville trio act George (John Marquez), Jerry (Kevin Bishop) and May (Claudie Blakley), who set out to conquer Hollywood with their mythic elocution school, is the perfect fit for the director to explore themes that seem to obsess him: national myth, parody, the tyranny of power, willed self-destruction, bureaucracy, global fantasy, etc. So far, the show has not gone down so well with the c…

Walking the Tightrope- Theatre Delicatessen

Site-specific set? Perhaps. In the old Guardian offices in Farringdon, Offstage Theatre and Theatre Uncut curate a cycle of 12 short plays exploring the tension[s] between art and politics, reactions to the budget cuts to the arts in the UK and debate freedom of expression controversies. Corruption, class divides, perception, blood money, gesture politics and culpability, it’s all there and recent topical events are given stage time, from The Tricycle’s controversial decision to withdraw their support for the UK Jewish Film Festival to the Barbican’s cancelled Exhibit B. The plays are entertaining- Sun City by April De Angelis, Re: Exhibit by Gbolahan Obisesan, Old Newland by Julie Pascal, Tickets are on Sale Now by Caryl Churchill and Exhibit A, by Neil LaBute, all deserve special mention for looking beyond the parameters of funding and freedom of expression in the UK arts- by which of course, I mean a theatrical London still surfing the very last trickling waves of Colonialism and it…