“I divide my life into ‘before’ and ‘after’ Fortinbras – the experience has been priceless.
I’ve gained so many useful skills, both professional & personal.”
Studio Fortinbras, Belarus Free Theatre’s training and teaching academy in Minsk, was founded by Nicolai Khalezin, together with Natalia Kaliada and Vladimir Shcherban, in 2007.
What started out as a series of masterclasses delivered by BFT’s friends and supporters – writers, actors, directors and journalists from around the world – soon crystalised into an education programme when it became clear that BFT could not find the kinds of actors they needed through any other routes.
“It is called Fortinbras because Fortinbras knew where to take dead bodies... It was clear to us that the old way of doing theatre was dying.”
To this day Studio Fortinbras is the only independent theatre school in Belarus combining drama education with training in activism, journalism and campaigning to create the next generation of socially-engaged artists.
Students describe the school as ‘transformative’ and are encouraged to find their own voices and deepen their engagement with social and political issues.
As part of an intensive two-year programme, students receive 21 hours of training per week - a combination of seminars and masterclasses - with strong practical elements that include both devised performance, and the design and implementation of campaigns.
More than half of Fortinbras’ 180 graduates are actively involved in civil society organisations, some having established their own. Some students carry on to become full-time ensemble members of Belarus Free Theatre.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, dates for our Masterclasses and International Summer School in 2021 are still to be confirmed. Please sign up to our mailing list, or contact Katie Elphick to register your interest.
“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.