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Belarus Free Theatre: Dogs of Europe

A burning pile of books.

Welcome to the Barbican and this UK premiere of Dogs of Europe. A lot has happened since we had our first conversation with Belarus Free Theatre to bring the production to the Barbican. The book on which the play is based, has now been banned by the government in Belarus, since the highly contested 2020 general election there. Then, shortly after the first clandestine premiere of the play in Belarus, and just as the show was about to open here, Covid-19 struck. Had the play been seen here then, it would have been extremely prescient, but now, with the atrocious Russian invasion of Ukraine, the play seems more relevant than ever, one could even say prophetic. We’re immensely grateful to be continuing our relationship with this exiled company, following our presentation of their poignant film, Alone, along with a screentalk in our cinema at the end of last year. We’re very proud to see Belarus Free Theatre now make their Barbican stage debut at last.

Thank you for joining us this evening.

Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre and Dance, Barbican

 

If we look for parallels in art, then Dogs of Europe reflects my life – it is about me. I lived under a Reich and I fled to a Europe which has, as in the novel and the play, stopped reading books. But my mystery still lies in a time capsule underneath Siadych Street in Minsk. In the novel there is just one school on Siadych Street, and it is the school that I went to. So when I got to that moment in the book and I read the street name and about the school, I felt cold sweat on my back. I had to put off finishing the novel and writing the play for several weeks because it was about my life, because then subconsciously you are already looking for these details, for proof that this is your story. What is most terrifying today is that we all find ourselves in the dystopian world Alhierd Bacharevic imagined. When I started working on this project I thought this book was just about my life, my future, now we see that Dogs of Europe is about everyone’s future and I feel that fear in every scene. We can only hope now that in our real life we will do everything to get back onto the path towards peace otherwise we face the end of humanity.

Nicolai Khalezin, Artistic Director, Belarus Free Theatre

 

You can be sure of one thing - Belarus Free Theatre are the good guys. For seventeen years the company has been chased around, persecuted, arrested, exiled, spied on and slandered by the Lukashenko regime, always in danger and impoverished, and during all that time it has made theatre driven by the death of freedom in Belarus. Today the last dictator in Europe is paying his dues to Putin, and BFT is once again on stage to remind us what is at stake.

Sir Tom Stoppard

About the show

From one of the world’s bravest theatre companies comes a visceral, psychological drama set in the near future, depicting a dystopian super-state in which individual rights have given way to control.

In 2049, a murder investigation sets a man on a quest, his search bringing him to former Belarus and Russia, now a European territory ruled by a secret service. But his journey becomes less about the regime’s origins, more a revelation about his own role in its creation. Based on a novel by Alhierd Bacharevic – now banned in Belarus – Dogs of Europe is an epic fantasy and political thriller about the dangers of looking away when authoritarianism takes root.

Exiled from their native country, the co-founders of Belarus Free Theatre are political refugees who make work, renowned for its physical theatrical style, that plays to courageous audiences in secret locations across Minsk and around the world. Having lived in democracies and a dictatorship, this show is especially prescient.

 

Pre-show talk
Fri 11 Mar, 6pm

On Friday 11 Mar at 6pm Belarus Free Theatre’s co-founding Artistic Directors, Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin for an in-conversation event chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC. This pre-show conversation will take place ahead of a performance of Dogs of Europe. Separate tickets are required for this event.

Find out more: https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2022/event/stand-with-belarus-in-conversation

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Testament to the power of theatre as rebellion by Kate Maltby

The following article was originally published by Index on Censorship in their magazine edition on The Theatre of Resistance After The Pandemic (vol. 50 // No. 4 // Winter 2021)

 

In a skyscraper in the heart of the City of London, a surprisingly airy rehearsal space hosts a group of Europe’s boldest theatre-makers.

In the centre of the room, a woman trudges in a circle with the juddering, formal rhythms of a fatigued sergeant-major, a vacuum-cleaner held out before her like a rifle. On the other side of the “stage”, an actor playing a surgeon is operating on a seemingly conscious patient.

