Belarus Free Theatre, the Minsk-based company which resists the censorship of its home country, is to return to London with a new production at the Almeida theatre in July.
The underground theatre company, which has previously played at Soho theatre and the Young Vic, was created in 2005 by playwrights and human rights activists Natalia Koliada and Nikolai Khalezin. While its international profile has soared, the company runs a considerable risk of arrest when it performs in its home country, which is subject to state censorship under president Lukashenko.
After staging productions of Being Harold Pinter, Generation Jeans and Dreams during their last London visits, Belarus Free Theatre comes to the Almeida with Eurepica. Challenge, a collection of 12 plays from 11 European countries presented as an unsettling tour of the continent. The production plays from 20 to 26 July with a chance to discuss the challenges facing BFT during a post-show talk on 22 July.
Eurepica. Challenge runs as part of the Almeida’s annual summer festival, a showcase of innovative work from visiting companies.
This year’s festival also welcomes Greyscale theatre company, which will turn the Almeida theatre into a ‘theatre brothel’ between 6 and 16 July. Performed in and around the Almeida theatre, The Theatre Brothel invites the audience to buy the experience they want from a selection of offerings. The production, which has previously played in Hull and Newcastle, is described as a “provocative and challenging exploration into how we engage with theatre and how our perceptions of it can be altered.”
This year’s Almeida festival will also include a parallel festival presented by the theatre’s Young Friends, the Almeida’s membership club for 15 to 21-year-olds. John Donnelly’s Encourage The Others, based on the theatre’s current season and the Young Friends’ own experiences, will play on 29 and 30 July, while The Rashomon Effect, a performance devised with Greyscale’s Selma Dimitrijevic, will play on 9 July.
The festival will end with an afternoon street party on 31 July comprising music, theatre tours, workshops and a bake-off judged by Jane Asher.