New Kyiv Performance Depicts Kremlin’s Political Prisoners
In Kyiv, a new play called "Burning Doors" sheds light on the suffering of Oleg Sentsov and other political prisoners illegally held in Russia
In 2012 the activist was sentenced to two years in prison for protesting the regime of Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. In ‘The Burning Doors’ Mariya plays herself, reliving what she experienced in the Russian prison.
“One can call this a torture chamber on stage. Of course, when we put this performance together, there was no script, no lines written in advance. There were just those harsh moments from each of the three stories. Because it is through those that we can convey what freedom means, what the lack of freedom means, and what pain means,” Alyokhina said.
The second story is about the Russian protest performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky. He was pursued by the Russian authorities for his highly provocative acts for years and was eventually forced to seek political asylum in France.
The 3rd story is that of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was arrested in his native Crimea by the Russian occupation authorities and sentenced on fabricated charges of terrorism to 20 years in the Siberian colony. According to the creators, this part of the play is almost entirely wordless and aims to depict physical pressure exerted on an artist by the totalitarian regime.
“There is an excerpt of his final word from the trial, but in general it is a purely physical performance, through which we want to tell his story. It is a completely fresh look on his story,” Nikolai Khalezin, the director of Belarusian Free Theater said.
Over the past three years, the play has been showcased in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, as well as other countries.
The New York Times has dubbed it one of the three major performances of 2017.
During the play, activists called for the release of Sentsov as well as other political prisoners still being held.
“We understand that we influence not only art, which we are very happy about. We also have influence over the political processes with this performance. When parliaments of different countries begin to put pressure on Putin. Me and Nikolai are from Belarus, where the dictatorship has lasted for 24 years. Our friends are killed and kidnapped, we do not want this to happen in Ukraine,” Nataliya Kalyada, the artistic director of the Belarusian Free Theater said.
‘The Burning Doors’ will premier in Ukraine for the first time. Andriy Hlyvnyuk who is a member of Ukrainian pop group Boombox helped bring the performance to Ukraine. The group worked on the soundtrack for the play.