On 2 – 3rd July ArtReach hosted theatre workshop sessions with Belarus Free Theatre, as part of Journeys Festival International. 30 theatre practitioners were invited to join us for a weekend at Phoenix, Leicester, with 10 people from each Journeys Festival International 2016 location – Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth.
As the foremost refugee-led theatre company in the UK, Belarus Free Theatre continually campaigns for artistic freedom and human rights across the globe, utilising theatre as a revolutionary art. Co-artistic directors Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada were forced to leave Belarus due to political persecution and now have asylum in the UK. The pair led the workshop sessions that focused on the methodology and practice of Belarus Free Theatre, exemplifying the creative process they use to explore key political issues.
A key theme for exploration was:
“Future thinking. What are the problems of tomorrow theatre can help to address today?”
It was an inspiring weekend that enabled the practitioners to delve into their personal experiences of oppression and to consider theatre to articulate the resulting thoughts and feelings. One practitioner said the weekend helped them to gain “a deep understanding of what is personal in politics and what is political in the personal.” Nicolai and Natalia’s input contributed to participant development that will have an outcome in the creation of some new pop-up theatre performances, on the themes of oppression and the refugee and asylum seeker experience. These performances will be presented as part of Journeys Festival International across the three city locations.
Journeys Festival International will also present Belarus Free Theatre’s blazingly contemporary production Burning Doors that premieres at Curve, Leicester (23 – 27 August). Created in collaboration with Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina, the production focuses on the real stories of persecuted artists living under dictatorship, who will not be silenced. The production will continue to other Journeys Festival International locations, and will also be seen in London and Melbourne, Australia.
To purchase Burning Doors tickets please follow the links below for the corresponding city:
Leicester, 23 - 27 August
Manchester, 10 - 12 October
Portsmouth, 14 October