MINSK 2011: A REPLY TO KATHY ACKER Will Move You To Tears

IMG_2099_1-1024x709By the end of the sensational Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker currently playing at the upstairs theatre at Chicago Shakespeare, you are left with the feeling that you have just witnessed the entire realm of theatre in 85 minutes.  Conceived and directed by Vladimir Shcherban and written in a little over a three-week period by the Belarus Free Theatre ensemble, Minsk is a cerebral and visceral experience you will not soon forget.

The dynamic ensemble performance is voiced in Russian and Belarusian with projected subtitles.  The actors reenact numerous historical events including a recent subway bombing, Misnk’s first gay pride parade and ultimate break-up by skinheads and police as well as an “underground” sex club where  experimentation flourishes. There is also an historical retrospect on the capital city of Belarus.

At the core of Minsk 2011 (whose occupation by Europe’s last dictatorship has left the city in a cultural demise) is a resurrection of youthful sexual angst that screams to be recognized and accepted.  These nine actors bring every technique of classical and modern theatre to the forefront and in doing so, triumphs in their storytelling expose of rebellion.

cst_minsk_1How prevalent is this production?  Well, just last month the Belarusian totalitarian regime raided the Belarus Free Theatre’s rehearsals and arrested these actors for the subject material.   The poignant final ten minutes of Minsk 2011 allows the actors (Maryna Yurevich, Dzianis Tarasenka, Siarhei Kvachonak, Yuliya Shauchuk, Yana Rusakevich, Pavel Radak-Haradnitski, Viktoryia Biran, Aleh Sidorchyk, and Kiryl Kanstantsinau) to describe the aftermath of the raid, leaving some of them exiled and blacklisted.    The lesson is with all this trauma, their love of Minsk is absolute.  Whether some of them now can only access their capital city virtually or otherwise, Minsk is eternally in their blood, for better or worse.

Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker runs through February 3, 2013 at the Upstairs Theatre at Chicago Shakespeare.  For more information visit www.ChicagoShakes.com For calendar information please visit www.TheatreinChicago.com