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Belarus Free Theatre Returns with Three Shows in Repertory

La MaMa and The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, Interim Executive Director Joey Parnes) proudly announce the return of the acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre whose productions of BEING Harold Pinter and ZONE OF SILENCE were sold-out hits at this year's Under The Radar Festival. For five weeks only, Belarus Free Theatre returns to La MaMa with repertory performances of BEING Harold Pinter, ZONE OF SILENCE, and the New York premiere of DISCOVER LOVE. Performances begin Wednesday, April 13 and run through Sunday, May 15 at La MaMa (66 East 4th Street) with an official opening on Monday, April 18. Single tickets are $35 for each show and go on sale beginning March 16; Public Theater member tickets are available now at 212-475-7710 or www.lamama.org.

New Yorkers have another chance to see this moving and powerful company that Ben Brantley of The New York Times called "truly passionate, truly political theater...Being Harold Pinter isn't just admirable, it has virtues beyond its relevance and bravery." The troupe barely escaped imprisonment in December and had to sneak out of the country to come to New York to perform at The Public's Under The Radar Festival. For the past several months they have been performing in the United States, most recently in Chicago, because they are unable to return to their homeland for fear of persecution.

"The Belarus Free Theatre proves the power of art. Theatre is not created in a vacuum and today's headlines remind us of the importance of collective voices and how they can shape our lives," said Mia Yoo, Artistic Director of La MaMa. "It's a privilege to be part of the world theatre community helping this daring company tell their story. La MaMa is proud to be partnering with The Public to provide an Artistic Residency for the Belarus Free Theatre in New York City. "

"The Belarus Free Theatre is an extraordinary company, both for the exemplary moral position they are taking for the freedom of the country and for the beauty and power of their art," said Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "In supporting them, we are honoring the greatest traditions of The Public Theater."

Adapted and directed by Vladimir Shcherban, BEING Harold Pinter incorporates transcripts from Belarusian political prisoners with excerpts from Harold Pinter's lifetime of writings. Creating visually striking images with simple means and underscoring the fierceness of Pinter's words with the intense physicality of the actors, BEING Harold Pinter blurs the boundaries between art and reality, delivering a poignant contemporary commentary on violence, oppression, freedom and human dignity.

Directed by Vladimir Shcherban and conceived by Shcherban, Natalia Koliada, and Nikolai Khalezin, ZONE OF SILENCE consists of three independent chapters reflecting on various taboos which are not open for wide discussion in Belarusian society. In the first chapter, "Childhood Legends," actors tell their own stories from their childhood; in the second chapter, "Diverse," actors relay stories collected by extraordinary Belarusians who experience the pressures of unmotivated social aggression; the third and final chapter, "Numbers," explores the dry numbers of Belarusian statistics.

Written and directed by Nikolai Khalezin, DISCOVER LOVE is a love story based on real events. The show is based on real facts from the life of Irina Krasovskaya, whose husband was kidnapped and murdered for lending assistance to the democratic body of Belarus. The story follows a wife's reaction to the news of her husband's murder: the shock, the realization, and most powerfully the loss of a love that continued to blossom. DISCOVER LOVE is the 11th production created by Free Theatre.

"We are happy to be back to the city that is full of friends. It's our city and our friends who now fight with us for those who are in jail in Belarus," said Natalia Koliada, Co-Founder of the Belarus Free Theatre. "We got a lot of letters of support from all of the world. But for us it was vitally important that the American public and theatre makers would not feel sorry for us but would value our artistic work realistically."

BELARUS FREE THEATRE (BFT) was founded in 2005 in Minsk by Natalia Koliada along with her husband, Nikolai Khalezin, who is the company's General Director and Producer. In Belarus the troupe has neither permanent stage nor space for rehearsals nor financial support. The theatre is a member of European Theatre Convention, laureate of the Prize of the French Republic for human rights defense in 2007 and "special mention" jury prize of the prestigious theatrical prize of "Europe for Theatre." The company features Pavel Garadnitski, Irene Iarochevitch, Nikolai Khalezin, Yana Rusakevich, Aleh Sidorchyk, Dzianis Tarasenka, and Maryna Yurevich.

LA MAMA was founded in 1961 by theatre pioneer and legend Ellen Stewart. La MaMa is recognized as the seedbed of new work by artists of all nations and cultures. It is the place where emerging artists learn from established artists and where artists from around the globe share work and ideas. To date, La MaMa has presented artists from more than 70 nations. Each season, La MaMa presents between 50-60 regular season productions plus another 40 single night performances in its three theaters. La MaMa has been honored with over 30 Obie Awards, dozens of Drama Desk Awards, Bessie Awards and Villager Awards. La MaMa has an incredible roster of theatre, movie and multi-media luminaries for whom La MaMa was an early artistic home. www.lamama.org

The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Joey Parnes, Interim Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation's preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals and productions of classics at its downtown home and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public Theater's mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through extensive outreach and education programs. Each year, more than 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe's Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public Theater has won 42 Tony Awards, 151 Obies, 41 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. The Public Theater has brought 54 shows to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; For Colored Girls...; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Passing Strange; the revival of Hair; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Merchant of Venice. www.publictheater.org.

 

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