Telling stories with imagination.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Metta likes...Belarus Free Theatre

Through our dear friend, and patron of Metta, Laura Wade we've recently been introduced to the Belarus Free Theatre, or BFT. Having been on some of their marches/protests it was really lovely to put names to faces. And having now got to know them quite well it's lovely to put personalities to the names. The work that the BFT does is astonishing on so many levels - the art they make is beautiful and powerful, the workshops they lead inspiring and totally transformative for the participants, and everything they do is some form of protest against Lukashenko's regime - the last dictatorship in Europe. On top of this they are forced - as a theatre company in exile from their own country - to work from Britain on the tiniest of shoe-string budgets. Last year they had a smash hit in Edinburgh with their Fringe First award-winning show A Reply to Kathy Acker which will run at the Young Vic for a month in June next year, and before that they're doing an adaptation in Belorussian of King Lear at the Globe for their Globe to Globe Festival.
And that's just their UK projects - they also continue to run workshops and create other projects literally all over the world, while those of them still allowed in the country are still working underground, in secret locations, back in Belarus.

Belarus Free Theatre from william reynolds on Vimeo.

Amazing as the company and the work of the company is though, it's the three people who run it I particularly want to salute. Yuri is constantly upbeat and positive, and also miraculously manages to find the spare time to make miraculous miniature models of fantastical castles and carriages - being an unabashed lover of romance and fairy-tale. Nokolai (Kolya) is an exceptional photographer and over dinner with them the other night he spent the whole time snapping away capturing some really delightful moments. And Natasha is tirelessly flying from one country to another to raise awareness of the plight of her fellow Belorussians, whilst also being a great mother to her and Kolya's two children. The work the company does is incredible, but for me it's the brilliance, generosity and tireless energy of Yuri, Kolya and Natasha that is so awe-inspiring.

For the first time ever - and about time too - they're finally asking for a bit of financial support and have launched a crowd-funding campaign through Sponsume to raise much needed funds, partly to help pay a UK based general manager/fund-raiser type person (none other than our great friend Emily Dobbs of Jagged Fence fame) to try and sort them out financially and get them some proper core funding. When we experimented with crowd-funding last year it was a long hard slog to try and raise 2k. They're aiming for 9k and amazingly had already raised 3k in the first five days of the campaign. As I type they're now on 82% of their total (£7,400) with only just over a week left to go. If you can support them, even with as little as a tenner, it will be the best tenner you've spent this year. Go to for more information and to donate.

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