Give a Body Back

The Facts

Belarus is the only country in Europe still to use the death penalty, and the process is shrouded in secrecy. Amnesty International states that the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Play: Trash Cuisine

Trash Cuisine, BFT’s first stage production in English, had its European premiere at the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam in 2011, and opened at the Young Vic Theatre in May 2013.

Combining true stories from inmates, executioners, human rights lawyers and families of the executed it put Belarus’s appalling human rights record firmly in the spotlight alongside testimonials from some of those other 36 countries that retain the death penalty in both law and practice around the world, gathered on research trips to Rwanda, Thailand and Malaysia.

As director Khalezin explained in an interview with the Evening Standard: “It is not possible to look at Belarus separately; for us it is always necessary to talk about these issues on a global scale”.

BFT partnered with The Guardian on an exclusive post-show event, hosted by Andrew Dickson, together with Reprieve founder, Clive Stafford Smith; BFT co-founding Artistic Director, Natalia Kaliada; and BFT supporter, Reprieve trustee and legendary fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood.

The Campaign

In every town and city where Trash Cuisine was performed, BFT invited audience members, friends and supporters to join them in the performative public action, Give a Body Back.

An iconic location was chosen and participants were asked to zip themselves into a body bag and then to lie motionless for 40 minutes. The action sought to protest and raise public awareness of global capital punishment and of Belarus’ policy of not returning the bodies of those executed to their families.

First launched in Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, in London, the public action was led by Jude Law and took place in Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square and Piccadilly Circus. In Edinburgh, Martyr’s Monument was the chosen site for the stunt, and in New York, Give a Body Back took place outside the Supreme Courts of Justice and was led by Twilight star and activist (Free the Nipple), Casey Labow.