Kupalinka song and Long Live Belarus at Edinburgh Festival
12:17, — Politics
For the first time Belarusians were able to watch the live stream of the Free Theatre's performance at the Edinburgh Festival.
The Edinburgh Festival held during August attracts about 1 million spectators. The Belarus Free Theatre played its Trash Cuisine, which had been triumphantly staged at London's Young Vic, at one of the main festival venues Pleasance Grand on August 25. The performance was streamed live also on the website charter97.org.
Trash Cuisine tells about the death penalty in Belarus. The idea of the performance appeared three year ago, when European partners of the Free Theatre were confident the topic was out-of-date – they said entire Europe had stopped using the death penalty long ago. However, the trial against Uladzislau Kavaliou and Dzmitry Kanavalau and their execution “suddenly” awoke Europe and the European Cultural Foundation proposed the Free Theatre to work on the issue. A story about court proceedings in the metro bombing case is shown against the background of the monologue by Liubou Kavaliova, the mother of one of the executed men. The scene is hard to retell, it should be seen. The mother's last words are: “When Uladzislau was arrested he said 'Don't worry mom, it's will be all right and I will be free in 72 hours.' I am still waiting for 72 hours to pass…”
The show is accompanied by music performed live by Arkadiy Yushin a Belarusian-American composer and guitarist. The Belarusian national song Kupalinka is played in the climatic scene of Uladzislau's story.
The show finished with a standing ovation and several encores.
Natallia Kaliada, the director of the Belarus Free Theatre, thanked the audience from the stage and noted that Trash Cuisine was watched by spectators in Belarus on a live stream. Natallia Kaliada said the Belarusians were the bravest theatre audience.
“Speaking for the free speech and against censorship we want this performance to be available for the audience around the world, in particular for Belarus. The Belarus Free Theatre organised the first live streaming as an act of civil disobedience. This is a revolutionary event for Belarus and Belarusians, who are cut off from information and cultural life outside the country and cannot watch forbidden performances. Our spectators in Belarus are the bravest audience in the world. We devote our show to them as well as to Belarusian political prisoners and their families,” Kaliada said.
The Belarus Free Theatre directors ended her speech with the words “Long live Belarus” noting that the chant was also forbidden in the country.
The audience began to chant “Long live Belarus” as a sign of solidarity with political prisoners and Belarusians living under a dictatorship.
Mikalai Khalezin, the head of the Belarus Free Theatre, said to charter97.org:
“We've done a hard work. It was very difficult to organise live streaming at the Edinburgh Festival. Streaming a performance is much more difficult than streaming a conference or a video appeal. The film crew has to get prepared quickly during a short time of installing and striking the scenery. The subtitles were to be made quickly. But we've done it! Unfortunately, not all Belarusians have good ISPs. Some people reported about lagging, but we received many rapturous comments and calls from Belarus for the first 30 minutes of the show.
It's not our first appearance at the festival in Edinburgh. We perform at one of the best venues and receive positive reviews from the British press, but the more the topic of violence in raised in Belarus and in the world, the hotter it becomes and attracts more attention from audience and the media. We suffered huge losses due to the live streaming, but we understand that the Belarusian audience cannot watch our performances because they are forbidden in the country. It was our principled position to reach the Belarusian audience. Theartre have never streamed shows live before. It was very important to set this trend.”
The Belarus Free Theatre promises another pleasant surprise in the middle of September. The troupe is expected to perform at another prestigious venue.