Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review- Being Harold Pinter- Belarus Free Theatre

The characters are trapped! Very 6 character in search for an author!
Belarus Free Theatre was founded in 2005 by playwright  Mikalai Khalezin, created under a dictatorship everything about their work is daring and about performing as if they will be shot the next day for their work. They create with abandon and with a reckless style which is beautiful and sad at the same time. The performance of Being Harold Pinter was an original work of the Belarus Theatre in tribute to their patron Harold Pinter. It is a collection of monologues and ten minute plays written by Pinter put together with his Nobel Prize Speech for Literature and some letters from some Belarusian prisoners.

The plays in Being Harold Pinter are: Mountain Language, One for the Road, The Homecoming, Ashes to Ashes, Old Times, The New World Order. I have read some of the works before in Graduate school and was very happy I had since it was performed in Russian and Belarusian which I believe is a Ukrainian dialect. Surprisingly the Pinter Pause does not translate into performing Pinter in a foreign language. It's amazing to me the lack of pauses in the work because when we study Pinter as Americans it's all about the pauses. At this production there was a complete absense of pauses until they switched plays. I think it was the translation of the work that changed the structure of it and removed the pauses, it didn't make the work any better or worse though. (Minus the Pauses). My room mate Michael thought the women were better actors than the men. I particularly loved Yana Rusakevitch. I agreed overall the women were better but that the men seemed to be better at physicality.

Physicality is the best part of seeing at BFT show. It had both English and Chinese Subtitles for the audiences enjoyment of the text but I could have enjoyed it without them. There were some beautiful physical moments in the show. The most stunning part was during One for the Road when they were to be castrating the male prisoner and to show this they stripped him and bent him backwards. Then, they set a marshmallow on fire and put it on his crotch. The gutteral screams emmited during this section were gut wretching. The actor was delicately balanced onto a black cane with his legs and arms and spread and when he was burnt, they pulled the cane off from under him and he fell to the floor in a tiny ball.
Poor Actor burnt by marshmallow!
There was a color palate of black, red, sieppa, and silver. The only use of white was in a large plastic tarp that was used to capture the cast during the description of "creation of characters" in Pinter's Nobel Prize Speech. BFT used several cognac glasses during the production to create the sound of the show. They would run their fingers along the rim of the glass during the different sections. The sound made the sections seem even more creepy. The chairs in the show were the only color in the production being black with red seats.

Purpose of Production
BFT declares the theme of the show is, "How is a play born? What is the difference between truth and art? Should an artists be involved with politics?" It also shows violence in 3 different settings: violence of the home, violence of the government and violence between governments.
An example of the scenic design
Final Thoughts
I enjoyed my night with the Belarus Free Theatre. They had stunning physical work and beautiful vocal ranges. Any times any of the cast members in the show would scream it would make you uncomfortable as an audience. Several people in the theatre walked out during the show because it was super intense. (That's what made it SOO good!) We had a large amount of walkouts during the nudity and burning scene and we lost a few in the beginning when they st
arted choking each other during the The Homecoming.

Grade= A
Putting on Nicky's Shoes in "One for the Road"

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