The Belarus Free Theatre stages a production of the novel by a Belarus writer Vladzimir Karatkevich at the Barbican

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Category Events, Town, Без категории
Date August 24 2023
Reading Time 3 min.

The Belarus Free Theatre stages a production of the novel by a Belarus writer Vladzimir Karatkevich at the Barbican

The Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) is returning to London with a production of the historical novel by a Belarus writer Vladzimir Karatkevich. The world premiere of King Stach’s Wild Hunt, staged by one of the bravest theatre companies in the world, will take place at the Barbican Centre this September. There are currently 4 performances scheduled between September 14-16.

In the production by the artistic directors of BFT Nikolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada, King Stakh’s Wild Hunt is presented as a dialogue between different art forms, in which opera, theatre and live music are intertwined. Such a multimedia approach was derived from the mutual desire of the whole team to tell about the events rooted in the history of Belarus and that have a strikingrelation to modern Europe and the indifference to cruelty.

This production features actors, opera singers and musicians from Belarus and Ukraine, many of whom have been forced to flee their homelands because of war or dictatorship. This is the BFT’s most ambitious artistic venture in its history, as well as a demonstration of moral solidarity between Belarusians and Ukrainians who speak out in absolute condemnation of the war in Ukraine. This production features a moving part by a composer Olga Podhajska, conducted by Vitaliy Alekseenok, with the principal roles sung by Ukrainian baritone Andriy Bondarenko and Ukrainian soprano Tamara Kalinkina.

King Stach’s Wild Hunt is one of the most popular novels by the outstanding Belarusian writer Vladzimir Karatkevich. Inspired by Eastern European folklore, it tells of the ghostly pursuit of a young heiress struck by an evil curse. Written in the summer of 1950, the story in the Belarusian language saw it publication only in 1964. The story is narrated by the main character, who is already 96 years old at the time. His narration is voiced by the late Andrei Kaliada, Natalia Kaliada’s father, and excerpts are taken from an audiobook he recorded back in 2009 based on the novel by Vladzimir Karatkevich.

The story itself begins in the late fall of 1888, when a young ethnographer, Andrei Belaretsky, sets out on a journey through the most remote parts of Belorussia. Caught in a storm, he is forced to take refuge in a vast castle called Swamp Spruces, home to the aristocratic Yanouskaya family. There, teenager Nadzea Yanouskaya tells Andrei that her family has been cursed for twenty generations and that she, as the last of her family, is tormented by visions of sudden and violent death. Andrei agrees to help Nadzea free herself from the ancient curse, but as he begins to unravel the mysteries of the Yanouskaya family, he too becomes the target of the Wild Hunt, murderous ghostly figures haunting the Marsh Firs estate. It’s up to Andrei to uncover the truth about these otherworldly hunters in order to spare Nadzea from a terrible fate and lift the curse that has hung over the noble family for so long.

According to the director, Natalia Kaliada, this production has been planned for many years. Her father, the late Andrei Kaliada, told her from childhood about the importance of Vladzimir Karatkevichs work, and not only because King Stakh’s Wild Huntbecame one of the most important Belarus works of the last century. Andrei Kaliada always realised the incredible relevance of this work, written more than half a century ago. Today, when Belarus is being held hostage by a permanent dictator and civilians are dying every day in the war in Ukraine, King Stakh’s Wild Hunt is meant to remind people all over Europe that the mistakes of the past have not yet been corrected and Eastern Europe needs worldwide support and solidarity more than ever.

The production is also interesting in that all dialogues and songs will be performed in Belarusian and subtitles will be provided for the English-speaking audience. Barbican is also inviting everyonefor a conversation with the BFT creative directors at a seminar before the evening performance on Saturday, September 16.

Tickets for the production and the workshop can be purchased visthe links below: