Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) is the only theatre in Europe banned by its government on political grounds. Founded in Minsk in 2005, BFT emerged as a direct challenge to the absolute censorship of freedom of artistic expression in “Europe’s Last Dictatorship”. Soon after its inception, the company was forced underground, faced with harassment and persecution for its role in demanding recognition for those hidden on the margins of an oppressive society.
Described by The New York Times as, “one of the bravest and most inspired underground troupes on the planet”, BFT has originated some of the world’s most provocative and breathtakingly physical theatre – 50 brand new productions performed in more than 40 countries around the globe.
BFT is more than a theatre: alongside exploding taboos on the world stage, the company has pioneered an award-winning global model of activism that unites artistic, geopolitical, environmental and human rights concerns, using theatre to build a movement for democracy, human rights and artistic freedoms.
Since 2011, BFT has pioneered creating theatre at-distance between the UK, which became a second home to co-founding Artistic Directors, Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin, and Belarus, where BFT’s 20-strong permanent ensemble campaign, educate and perform every single day of the year.
Awards for BFT include the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic (2007), the Atlantic Council Award (2011), the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent (2018), the Magnitsky Prize for Courage Under Fire (2020) and The Stage International Award (2021).
“One of the bravest and most inspired underground troupes on the planet” The New York Times
For the past fifteen years, Belarus Free Theatre has pioneered a global model of activism that unites artistic, geopolitical, environmental and human rights concerns, using theatre to build a movement for democracy, human rights and artistic freedoms.
Founded in 2005 in Minsk under Europe's last surviving dictatorship, and banned by its own government on political grounds, BFT’s leadership and permanent ensemble are uniquely equipped with first-hand experience of the myriad threats facing democracy today.
Co-founding Artistic Directors, Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin, lead on high-level political advocacy and investigative journalism from the UK whilst BFT’s 12-strong permanent ensemble deliver citizen-facing work around cultural resistance through performances, campaigns and education programmes on the ground in Minsk.
We had hoped to share more details with you about BFT's campaigns, upcoming productions and our remarkable and indefatigable permanent ensemble but cannot do so at the current time without putting those in Minsk in greater danger.
You can support our brave artivists and educators here. Particularly at the current time, your donations are a lifeline for BFT.
We will be announcing workshops held in the UK and online so please check our Education section.