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Tantrum Theater

Insulted. Belarus(sia)

Belarus protesters

Insulted. Belarus(sia)

by Andrei Kureichik

English translation
by John Freedman

A Co-Production of Tantrum Theater and
Ohio University’s Department of Playwriting 

Watch the reading here

Original reading Friday, September 25, 6 PM

This play was written by Andrei Kureichik, the well-known Belarusian playwright and member of the Coordination Council of Belarus. It tells the story of the first month of the Belarusian revolution, its ups and downs on the eve of the inevitable democratization of the country after 26 years of dictatorship. All characters have real prototypes, in some you will recognize former and current leaders of the country, in others - incredible Belarusians who have gone out to battle the totalitarian machine, sometimes at the cost of their lives, their freedom, and their loved ones. They represent polar points of view in the awakened Belarusian society. The author seeks to understand how the Belarusian revolution differs from Prague in 1968, Russia in 1991 and Ukraine in 2014. He tells of the tragic escalation of violence and repression employed by the authorities to repress freedom-seeking Belarusians with bayonets and clubs, and how solidarity, truth and faith in human values inevitably lead to victory over evil. 

About the Playwright
Playwright Andrei Kureichik
Andrei Kureichik

Andrei Kureichik is one of the top playwrights, screenwriters and producers in Belarus. Author of some 30 plays, he has 17 credits on IMDB as a screenwriter, 4 as a producer, 3 as a director. His plays have been performed at the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre and Janka Kupala Theaters in Moscow and Minsk, as well as at numerous theatres throughout the former Soviet Union. Andrei wrote a much-read article about the events in Belarus two weeks ago for American Theater magazine. He is a member of the Coordinating Council of Belarus, whose members are called upon to lead the transition to a new government in Belarus. Many of the members are now in prison. 

Theatre in Belarus: We Will Never Be the Same

Article by Andrei Kureichik for American Theatre publication

Translators note

The backstory of Andrei Kureichik's “Insulted. Belarus(sia)” is quite extraordinary. It is the rare case of a genuine work of dramatic art being created in real time about a topic that is self-destructing and transforming furiously even as each word is being tapped out on a computer keyboard. 

When Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (“the last dictator in Europe”) chose on August 9, 2020, to falsify an election he had lost in a landslide, he thought he was just bending a nation to suit his own needs as he had done for 26 years. In fact, he set off a revolution, as the Belarusian people poured onto the streets to support Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the woman they actually had elected. He also angered, and inspired, Kureichik, Belarus's top playwright and screenwriter, famed for his good-natured comedies. While posting a prodigious amount of exhortative information about the protests online, Kureichik began putting together a play that is based, in part, on statements made by Lukashenko (OLDSTER) and Tikhanovskaya (NOVICE), even as he interweaves them with five imagined characters who speak the language and thoughts that were coming to Kureichik fast and heavy. 

These five other characters present an overview of Belarusian society – 1) MENTOR, an aging teacher who believes in “law and order” and helps guarantee Lukashenko's reelections every four years by falsifying results; 2) CORPSE, a young soccer fan with too much energy to burn who is sick of living under the same president his entire life; 3) AVIAN, a storm trooper who trained during the Maidan revolution in Ukraine and is now in Belarus to put down rebellions there; 4) CHEERFUL, a high-spirited, loving young woman who believes in asking the Universe to send her good vibes, and whose sister is to marry the storm trooper; and 5) YOUTH, Lukashenko's teenaged son Kolya, who is being groomed for the presidency, but would prefer to play internet games. 

The lives of every one of these people – with the possible exception of Kolya, for his debt to destiny is yet to be paid - will be impacted tragically by Lukashenko's decision to crush the revolution with violence and torture. And yet, the resulting play – hard-hitting as it is – is filled with humor, hope and dignity. 

