The Goodman Theatre, the League of Chicago Theatres and Chicago Shakespeare Theater aligned for a limited Chicago run of the play that incorporates Pinter's writings with transcripts from Belarusian political prisoners. The Feb. 21 7:30 PM benefit at Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theater marks the culmination of the Chicago engagement.
The Belarus Free Theatre ensemble includes Pavel Garadnitski, Irene Iarochevitch, Mikalai Khalezin, Yana Rusakevich, Aleh Sidorchyk, Dzianis Tarasenka and Maryna Yurevich. Uladzimir Shcherban adapted and directs the play.
The Belarus Free Theatre made headlines in late December 2010 when several of its members were arrested after protesting the Dec. 19 re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power for 16 years. His opponents claimed election fraud. Belarus Free Theatre members went into hiding following the harsh government reaction to the protests, and the Public Theater made arrangements to quietly transport the performers from the Eastern European nation in time to participate in the Under the Radar Festival in early January. Critics praised the bold, political work.
The Public Theater also staged a New York benefit performance, which included Tony Award-winning playwrights Tom Stoppard and Tony Kushner, as well as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Josh Hamilton, Mandy Patinkin, Lily Rabe, Olympia Dukakis, Stephen Spinella, Trudy Styler, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Linda Emond.
Here's how the work is billed: "Being Harold Pinter incorporates transcripts from Belarusian political prisoners with excerpts from Harold Pinter’s lifetime of writings. Creating visually striking images with simple means and underscoring the fierceness of Pinter’s words with the intense physicality of the actors, Being Harold Pinter blurs the boundaries between art and reality, delivering a poignant contemporary commentary on violence, oppression, freedom and human dignity." For tickets phone (312) 595-5600 or visit ChicagoShakes.