Two stage-managers watch from the front: behind an otherwise conventional rehearsal table littered with sound equipment and notes, someone has hung the white-and-red flag, or byel-chyrvona-byely s’tsyah, which has become the emblem of Belarusian resistance to the dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenko.

I spot a souvenir water-bottle from the Human Rights Foundation’s Oslo Freedom Forum. On a small chair at the side of the room, a voice issues from a Zoom video running on a laptop. This is Nicolai Khalezin, founder with his wife Natalia Koliada of the Belarus Free Theatre company, directing a rehearsal over video link.

 

Virtual rehearsals

Today Khalezin is leading his company by Zoom because he seems to have a cold – and, in the time of Covid, no one can be too careful. But unlike most directors working in London, he has long practised in making theatre remotely. Since 2011, Khalezin and Koliada have held political asylum in the UK, a necessity for survival in the face of repeated harassment and imprisonment at the hands of Lukashenko’s regime.

Khalezin was a journalist before he became a theatre-maker, working for three independent Belarusian newspapers successively closed as the autocracy tightened its grip. But in all the years in the UK, Khalezin and Koliada have never stopped co-ordinating their theatre company, keeping in close but covert contact with artists on the frontline of Belarusian resistance, who have risked their freedom and even their lives to perform “unregistered” theatre in garages and private homes around their homeland.

Long before the pandemic, directing his actors by video-link had become Khalezin’s norm. Now, given the vicious repression which followed Lukashenko’s attempt to assert himself in August 2020 as the “winner” of a sixth term as president, the rest of the 16-member Belarus Free Theatre, and their families, have fled their native land to reunite in London.

Ostensibly, the artists of the Belarus Free Theatre are now refugees. “What can foundations and activists in the West specifically do to help?” I ask Khalezin, perhaps naively.

“What can you do to help? Imagine 20 people arriving in a new country without a roof, without spare clothes, with nowhere to go – then it becomes quite easy to picture what you can do to help.”

But they are also rehearsing in London as prestigious invited artists, programmed to premiere their latest production at the Barbican Centre in March 2022. Dogs of Europe, first performed in an early version in Minsk in 2019 – crowds of supporters turned up in spite of the fear of arrest – is an adaptation of Alhierd Bacharevic’s mammoth novel set in a dystopic Europe of 2049.

In the book, most of Asia has fallen under a secret-service dominated Russian “reich”, while an ever more fragmented western Europe grapples with a refugee crisis. The title seems to recall W H Auden’s poem on the death of Yeats: “In the nightmare of the dark / All the dogs of Europe bark / And the living nations wait / Each sequestered in its hate.”

The novel was published in 2017, but as a long-term collaborator of Bacharevic, Khalezin first saw a version in 2014 – since then, he says, “it has become closer to our contemporary world even quicker than I had imagined.” He is still working on condensing Bacharevic’s 900 pages into a 150 minute show and on scaling up his company’s flexible rehearsal versions to fit the Barbican Theatre’s 1,162-seat main space.

Not that the Belarus Free Theatre’s audiences have ever been small. Part of the problem of performing for years in secret scratch locations around Minsk has always been the sheer number of people who regularly turn up, hungry for intellectual immediacy. The level of direct intervention by Lukashenko’s thugs has varied on and off – part of any surveillance state’s strategy is always to fuel uncertainty and surprise – but in 2007, for example, the entire company were arrested in the middle of a performance of Edward Bond’s Eleven Vests.

Ironically, Bond’s play for young people explores the abuse of liberty by state institutions, both school and army – the arrests came within three weeks of a summit on political liberty in eastern Europe at which Vaclav Havel had hosted the Belarus Free Theatre at his country home in the Czech Republic.

 

Theatre on the streets

With the eruption of protests in 2020, however, the theatre company found themselves performing on open streets. “Minsk is full of courtyards,” says Svetlana Sugako, the company’s general manager. “We went on to the streets, and so did everybody else, so there we were, performing to the crowds of protesters, and they were performing back in the form of their protest.”

