Are you feeling uncomfortable? Good!

Our co-editor Natasha Hyman talks to Natalia Kaliada, co-founder of Belarus Free Theatre, an underground theatre group who are levitra professional cheapest gaining international repute for their visceral political performances.



Belarus is in Europe. It is also a dictatorship. It is a country where people are detained without evidence and capital punishment still exists. Freedom of speech is severely

limited, forcing theatre companies to function underground. On top of this, it is economic crime to charge audience members, making it near impossible for companies to survive.

Natalia Kaliada and her husband Nicolai Khalezin set up Belarus Free Theatre in 2005, and Vladimir Shcherban soon joined them. They

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are now touring the world with their brand of generic cialis in germany drug store potent political drama, and have been dubbed by the New York Times as ‘one of the most powerful underground companies on the planet’.

They have since performed in over 42 countries, with their current production, Trash Cuisine, currently touring the UK, including a stint at the Pleasance Courtyard during the Edinburgh Fringe. They are also returning to the Globe for a week in September with their acclaimed version of King Lear.

The structure of their work is what Natalia refers to as a ‘two-headed beast’- with a company and theatre school in Belarus, and another part of the company based in London. Natalia and Nicolai set up the London branch after they sought political asylum in the UK in 2011. The main body of their work is still undertaken in Belarus.

When I meet with Natalia at the Young Vic it is immediately clear that she is grounded in her aims for the company. I was expecting this, as after seeing Minsk 2011 last year, I was struck by how unusual this company is in the sheer force of their message. They are also evidently unafraid of exploring the many facets of the issues they choose to tackle.

I ask Natalia about what theatre-makers face in Belarus, and she explains that there are 27 state-owned theatres for a population of 10 million. (There are more than 230 theatres in London alone). On top of this, there are extremely restrictive censorship rules. She gives an example of how one of Nicolai Khalezin’s plays was banned, simply because he is associated with BFT. This was despite the fact that the play was not overtly political in its subject, telling the story of one man’s mid-life crisis.


These conditions länger mit viagra also present obstacles for actors. Since the company’s inception, nearly all their original actors have stayed on. Natalia explains that not many of them would have described themselves as professional actors, and they have all either lost their jobs or find themselves unable to gain employment if their association with BFT is made known.

It becomes pharmacy support group clear to me just how much personal investment has gone into Belarus Free Theatre. They didn’t receive funding to take their new show Trash Cuisine to Edinburgh, however the actors insisted they would still participate without being paid. Natalia says that this level of commitment is because of their collective belief in the importance of the issues they communicate.

The company’s absolute commitment to their work is solidified by their use of real stories- by a process they term ‘Total Immersion’. If the actors are not presenting their own personal stories, then they are required to go what happens if a woman takes viagra out and meet people, listen to their stories first hand, and present them. These testimonies are most often communicated verbatim in performance.

Natalia explains how the company travelled all over the world to research capital punishment- the theme of Trash Cuisine. They met with executioners, lawyers, detainees, and relatives- in cases where the person whose story they were telling was no longer alive. Natalia describes how this process is ‘the only possible way for us to create.’

When deciding on the subject of their shows, Natalia, Nicolai and Vladimir find an issue which concerns them, and then go to their actors to see if they also agree that this is a topic that needs to be

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discussed. They deliberately choose complex issues, Natalia emphasising that ‘if we know how to do it, we never do it.’

They have been working on Trash Cuisine for three years. The original stimulus for the work was that ‘everyone was saying there is no death penalty in Europe. Firstly, there is- in Belarus. Secondly, this means Belarus is not considered as part of Europe, which adds another dimension to the issue.’

The audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive for BFT. They have drummed up a wealth of support, including Vivienne Westwood, Tom Stoppard and Michael Attenborough. Natalia is hugely appreciative of this strong relationship with London audiences.


Yet she stills sees potential for the show to go in new directions- ‘We think people are going to react in a certain way, but the audience leads you

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further than you expect. You can’t predict their reactions- this is the intellectual and emotional contact between audience and actors.’

BFT certainly manage to completely engage their audience. In Trash Cuisine they use techniques that deliberately unsettle; they directly address us in game-show style, then shifting to full frontal nudity in the same breath. This splicing of tones creates a collage


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sensory experiences, and the wealth of diverse responses that they present creates a rich forum for discussion.

Belarus Free Theatre is foremost active ingredient in viagra a political tool, and I was interested to know, why theatre? Natalia responds ‘We had tried everything else. We wanted to say what we wanted, wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted’, and it was theatre that allowed them this freedom of expression.

Natalia also stresses the importance of creating art that is both political, but also theatrically impressive. It is crucial for her that their work is of ‘the highest artistic quality. This gives us the right to talk to our audience on every other issue. It must be art.’

Politics and art do come into conflict; Natalia tells me about the viagra vs eriacta painful difficulties of leaving aside personal experiences when it comes to the creative process. The entire collection of stories came to sildenafil citrate 100mg around six hours; the final show is an hour and a half. She says ‘I don’t want to scare people off, but an hour and half… it’s a tough experience.’

What strikes me the most about BFT is how their conception of theatre making free samples of viagra goes hand-in-hand buy cialis with their sense of human responsibility, Natalia stating that ‘it’s unbelievably complicated to listen to what people are going through. We know our aim is

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to do great theatre, but then you sit there and think, what else could we do?’ This emotional commitment to their work is what makes BFT vital to both the theatre, and to Belarus.

BFT (c) Michiel van Nieuwkerk - web

The future of BFT is uncertain. Natalia stresses that ‘financial pressure is the biggest challenge now’. However, more recently it has been made apparent that it is becoming impossible to work in Belarus, and the company may need to make a permanent move in order to continue. Natalia also says that working in a free country adds a new dimension to their work, as it gives them the liberty to ‘enjoy the process of creating’.


Ultimately, the future of the company is a much larger issue. Natalia explains that ‘it’s up to the EU to solve the issue of BFT at a global level.’ They want European viagra generic Institutions to recognise that BFT is unique- not project based, but ‘an lisinopril no prescription canada absolutely unique institution’ where students are training every single day.

Certainly, BFT’s case is unusual. Natalia proudly tells me that ‘No such theatre company exists that rehearses underground then performs at the Globe and the Young Vic’. They have demonstrated how theatre cialis generic india can and should be a powerful political tool. I look forward to the future of BFT and to the impact they will undoubtedly

have on how theatre is made.