Belarus Free Theatre's

Being Harold Pinter

February 17 - 21, 2011

Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare

A World's Stage Production
from Belarus
adapted and directed by Vladimir Scherban
produced by Nikolai Khalezin
and Natalia Koliada

Being Harold Pinter Critical Acclaim

“There's no question these gifted, brave actors from Belarus, who surely deserve the freedom to make their art and say what they need to say, regardless of governmental opinion, have earned to the right to tell their truths. No better place than in Chicago.”

“If you want to see theater that really makes a difference, and that puts the lie to "art for art's sake," you will never have a better chance to do so. Belarus Free Theatre is truly acting for its life. The bar for political theater just got raised to an impossible high.”

“This is theater that deals with politics and the boundaries between what is real and what is art. Belarus Free Theatre's "Being Harold Pinter" is more than a theatrical experience. It is indeed a life experience.”

“Drama doesn't come more urgently political than in the work of the Belarus Free Theatre. Banned in its home country, where all official theatre is state-run, the company rehearses and performs in secret, its productions and very existence acts of cultural defiance.

They mine the work of Harold Pinter for thrilling resonances, thrusting jagged shards of scenes and dialogue from his plays among extracts from Pinter's Nobel Prize lecture and testimonies of the victims of human rights abuses and political prisoners. ”

     These actors are no chatterers—they understand the vitriolic subtext of the plays. Under the amoral objectivity of the writing, they've found the moral fury that is its dynamo and its soul. The extraordinary thing is the restraint of the acting. People who live in a world of intimidation and torture know they don't have to be ostentatious about it.”

Being Harold Pinter, a more theatrically ambitious production by director Vladimir Scherban, presents us with excerpts of five Pinter plays, woven together into a cohesive whole, united by the text of the writer's 2006 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. If Pinter is a writer whose work has always been political—obliquely at first, more forcefully in his later years—Scherban's staging makes its points loud and clear. There's little room for ambiguity when censorship, torture and disappearance are part of your political reality.”

“Though the company's means are very limited, their visual invention is striking. It's an extraordinary event that not only illustrates Pinter's career-long denunciation of political terror, but proves that poor theatre can often deliver the richest dramatic experience.”

“Their very stark experience of how much drama can matter—both to those who want it performed and those who don't—gives a keen edge to their performances. Being Harold Pinter, an assemblage of extracts from Pinter's work and testimony from Belarusian political prisoners, is intelligent and moving, performed with striking and effective simplicity.”

“It's a rewarding experience. The play Being Harold Pinter knocked me out”
–Tom Stoppard

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