Witness - Free theatre of Belarus
From: Witness

Free Theatre of Belarus

A look at the struggle for freedom of expression and the power of art.

Watch part two

Belarus is said to be Europe’s last dictatorship, a country damned as an outpost of tyranny by the US.

Despite some slight easing of tension with the West in recent years, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, still rules his country with an iron fist.

Critics of his regime fear for their lives when they voice their opposition.

But despite these oppressive conditions, Belarus is home to an extraordinary underground theatre group, a band of dedicated actors who use their creative force to speak out for democracy.

Banned by the authorities and performing secretly in private houses, the troup has no regular base, gets no press reviews and the audiences are kept in the dark about the venue until the very last minute. Each performance could be their last.

In Free Theatre of Belarus, Witness follows Elyssa Livergant, an acclaimed Canadian playwriter and theatre teacher, as she secretly travels from London to Minsk to collaborate with the Free Theatre of Belarus. 

It is a rare glimpse into this closed society, a powerful testament to the struggle for freedom of expression, and a moving story about the power of art. 

Free Theatre of Belarus can be seen from Thursday, April 29, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 0830 and 1900; Friday: 0330, 1400 and 2330.