The tradition of Belarusian theatre is very ancient. It has started in the early middle ages as folk puppet theatres - Batlejka - and folk drama (usually biblical and knighthood plots), played during different seasonal celebrations. In general all of the traditional Belarusian celebrations and games have a theatrical element. During such holidays as Kaliady, Kupalle, Maslianitsa - folks are dressing as fantastic animals and persons enacting different strange situations. Who would think for example of setting up a humorous burial and wake?!
Later this tradition was refined in a Renaissance Belarus which was at the time the cultural center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Multitude of the Belarusian cities had a Magdeburg Right with growing population of traders and craftsmen who needed entertainment. The powerful Belarusian gentry (magnats) had their own court theatres where Italian singers and French actors were invited to perform. For example at the height of its flourishing the Slonim Opera and Ballet Private Theatre of Ahinski aristocratic family had 300 performers! The ballet troop of Slonim theatre later served as a nucleus for a famous St. Petersburg Mariinski Theatre that started Russian school of ballet.
Today theatre is very popular in Belarus. I have been visiting the international theatrical festival in Hrodna ("Baltic Spring") and the theatres were completely sold out even during the hard times in which we are now!
Belarusian Theatre News
Free Theatre website - renown Belarusian underground theatre that has earned so many critical acclaims and is known quite well in Europe."Our Theatre" Belarusian theatrical web portal - theatrical news, schedules, announcements, etc.
Below are the links to pages on Belarusian Theatre:
The Yakub Kolas Academic Drama Theatre plays Belarusian repertoire
The National Academic Drama Theatre named after M.Gorky plays Russian repertoire
"Yavaryna" - the Early Theatre in Belarus
IV Minsk festival of mono-plays «Я» ("Me")
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