Sugako discovered the Belarus Free Theatre in 2007, after being taken by a friend to a bar and rolling her eyes at the mere concept of theatre. “I had only seen the official, patriotic stuff – the state produces these long shows of official history and calls it theatre.”

Inside, the company were performing their internationally acclaimed version of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis. “It was about suicide, and psychosis, and pain – and the government doesn’t allow us to have plays which show this, because we are supposed to be a perfect society, so officially we don’t have suicide, we don’t have psychosis, we don’t have pain. And it was right up in my face, performed at the bar, just like I’m talking to you now.”

Sugako immediately got involved. Shortly afterwards she was arrested with the group, and when I look at accounts of her imprisonment she has given elsewhere, I read harrowing stories about being humiliated while naked, and forced to listen to male prisoners being raped with objects in the next room. So I don’t press her. But she alludes to that particular stint in prison later in our conversation, when she talks about the experiences of being detained again last year in the aftermath of Lukashenko’s crushing of the courtyard protests.

‘‘It was bad before. But even compared to that first time, now it is hell. There are no human rights outside prison. So imagine what happens inside.”

There are still more than 600 political prisoners in Belarus (Lukashenko, in a recent interview with the BBC, called them “criminals”.) The Belarus Free Theatre have been working with Index on Censorship to smuggle letters from prison and publish them on the Index website as Letters from Lukashenko’s Prisoners.

What feels frustrating, observing the Belarus Free Theatre’s development, is how many times it seems to have dropped from the Western radar over the past few years. Ten years ago, they were a liberal cause célèbre – I first encountered their work at an event at the Young Vic in London hosted by Index on Censorship in 2010, which seemed to have every progressive theatre luminary in attendance.

Many friends have stood firm, including the actor Samuel West and the playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, who also has a long-standing relationship with Index. But often, attention seems to flicker fashionably. Khalezin attributes this in part to the sheer wave of people in crisis globally: “You have people in need from Afghanistan, you have people from Syria – we shouldn’t be competing with each other for help, but our stories should all be reason to look beyond your borders, to build more bridges.”

 

Far from home

Most of the company – all of whom have hair-raising tales about escaping Belarus – are likely to be based in Poland for the foreseeable future, partly because living in London is more expensive.

Conversely, the infectiously hopeful aspect of the Belarus Free Theatre is its unfettered advertisement for the power of theatre as rebellion. Critical conversations about art as freedom of expression inevitably revolve around the naysayers’ question: “yes, but does it actually change anything?”

For 15 years, Khalezin and Koliada have been bringing people together in a nation whose government goes to extreme lengths to keep people apart. Theatre is shared experience – this much we know – and one of the markers of Lukashenko’s regime is his attempt to deny citizens shared experience.

In October 2020, during the height of the election protests, people were forbidden from gathering in public places in groups of more than three and private gatherings were banned outright. (This supposedly was a health measure – but, as Sugako observes, “Belarus has no coronavirus. Officially. We are a perfect country, remember?”).

Whether gathering people in private spaces, or engaging inquiring minds at a public protest, the Belarus Free Theatre brings people together. And when people come together, things begin to happen.

 

Kate Maltby is the deputy chair of the Index on Censorship Board of Trustees. She is a critic, columnist, and scholar.
https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2021/12/testament-to-the-power-of-theatre-as-rebellion/

Performers & Creatives

Creative Team

Based on a novel by Alhierd Bacharevic
Nicolai Khalezin Director, Set Designer and Dramaturg
Natalia Kaliada Co-Director
Maryia Bialkovich Co-Dramaturg
Daniella Kaliada Translation
Roman Liubyi Filmmaker and Animator
Richard Williamson Lighting and Video Designer
Sergej Newski Composer
Mark and Marichka Marczyk of Balaklava Blues Original Music and Live Performance
Ella Wahlström Sound Designer
Maria Sazonova Choreographer
Mikalai Kuprych Videographer
Neil Kelso Illusions
RC-Annie Stage Combat Consultants
Maryna Yakubovic Rehearsal Director
Keegan Curran Associate Sound Designer
Ed Borgnis Production Manager
Beatrice Banyionite Video Programmer
Dylan Winn-Davies Sound Programmer and Sound No 1