Kureichik completed “Insulted. Belarus(sia)” on September 9. He sent it to me at 3:13 p.m. Central European Time, asking if I would translate it and organize a few readings in order to spread the word about the events in Belarus. Within ten minutes I had lined up six theaters, including New York Theatre Workshop, even without a script they could read. Three days later I finished the translation and got it out to dozens more theaters. As of September 16, 28 companies in six countries are participating in the “Insulted. Belarus(sia)” Worldwide Reading Project. More will join soon. 

John Freedman

Guest Speaker
Bob Eckhart,

Bob Eckhart was a Fulbright Scholar at Minsk State Linguistic University in 2018 and a Fulbright Specialist at Belarusian State University in 2019. He also was featured in a Belarusian TV production on his travels in Belarus (links below). Prior to these appointments, he was the Executive Director of the Combined ESL Programs at the Ohio State University, where he had taught in the English Department and the College of Education since 1993. He was also the American Director of the WHU-OSU Center for American Culture, funded by the U.S. Department of State, on the campus of Wuhan University.

 

Bob in Belarus, Episode 1
Bob in Belarus, Episode 2

Music Credit

Destroy the Walls

Performed by Sergei Tikhanovsky and Sergej Kosmas
Original lyrics by Jacek Kaczmarki

Why all of Belarus is singing a Catalan Song

He was inspired and young,
They were a huge crowd. 

He led the whole city to the square
With a song about light being near.
And they lit candles for him, Smoke floating over the city. 

He sang: let's destroy the prison!
They sang after him:
Destroy the prison walls!
You want freedom? Take it!

The wall will soon fall, fall, fall - and bury the old world!
They knew the words by heart - and the song
Carried them through the streets.
Their blood boiled and anger boiled, 

And hearts were beating in time.
They beat with a hundred thousand hands - in rhythm.
Their enemies they beat on the spot.
He visited walls all over the old world...
And he played and sang:
Destroy the prison walls!
You want freedom? Take it!
The wall will soon fall, fall, fall - and bury the old world!
Then many thousands sprang into action,
Warriors of an entire army.
It is possible to demolish monuments and cobblestones,
Just disassemble the stones.
Everyone felt - it's time,
More power to the struggle:
Who is not with us - he is against us!..
The singer was left all alone.
He watched as rows of people 

Walked along with his song.
And the song dies down, dies down, dies down...
And the walls keep growing, and growing...

Production Crew
Erik Ramsey

Erik Ramsey, Producer, Head of Playwriting
Erik's plays have been developed and/or produced in experimental venues, a menagerie of black boxes, and major theaters such as Cleveland Public, American Stage, and Victory Gardens, as well as published by Samuel French and Dramatic. Ramsey has been a Kennedy Center Faculty Fellow for his work supporting and generating new-play development processes and served as Director of Innovation at WordBRIDGE Playwrights’ Laboratory. His developmental-dramaturgy credits include Steppenwolf (First Look Series), The Playwrights’ Lab at Salt Lake Acting Company, WordBRIDGE and dozens more. He’s led and served on narrative development panels/workshops in Russia at the St. Petersburg Academy of Dramatic Arts “New American Plays” Conference, and Lubimovka Playwrights Laboratory at Teatr.doc. Ramsey is also co-author of the book The Art of Theatre (Wadsworth, Cengage) in use at 100+ colleges and universities.  

Joshua Coy

Josh Coy, Producing Director
Josh is an arts administrator, arts advocate, and performer whose most recent administrative roles prior to joining Tantrum include Executive Director of the Wayne Center for the Arts, Executive Director of the Ohio Arts Presenters Network, and Director of Artists Programs at the Ohio Arts Council. For the past decade, his primary performance outlet has been as a banjo player across the Ohio valley region, and previous favorite theatrical roles include Seymour (Little Shop of Horrors), Feste (Twelfth Night), Uncle Jack (Dancing at Lughnasa), and Edmund (Long Day’s Journey into Night). He holds an MA in Arts Policy and Administration from The Ohio State University, a BA in Theatre from Westminster College (PA), and is currently pursuing an MA in Theater at Ohio University.

