I have been involved with Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) since early 2011. They are an intrepid, persistent, urgent collective and in Natalia and Nicolai they are a constant inspiration.

The production of King Lear that they presented at the Globe in 2012 was one of many moments that their work has reminded me of the essence of theatre. To tell a story to an audience so that they may see themselves. The simplicity in which Lear plunged an iron fist into a suitcase of soil to divide his kingdom between his daughters remains as vivid a picture of how simple and how powerful theatre and performance can be.

BFT are a global force and break down barriers, hypocrisy and bullshit wherever they find it. A testament to the human spirit and the bravery of what that can achieve – we are lucky to have them here in the UK. They have been working in exile and via whatever means possible for years and as we look ahead to how the arts can survive and prosper BFT are a beacon that can help illuminate that journey.

James Bierman is an independent film and theatre producer