 

Ensemble

Dogs of Europe was first performed in Minsk in 2020. It opens at the Barbican Centre in London on Thursday 10 March 2022 with the following people:

Darya Andreyanava
Nadia Brodskaya
Nastasya Korablina
Pavel Haradnitski
Kiryl Kalbasnikau
Mikalai Kuprych
Aliaksei Naranovich
Aliaksei Saprykin
Maryia Sazonava
Oleg Sidorchik
Stanislava Shablinskaya
Yuliya Shauchuk
Raman Shytsko
Svetlana Sugako
Ilya Yasinski
Maryna Yakubovich
Valery Mazynsky

For Belarus Free Theatre

Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada Co-Founders and Artistic Directors
Sophie Kayes Co-Executive Director
Jack Hudson Producer
Katie Elphick Education and Campaigns Manager
Daniella Kaliada Communications Manager
Mira Schlate Communications Officer

 

Board members 

Mark Ball (Chair), Michael Attenborough CBE, James Bierman, Tania Clark, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, David J. Kramer, David Lan CBE, Jude Law, Maria Miller MP, Alison Stanley, Laura Wade, Sam West and Damon Wilson.

 

Barbican Theatre Department

Toni Racklin Head of Theatre and Dance 
Simon Bourne Senior Production Manager 
Leanne CosbyJill Shelley, Angie Smith Producers 
Anna Dominian, Saxon Mudge Assistant Producers 
Kyle Bradshaw Marketing Manager
Rebecca Moore Marketing Assistant
Angela Dias Senior Communications Manager
Ella Gold Communications Intern
Freddie Todd Fordham Communications Officer
Lauren Brown Creative Learning Producer (Theatre, Dance, Poetry)
Jamie MaiseyLee Tasker Production Managers  
Tony BrandSteve Daly, Jane DickersonMartin MorganStevie Porter Technical Managers  
Lucinda HamlinCharlotte Oliver Stage Managers 
John Gilroy, Nik KennedyJamie MasseyAdam ParrottTom SalmonJohn SestonChris Wilby Technical Supervisors 
David Green PA to Head of Theatre 
Caroline Hall Production Administrator 
Andrew Pellett Production Assistant 
Kendell FosterBurcham Johnson, Christian LyonsCharlie MannJosh MasseyMatt Nelson, Lawrence SillsNeil Sowerby Technicians 
Heather Readdy Systems and Maintenance Technician 
Fiona BadgeryGary HuntNicola Lake Venue Managers 
Rebecca Oliver Access and Licensing Manager 
Harriet DavisRob NorrisElizabeth Wilks Centre Managers (Delivery) 
Pheona Kidd Centre Manager (Planning) 
Mo Reideman Centre Manager (Health & Safety) 
Julian FoxaLbi Gravener Stage Door

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Biographies

Darya Andreyanava
Performer and Director

Graduated from the Belarus State Academy of the Arts in 2013 with a specialisation in television directing and worked for a while at Zhest, a TV station for hearing-impaired, before joining Studio Fortinbras in 2014. She has subsequently co-authored and produced documentary films Central Store and House #5 and wrote some of the scenes for and performs in the BFT plays of the same name. Other performance credits with BFT include Onyx and Today No One was Born.

 

Nadia Brodskaya
Company Director

Nadia graduated from the Belarusian National Technical University in 2009 as an economist. After graduating she worked as a private tutor. She joined BFT in September 2011 and now is co-managing company director of the company in Minsk.

 

Nastasya Korablina 
Performer

Studied at the choreographic school and theatre class in high school, took part in school productions. Graduated from the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts with a degree in Social and Cultural Management. She coordinated a number of projects in the fashion and beauty industry as well as in the field of art (the National History Museum; art galleries). She joined Studio Fortinbras in 2015 and has performed in the following BFT shows: Onyx, Central Store, Today No One was Born, House #5, The Master had a Talking Sparrow, DerMagenFinDelMöön - Stories by Kharms and A School for Fools. For some of them she created a number of scenes.

 

Pavel Haradnitski
Performer

Pavel Haradnitski joined the Belarus Free Theatre in 2005, after graduating from a leading drama school in Minsk, Belarus. By the time BFT launched their theatre laboratory Fortinbras in 2008, Pavel was so well versed in the BFT method that he also became one of the teachers in the school, training young actors. In 2015 Pavel tried himself in the role of a director with his debut play based on the short stories by Daniil Kharms. A School for Fools was Pavel’s first full scale production, directed in close collaboration with the Artistic Directors, Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada. 

 

Kiryl Kalbasnikau
Performer

Kiryl studied media and journalism at the European Humanities University, graduating in 2013. Since then he worked in cultural and NGO sectors, organising art exhibitions, education festivals, developing websites and designs. In 2016 he joined Fortinbras and has participated as an actor or/and author of scenes in: Central Store, Onyx, The Master had a Talking Sparrow, Today No One was Born, DerMagenFinDelMöön – Stories by Kharms, House #5 and the international production Counting Sheep – Staging a Revolution’. In 2016 he participated in the actions against inequalities of the people with disabilities. Since 2017 Kiryl started writing articles for the Ministry of Counterculture (moc.media.ru), Belarus Free Theatre’s media platform about art and politics.

 

Mikalai Kuprych
Videographer

 

Aliaksei Naranovich
Performer

 

Aliaksei Saprykin
Performer

Graduated from Belarusian State University, Geography faculty and European Humanities University Media and Communications - Visual Culture programme and has worked with a cultural charity as well as Belarus Free Theatre. He performs in: Onyx, The Master had a Talking Sparrow, House #5, Today No One was Born, DerMagenFinDelMöön: Stories by Kharms, Well-Being, and Central Store for which he devised several of the scenes.

 

Maryia Sazonava
Performer and Choreographer

Maryia's creative activities began in 1994 when she joined Gostsitsa Folk Theatre. In 1998 she entered the Belarusian Academy of Arts (BAA) but left before completing. During this time she worked as an actress in the Yanka Kupala theatre. Maryia's career has included work with the musical groups Yuria and Wolf, and dancing with ballet troupe Todes. She currently works as a teacher at BFT's Studio Fortinbras in Minsk.

 

Yuliya Shauchuk
Performer 

Studied directing at the Belarusian State University of Arts and Culture, graduating in 2007. From 2008 to June 2011 she worked at the National Theatre of Belarusian Drama but was fired for participating in an interview in the “free news” called “Non-free theater begins with a tower”. She joined Belarus Free Theatre in 2010 and has performed in New York ‘79, Ivanov’s Christmas Tree, Nearest and Dearest, Today No One was Born, The Master had a Talking Sparrow, DerMagenFinDelMöön: Stories by Kharms, and BFT’s international productions of King Lear, A Flower for Pina Bausch, Minsk 2011, Merry Christmas, Mrs Meadows, Being Harold Pinter, Price of Money, and Burning Doors. She has directed two plays with BFT: Onyx with Studio Fortinbras students and Well-Being.

 

Oleg Sidorchik
Performer

Oleg Sidorchik was born in Minsk, Belarus. He graduated as an actor from Belarusian State Academy of Arts and between 1985 and 2006 worked at the Belarusian Young Spectators Theatre and Belarusian Army Theatre. He joined Belarus Free Theatre in 2005 and played an extensive number of lead roles, most notably Lear in the production of King Lear, which was commissioned by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and performed at its Globe to Globe Festival in 2012 and 2013, as well as at the Young Vic in 2015. He also toured extensively with BFT, playing at many international festivals and venues including Passages Festival, Nancy (France) and Swedish Royal Theatre, Stockholm. He has performed at the Young Vic, Almeida, Pleasance, Soho and the Cockpit theatres in London. Most recently he finished filming for Jon S Baird’s new feature film, Tetris.