Michael Lincoln

Michael Lincoln, Artistic Director, Tantrum Theater
Michael is a professional lighting designer when working beyond Athens. He began his full-time teaching at Ohio University in 2003 and became Director of the School in 2012. Previous to that he taught for fourteen years at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and at the University of Southern California. His professional lighting design career numbers well over 300 productions in theatre, opera and dance and includes Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional, and international venues. Highlights: Tantrum Theater’s Next to NormalCaroline, Or Change and Little Shop of HorrorsCopenhagen on Broadway, The Bubbly Black Girl… at Playwrights Horizons in NYC, and A Streetcar Named Desire for the Cleveland Play House. Michael’s extensive regional credits include long associations with Indiana Repertory Theatre, Alley Theatre in Houston, and the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. Michael had multi-year associations with Los Angeles Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, and Santa Fe Opera. His multiple Broadway credits as an Associate Designer include hit revivals of Guys and Dolls and Anything Goes and original productions of City of AngelsSix Degrees of Separation, and Lend Me a Tenormichaellincoln.net

John Hendel

John Hendel, Assistant Producer, 3rd year M.F.A. Playwriting John is an actor and playwright currently pursuing his MFA in playwriting at Ohio University. His plays have been produced at fringe festivals across the country, including the Cincinnati Fringe Festival (Pulling Off Procreation; winner: Founders’ Pick of the Fringe, 2013), the Hollywood Fringe Festival (Wearhorse), and the International CringeFest in New York. His work has been developed at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, AK. John received his BFAs in playwriting and performance from Ohio University and was last seen acting on a living history colonial farm on the banks of the Potomac.

Natalie Burkett,

Natalie Burkett, Stage Management Natalie is a Junior BFA Stage Management student at Ohio University. She has worked as an Assistant Stage Manager on 13: The Musical with Blue Springs City Theatre, Fusion and Fallout of the Nuclear Family and currently People, Places, and Things at Ohio University. She worked as a Stage Manager on They Came from Somewhere, Back to the 80’s, The Nutcracker, Dynamic Dance Showcase, and The United Way Music Concert with the Blue Springs South Theatre and currently Madness with Ohio University.

Cast (in order of appearance)
EB Smith

E.B. Smith (Oldster) E.B. Smith is a multidisciplinary theater artist and consultant in the fields of acting, directing, producing, administration, education and dramaturgy. Over a 20 year international career, he has worked extensively across the United States and Canada with organizations large and small. Notable past credits include work at the Stratford Festival of Canada, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Karamu House, Canadian Stage Co., Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare BASH’d, and many others. He holds a BFA in theater performance from Ohio University and is a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre. He is currently a candidate in the inaugural cohort of the Master of Arts Administration, also at Ohio University. His mission is to serve the stories he carries and to empower all to revel in and share their own to all cultivate the love and empathy necessary to truly celebrate this world we share. 

Wendy-Marie Martin

Wendy-Marie Martin (Cheerful)Wendy-Marie Martin is a scholar/artist currently pursuing her PhD in Interdisciplinary Arts/Theater and Playwriting at Ohio University. Her areas of research include intersectional feminist theatre and 20th/21st century American playwrights who identify as women. Before coming to Ohio University, Wendy-Marie taught theater history at the Pacific Conservatory Theater, where she also directed for their educational outreach program. While living in Germany, she taught at the Constantin Schule Bochum and directed/devised women solo artists in Aber Morgen at the Console Theatre in Essen, Ich hab’s Sat zu Ihnen zu Kommen…at Die Simplon in Bochum and Nimmersatte Liebe at the Kunstmuseum Bochum. Her short plays have been produced in Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, Japan, Ireland, and the U.S and published by Polychoron Press, and Smith & Krauss, Theatrefolk, and YouthPLAYS. Wendy-Marie is creator and Executive Producer of The Red Eye 10s International Play Festival, creator/coordinator of the Performance Corner for Ohio University’s International Women’s Art Exhibit and co-Producer of the Trans [Plays] of Remembrance Festival at Ohio University. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and a 2020-21 Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Barbara E. Allushuski Graduate Fellow. 

