Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I’m writing with a short update and an appeal, on behalf of the Belarus Free Theatre and its co-founders, Natalia Kaliada and Nikolai Khalezin. So many of you were instrumental in, or were present for, their successful run in New York last winter, co-produced by LaMama and The Public Theater following the Under the Radar Festival; or worked with the company on previous trips; or were generous enough to offer your homes to them when we reached out to you.
And some of you may already know that Natalia and Nikolai, and several BFT company members applied for and won political asylum in the United Kingdom—their many friends and supporters in London were instrumental in bringing that about. Circumstances in Belarus continue to be dangerous, and Natalia and Nikolai are tireless in their efforts to focus awareness on the abuses of power and human rights violations that are taking place there. They are frequently traveling abroad to meet with diplomats and politicians who will hopefully apply pressure on the Belarusian government to release political prisoners and bring an end to enforced disappearances.
The BFT are also busy creating new pieces they hope will make a difference, one of which, A Reply to Kathy Acker: Minsk 2011 was presented at the Edinburgh Festival. Kathy Acker received a top award of the festival, "The Scotsman Fringe First 2011" Award for "Innovation and Outstanding New Writing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe", as well as The Guardian’s "The Very Weighty Topics Award.”
In establishing their new home in the U.K., BFT are in the process of officially registering "Belarus Free Theatre" for charitable status (not-for-profit). They have started an online fundraising campaign to raise the money to employ a UK staff member and kick-start a tiny office in London—and to provide some means for the BFT to survive. The goal of the first leg of this campaign is £9,000 (approximately $14,000) and they are half way towards that goal. The deadline for the campaign is December 12th—and as any of you who’ve done an online fundraising campaign will appreciate, if they don’t reach the goal by that time, they will be liable for a high penalty—
As a number of you have asked how you might help the Belarus Free Theatre, I’m reaching out in the hope that you will click on the link below and donate—whatever you can– to the company’s efforts to establish themselves in their new country, and continue their brilliant and very important work. You’ve heard this before, but it’s true: every little bit counts…
To donate, click on http://www.sponsume.com/project/belarus-free-theatre
Director and Curator,
hotINK at the LARK: a festival of new plays from around the world