 

Raman Shytsko
Performer
Studied at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and received a degree in theatre and film acting. After graduation, he entered the Fortinbras studio. Since then, he has performed at the Belarus Free Theatre in shows such as Central Store, Onyx, Well-Being, Gretel and Hansel, and A School for Fools.

 

Svetlana Sugako
Company Manager

Studied graphic design then music and choreography at Belarusian National University. She has been involved with BFT since its inception in 2005, and has been running the entire operation in Belarus since the artistic directors were forced into exile in 2011. Formally the production manager, Svetlana is an activist, musician, actor, and is leading on a new campaign of BFT on LGBTQI rights. 

 

Stanislava Shablinskaya
Performer

Studied at the New Theatre children’s school and has a masters’ degree in cultural studies from the Belarus State University. In 2014 she joined Studio Fortinbras and has performed in Central Store, House #5, The Master had a Talking Sparrow, DerMagenFinDelMöön: Stories by Kharms, and BFT’s international productions of Burning Doors, Trash Cuisine and Minsk 2011. She is the author of several scenes in House #5, Central Store and Burning Doors, and has taken part in pop-up performances and ‘artistic stunts’ to raise awareness of people with disabilities in Belarus. Given her past sports career and professional training in Karate (between 1997-2009 she won several Belarusian and World championships), BFT arranged for Stanislava to undergo teacher training in Tai Bo.

 

Maryna Yakubovich
Performer and Rehearsal Director

Maryna joined Belarus Free Theatre in 2006. She was dismissed from the Belarusian Army Theatre in 2008 for cooperating with Belarus Free Theatre. She was ordered to pay $12,500 to the state for refusing to work in the role dictated to her. The payment was cancelled after Belarus Free Theatre and actresses Diane Quick and Kim Cattrall launched the ‘Free the Actress from Slavery’ campaign.

 

Nicolai Khalezin 
Director, Set and Costume Designer and Dramaturg
BFT Co-Founder and Artistic Director

Nicolai Khalezin is an award-winning director, playwright, designer, educator, political campaigner, and journalist. Prior to co-founding Belarus Free Theatre in 2005, he was co-founder and co-executive director of the Alternative Theatre in Minsk, and editor-in-chief of the leading social-political weekly newspapers in Belarus – Name, News, and Our Freedom – all of which were shut down by the oppressive regime. Along with Natalia Kaliada and BFT he also founded the unique theatre school Fortinbras. 

 

Natalia Kaliada 
Director
BFT Co-Founder and Artistic Director

Natalia Kaliada is the co-founding artistic director of Belarus Free Theatre (BFT), an award-winning theatre-maker, writer and director. As an internationally renowned diplomat and human rights campaigner Natalia has pioneered a unique method of transversal lobbying and campaigning, uniting artistic, geopolitical, environmental and human rights concerns, to bring systematic change to different societies.

 

Mariya Bialkovih
Co-Dramaturg

Mariya Bialkovich is a Belarusian playwright. She was a member of the Belarus Free Theatre ensemble from 2014-2019 and co-writer of The Master had a Talking Sparrow and Tomorrow I Was Always a Lion. Her first solo play Welfare was staged by Belarus Free Theatre in 2018. She was short-listed for the Independent Young Playwrights Festival Lubimovka in 2019 and has staged numerous readings in Belarus and Russia. 

 

Daniella Kaliada 
Translation

After being forced into exile from her home country of Belarus, Daniella fled to the UK with her parents. As a representative of Belarus Free Theatre and the We Remember Foundation, Daniella has participated in major political conferences across Europe. At 13 she spoke at the British Parliament urging politicians to sanction Lukashenko’s regime and release political prisoners. She is the main presenter of the online show Monologue for Two, run by the Ministry of Counter Culture, and starred alongside Jude Law and Nicolai Khalezin in Connections

 

Roman Liubyi
Filmmaker and Animator

Roman Liubyi studied at the Valentyn Marchenko studio at Kyiv’s National IK Karpenko-Kary Theatre, Cinema and Television University. Since 2013, he has been working with the #BABYLON’13: Cinema of Civil Society group of independent film producers who came together during the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine. In 2015 he began work on his full-length documentary project War Note (2020), based on videos from soldiers’ cell-phones. In cooperation with the Security Service of Ukraine, Roman has created two films based on materials from the major war-crimes cases. Other credits include Hunger for Truth, Zhytomyr, Pigs, Ten Seconds and Generation Maidan: A Year of Revolution & War.

