Mischief + Mayhem + Belarus
If you watch the RTWCS Ledig House event video that was posted yesterday, you’ll hear me try and introduce the wonderful, and ever mysterious, DW Gibson. DW is one of the most active people I know in the literary world, running Ledig House, scouting, writing novels, writing pirate books, helping run a publishing house . . . Already too exhausted to type more . . .
I’ll wager that most Americans cannot point to Belarus on a map, much less identify it as the only modern dictatorship in Europe. I hadn’t given the former Soviet nation much thought until I met Nataliya Kolyada and Nikolai Khalezin, co-founders of the Belarus Free Theatre, which has sold out venues around the world but must perform underground when at home. Productions are staged in private houses; invitations must be sent via cryptic text messages just hours before the play begins. No one is charged for tickets. The company’s work is verboten by Alexander Lukashenko’s administration, which insists on sanctioning all theater, regardless of whether it’s political or slapstick—or both. Several members of the Belarus Free Theatre have been imprisoned, threatened, or both.
Why the lack of international awareness of the political situation in Belarus? Kolyada says: “No oil. No gas. No mountains. Only ten million people.” The dark humor of her statement characterizes this issue of Wild Rag.
All of the pieces here are worth checking out: Artur Klinov’s photo-essay The Sun City of Dreams, Olga Zavadskaya’s Dmitry Zavadsky: A Typical Day in the Danger Zone, Sergei Zakonnikov’s Gennady Karpenko, As I Remember Him, Zinaida Gonchar’s Victor Gonchar: To Get Into a Car One Day and Drive Away, Aimlessly, and finally, Nikolai Khalezin’s play Thanksgiving Day.