The Worldwide Readings Project

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The Worldwide Readings Project was founded in September 2020, when Belarusian playwright Andrei Kureichik asked John Freedman if he would translate his play “Insulted. Belarus”, about the revolution in Minsk and “perhaps arrange a few readings”.  Two years later, the project had supported approximately close to 250 readings in 110 theaters in 32 countries and 22 languages.

Within hours of Russia invading Ukraine on 24 February 2022, theatres who had hosted readings of “Insulted. Belarus” began asking what they could do to support Ukraine.  Thus, the Worldwide Ukrainian Play Reading Project took off virtually overnight.  Over the first 13 months of the war, over 360 theaters in 30 countries have mounted readings and held fundraising
events for artists, theaters and other Ukrainians in need.

Moscow Nights Presents:
Voices of the New Belarus

by Andrei Kureichik, translated by John Freedman

In follow-up to its virtual staged reading of playwright Andrei Kureichik’s nationally acclaimed “Insulted. Belarus(sia)” in 2020, Moscow Nights collaborated with the exiled Belarusian playwright on International Theatre Day (March 27, 2023) with readings from several scenes of his newest work, “Voices of the New Belarus.” 

The emotional and provocative readings by New Orleans actors recount the continuing chaos and human rights violations in Belarus nearly three years after a protest began against Alexander Lukashenko’s fraudulent re-election as president. There are currently more than 3,000 recognized political prisoners in Belarus, most of them arrested for opposition to Lukashenko’s brutal dictatorship. 

“Voices of the New Belarus,” a documentary play, tells the stories of 16 current and former political prisoners ranging from journalists and IT technicians to a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and a world-renowned musician. The script is based on letters, interviews and other documents. 

Kureichik, who was visiting New Orleans as a guest of Tulane University, attended the reading. As a result, he invited Natasha Ramer to serve as associate director and four of the actors—Rachel Whitman-Groves, Casey Groves, Raymond Vrazel Jr. and Walter Dixson IV—to participate in a video art installation of the work presented at the 2023 Oslo Freedom Forum as part of The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) Art in Protest Program. 

“These are the voices of victims of violence, people who have suffered seriously. Their stories form a document, a document of historical significance,” says Kureichik, a Henry Hart Rice and World Fellow at Yale University in 2023. Fearing arrest, the playwright and director left his home in the fall of 2020 with only a backpack and his oldest child. He hasn’t seen his wife and other children since then. Kureichik received the 2020 Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament.

In working with Kureichik on both “Insulted. Belarus(sia)” and “Voices of the New Belarus,” Ramer says, “The world needs to know what is going on in a country where the people want freedom, justice, peace and respect.”

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Voices of the New Belarus | Moscow Nights