 

Richard Williamson 
Lighting and Video Designer

Recent lighting designs include: the Olivier Award-winning Rotterdam (London and New York); Crocodile Fever and Fiddler on the Roof (Istanbul); The Rage of Narcissus (Pleasance Theatre); The Cutting Edge (Arcola Theatre); Danse Elergie (Sadlers Well Theatre); Everything is Absolutely Fine (The Lowry); The Political History of Smack and Crack (W14 Productions, Soho Theatre); Thor and Loki (Vicky Graham Productions); Bark! The Musical (Swansong Productions); I Have A Bad Feeling About This (Vault Festival); Great Expectations (Tilted Wig); Beowulf (Unicorn Theatre); Insignificance, Thebes Land, Bliss and New Nigerians (Arcola Theatre); Strangers in Between (Trafalgar Studios and Kings Head). Other productions include: Jason and the Argonauts and Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine (Unicorn Theatre); Re:Home (Yard Theatre); The Body (Barbican); Brenda (High Tide and Yard Theatre); Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story (Greenwich Theatre and international tour); The Last Session (Tristan Bates); The Dark Side of Love (Roundhouse); Amphibians (Bridewell Theatre); Richard III, An Arab Tragedy (Swan Theatre Stratford and international tour); 20th Century Boy: The Musical (New Wolsey Theatre); The Taming of the Shrew, The Execution of Justice and Summer Begins (Southwark Playhouse); Mare Rider, Boy With a Suitcase, Peer Gynt, Macbeth, A Midsummer Nights Dream, The Night Just Before the Forest, Tartuffe, Through a Cloud, King Arthur, Mojo Mickybo, The Great Theatre of the World, Tombstone Tales and The Country (Arcola Theatre); In My Name (Trafalgar Studios); Follow (Finborough); Play Size (Young Vic); All Those People I Have Met (Hoxton Hall); The Al-Hamlet Summit (Tokyo International Festival and international tour); Crossing the Line (Baltimore college, USA); Onysos the Wild (Theatre 503 and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh). Seasonal productions include: The Snow Queen (Park Theatre) and pantomimes for Evolution Productions. Richard is the Technical Director of Stone Nest, a Production Manager for 59 Productions and during the Covid period developed new industry tools ZoomOSC and ZoomISO.

 

Sergej Newski 
Composer

Sergej Newski studied at the State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire as well the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden and the Universität der Künste in Berlin. His music has been performed at leading international new music festivals, including the Donauechingen Festival, Wien Modern, Éclat, the Gaudeamus Music Week, the Berliner Festwochen, the ISCM World New Music Days, the Moscow Territoryfest, and UltraSchall. He has received commissions from the Deutsche Staatsoper Unter den Linden, the Berlin Konzerthaus, Ruhrtriennale, Klangforum Wien, the Scharoun Ensemble, the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, the SWR, Deutschlandradio, and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture. He has worked as a theatre composer at the Moscow Tchechov Artists' Theater (MHT) (together with director Kirill Serebrennikov) and at the Comedie Genève and as a Dramaturg at the Komische Oper Berlin (for Olga Neuwirth's American Lulu). From 2011-12 he was music curator for Platform, a series of events organised by the Center for Contemporary Art Vinzawod in Moscow. In 2006 he won 1st Prize at the Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart composition competition for his piece ‘Fluss’ (2005 version) and in 2008 he received the audience prize for his composition ‘Alle’, for speaker and ensemble.