Brian Evans

Brian Evans (Corpse) Brian Evans teaches voice & speech, stage combat and acting. As an actor he has worked for the Human Race Theatre, the Colorado, Illinois and Oxford Shakespeare Festivals, South Coast Repertory, Porthouse Theatre and CATCO. Television credits include Chapelle's Show andJudging Amy. His voice-over work includes the audio book of The Virginian. He produced and directed award-winning theatre while working in Los Angeles, at venues including the Raven Playhouse, Metropole Theatre Works and Elephant Stageworks. Directing credits also include Romeo and Juliet at Monomoy Theatre and Henry IV, Part One at Oxford Shakespeare Festival. Brian works professionally as a voice and dialect coach and as a fight choreographer. He is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework and a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors. At Ohio University he has directed productions such as Dutchman, Lysistrata, Savage/Loveand Brecht's Man Equals Man.

Steven Strafford

Steven Strafford (Youth)Steven Strafford is an actor and playwright originally from Brooklyn, NY. As an adult, he has called Chicago and NYC home. He currently resides in Athens, Ohio, where he is pursuing an MFA in Playwriting. He is the author and performer of the critically acclaimed, award-winning Methtacular! which he has performed across the country at LORT theaters, universities and LGBTQ spaces. Recently, the show was filmed at Steppenwolf Theatre’s 1700 Space. He is also the author of Small Jokes About Monsters which received productions in Houston (nominated for Houston Theatre Award for Outstanding New Play) Sioux City, and in Chicago at 16th Street Theater. It also had workshops at Portland Stage Company and at Route 66 Theater Company.  His play Mona Q: Age 38 received workshops with Route 66 Theatre Company and 16th Street Theater. His short plays, Use Your Noodles and The Breakup Playhave been produced a few times each. As an actor he has appeared on stage on Broadway, national tours, international tours; and at Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Portland Stage Company and other regional theaters across America. He has appeared in movies, on TV, and in national commercials. Methtacular! was  included in an anthology of solo plays from Opus Books. His essay, “College Dreams” was  published in the book, The Anatomy of Silence.

David Haugen

David Haugen (Avian) David Haugen: Film/TV: Claire in Motion, Lula Mae and Destiny, Trailerpark, Vision Quest, Law & Order, L&O CI, Ed. Theater: Cincinnati Playhouse, St. Louis Repertory, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Peterborough Players, Dorset Theater Festival. Orlando and New Jersey Shakespeare Festivals. 

Kate Scholl

Kate Scholl (Novice) Katherine Scholl has performed regionally at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival and Unseam’d Shakespeare Company.  Some New York Credits include: The Director’s Company, NY Theatre Alliance, Miranda Theater, and Blue Heron Arts Center. Katherine is a founding member of Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble. 

Shelley Delaney

Shelley Delaney (Mentor) Shelley Delaney heads the Performance Area at the Ohio University School of Theater, is Associate Artistic Director of Tantrum Theater, a founding member of Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble, and a proud member of Actors Equity Association, SAG/AFTRA and the National Alliance of Acting Teachers. Regional acting credits include McCarter Theatre, Bay Street, Cincinnati Playhouse, Victory Gardens, GeVa, Cleveland Play House, Capital Rep, Delaware Theatre Company, Virginia Stage, and PICT. New York: La Mama, the Ohio, EST, HERE, Circle Rep Lab. Her film work includes Radio Days, and the independent feature films: Departure, Claire in Motion, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and Hero Tomorrow. Recent professional directing credits include the world premiere of The Surrogate by Patricia Cotter at Centenary Stage, The Cake for Tantrum Theater, the developmental workshop of I, Custer for Tantrum East and the short film Truck Fishing in America

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Dr. William Condee and The College of Fine Arts Marketing team.

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Tantrum Theater is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.