This is a post that is intended to inform. Whether you be invested in the theatre industry or not, it’s highly important. It’s meant to hold a mirror up to your own life for a moments reflection and understand what we are privileged to have, and it’s something that is not a tangible entity. I’m not talking about the latest computer game, or what benefits you’re claiming, whereabouts you live or what gender/class/job you happen to fall into. It’s something we all have, something that unites us as a human race and something that is recognised. And that is the power to say what we want. Now before people bite my head off and profoundly/crassly bark that the Government doesn’t hear us, yes I know. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the simple action of speaking out. We can bemoan the state of affairs down the pub, in the garden, in the workplace, around the dinner table, in the street. But we don’t get hauled into prison for merely talking about it, do we?
I don’t confess to being a highly intelligent person, in fact I crave learning more now than I did in school. I’m also not announcing that I hold all the answers, but I can draw your attention to things that I think are important like Belarus Theatre… I’ll be honest here, I knew of the company and I knew of their work, but I’d never really known the facts behind the furore. And in a way, I wish I could go back to thinking like that. What these people are subjected to is heinous. Something we very much take for granted and strive to work for (and create a system for ‘young’ playwrights to flourish in and create a whole business out of) is something that is a luxury. Competitions, schemes, bursaries, programmes, courses, university degrees and so on. I say this as a playwright but also as a human being. We choose to partake in going to the theatre, in studying the craft, in allowing ourselves to pick up a pen or buy a ticket to go and create, see theatre. We can say what we want and the worst backlash we have to deal with is Charles Spencer thinking we shouldn’t be given funding or the Producer trying to give away more comps so they can disguise the fact the show’s not sold many tickets. We can say what the hell we want and if it doesn’t work, we carry on to the next project. Belarus Theatre do not have this luxury. They are constantly trying to be deprived of such an activity and even if you do not like the theatre or even consider this a hardship, it is.
Belarus Theatre company is a collective that people have either heard about or seen. The company itself is compiled of people who want to express themselves through the normal channels of freedom of speech but who are imprisoned, beaten and prevented from doing so. They rehearse in alleyways, courtyards, darkness to put on their shows and it’s not unheard of for someone to not turn up because they’ve been thrown in isolation or simply gone missing. All because the dictatorship knows the power their work can have, the ability to speak out against the regiment they want to instil in the people.
They’re asking for anything you can give to help them set up a base here in London, a stable environment which they’ve never had so the few of them that are here can generate funds to carry on performing. This is a company who have worked on a shoestring with rehearsal spaces being public places so therefore free. You can give them any donation at the following page: click here
I’ve donated what I can and it’s by no means large. But what I can do is bring it to your attention so the word can spread and hopefully the total will rise. Like I say, I’ve been walking around with my head in the sand about this company and I feel like we need to shout a bit louder from being in a position because we can. Do the research, take in the atrocities these people are facing and share these links. I cannot imagine what it would be like living in a situation where someone else dictates what I can and cannot write. Part of the allure of theatre is being able to say what you want and having the freedom to do so. Even though I’m not a politically minded individual, I’m a voice that can say what I want. And I’m going to use it to bring attention to those that need it. Do me a favour and do the same.