 

Mark Marczyk and Marichka Marczyk of Balaklava Blues
Original Music and Live Performance

Balaklava Blues is the brainchild of Mark and Marichka Marczyk, creators of the multi-award winning guerrilla-folk-opera Counting Sheep and leaders of the mighty Lemon Bucket Orkestra – Canada’s notorious 12 piece Balkan-party-punk-massive. Falling somewhere between a traditional song cycle and a full blown multimedia techno show, the duo fuses Ukrainian polyphony and other folk traditions with EDM, trap, dubstep, and more as a launching pad to explore the seemingly never-ending blues that have long emanated from the Ukrainian steppe. The two met there during the 2014 revolution of dignity and ever since, have dedicated their creative energy to telling the stories of their home country to the world. 

 

Ella Wahlström 
Sound Designer

Ella Wahlström is an international sound designer. She was born in Finland and moved to London in 2010 to train at Rose Bruford College. Her recent sound design credits include: Rare Earth Mettle (Royal Court), A Christmas Carol (Nottingham Playhouse, Alexandra Palace), Piaf (Nottingham Playhouse), I Think We Are Alone (Frantic Assembly, UK tour), Noises off (Garrick), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Alexandra Palace, UK tour), Jellyfish (The National Theatre), Sometimes Thinking (National Theatre, River Stage) Black&White (SJACC, Kuwait), Trying it On (UK tour, RSC, Royal Court, Traverse), Inside Bitch (Royal Court), The Life (English Theatre Frankfurt). She was the sound designer of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello Concerto which premiered in Chicago in 2017 with Yo-Yo Ma as the soloist, and the co-sound designer of Robert Wilson and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Letter to a Man.

 

Neil Kelso
Illusions

Neil Kelso is a multi-disciplinary theatre maker, writer, and performer, specialising in magic. He is a member of the Magic Circle and Mensa. As a co-founder of the House of Q Cabaret Theatre Company, he is a resident artist at Theatre Delicatessen. Credits include: These Trees are Made of Blood (Southwark Playhouse, Arcola), Fanny and Alexander (Old Vic), Invisible Me (The Point Eastleigh), Magical Honey (Sanskruti Dance), and Home (Chichester Festival Theatre).

 

Keegan Curran 
Associate Sound Designer

Keegan has worked in theatre and live events for many years, from production managing open-air music festivals with the White Horse Project in East Lancashire to being an audio engineer on an array of events. Since graduating from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School as a composer and sound designer in 2014, Keegan has taken on various freelance endeavours throughout the world as an engineer, designer and production manager. Previous sound designs: Theatre includes: Pippin (Adam Blanshay Productions and Charing Cross Theatre), The Theatre Channel (Adam Blanshay Productions), Olivier Award winning Baby Reindeer (Francesca Moody Productions), Our Country’s Good (Tobacco Factory Theatres), Oliver Award winning Rotterdam (Theatre503/Trafalgar Studios), My World Has Exploded A Little Bit (Tristan Bates Theatre/Edinburgh Fringe), Infinity Pool (Plymouth Fringe/Edinburgh Fringe), The Blues Brothers: Xmas Special (Arts Theatre), Last Thursday (Prime Theatre), Trip the Light Fantastic (Theatre West/Bristol Old Vic), Living Quarters (Tobacco Factory/SATTF), 140 Million Miles (Tobacco Factory/The Traverse), Where We Are (Theatre Royal Bath), Blue Stockings and The Winter’s Tale (Tobacco Factory), and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (The Redgrave).

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Acknowledgements

Dogs of Europe is presented and co-commissioned by the Barbican and Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. It has been produced by Belarus Free Theatre with support from Arts Council England, the Goethe-Institut, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, and The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, Ihnatowicz Foundation, Backstage Trust, Gregory James, Sir Simon Robertson and Steve Marmion.

Thank you to NDT Broadgate for providing rehearsal space.

Belarus Free Theatre continues to make theatre and fight for democracy and human rights with the generous support of its audiences. To make a donation and support the work of the company please visit www.belarusfreetheatre.com/donate