SEGAL TALKS: UKRAINE ON MY MIND with Belarus Free Theatre: Svetlana Sugako and Nicolai Khalezin

The Martin E. Segal Theater Center presented SEGAL TALKS with Belarus Free Theater’s Svetlana Sugako and Nicolai Khalezin livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network on Wednesday 23 March 2022 at 9 am PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 12 pm EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 4 pm GMT (London, UTC +0) / 17:00 CET (Berlin, UTC +1) / 18:00 EET (Kyiv, UTC +2) / 19:00 MSK (Minsk, UTC +3).

Join us for an urgent conversation with Belarusian artists Svetlana Sugako and Nicolai Khalezin about the horrific situation in Ukraine, especially for theater artists. The Segal Center speaks for the entire New York theater community in expressing solidarity with Ukrainian artists under siege; signaling outrage about the war crimes committed by Russia’s ongoing illegal invasion into the Ukraine.

Svetlana Sugako studied graphic design then music & choreography at Belarusian National University. She has been involved with Belarus Free Theater (BFT) in Minsk since its inception in 2005, and has been running the entire operation in Belarus since the Artistic Directors were forced into exile in 2011. Formally the production manager, Svetlana is an activist, musician , actor and is leading on a new campaign of BFT on LGBTQI rights. Sugako is featured in the book Two Women in Their Timeby photographer Misha Friedman and The New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen portraying Svetlana Sugako and Nadya Brodskaya as the power couple spearheading the day-to-day activities of the celebrated Belarus Free Theater in Minsk.​ In August 2020 longtime Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko won’t vote to seize his sixth term, despite widespread evidence of vote-rigging. The result sparked the largest protests that Belarus had seen in the decades​—as well as an first level of police brutality. Sugako and Brodskaya both went to the protests, and were quickly arrested. The pair were placed with 34 others in a cell designed for only four. They were also not given water or food for three days. ​Before the protests, the Belarus Free Theater had been one of the few dissenting voices in the country. Sugako believes that through its 16 years of activity, the theater played an essential role in keeping Belarus’ critical spirit alive, in turn contributing to recent wave of protests.

Nicolai Khalezin is the co-founding Artistic Director of Belarus Free Theater (BFT), an award-winning director, playwright, designer, educator, political campaigner and journalist. Prior to co-founding BFT in 2005, Nicolai was Editor-in-Chief of the leading social-political weekly newspapers in Belarus – Name, News and Our Freedom – all of which were shut down by the regime. Khalezin was the owner of the only contemporary art gallery in Minsk, which was also closed down by the authorities. His works were exhibited at the Istanbul Biennale, Milan Expo, in Rome, Berlin and at the Moscow Center of Contemporary Art. Nicolai served time in prison in Belarus for his involvement in political campaigns and was recognized as a Prisoner of Consciousness by Amnesty International. This experience inspired one of BFT’s most celebrated shows, Generation Jeans, an autobiographical duologue about rock music and resistance. Written, directed and performed by Nicolai Khalezin, with live music by DJ Laurel, Generation Jeans has been performed more than 100 times around the world to date, including at the home of President Vaclav Havel upon his invitation in 2008 and at the UK’s House of Commons together with BFT Trustee Jude Law in 2012. Further playwriting credits for BFT include Burning Doors, Master Had A Talking Sparrow, Discover Love, Trash Cuisine, Time of Womenall of which he also directed, and the adaptation of King Lear which was staged at the Globe to Globe Festival, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Nicolai is the co-founder of BFT’s theater laboratory, Fortinbras, the only independent arts school in Belarus.

The Segal Talk will be hosted and moderated by Frank HentschkerExecutive Director of The Segal Center.

About the SEGAL TALKS
The Segal Theater Center’s online conversation series SEGAL TALKS was created in March of 2020 after the abrupt closing of the Graduate Center for any kind of public activities due to Corona and the cancellation of the entire spring season. The SEGAL TALKS during The Time of Corona offered conversations on theater, performance and art during the pandemic featuring with more than 200 theater artists from over 50 countries. New York, US, and international theater artists, curators, writers, and academics talked daily during the week for one hour with Segal Center’s director, Frank Hentschker, about life and art in the Time of Corona and speak about challenges, sorrows, and hopes for the new Weltzustand— the State of the World. In the summer of 2021 Segal Talks continued to focus on Theater, Performance and The Political, the Segal Center’s 2023 New York International Festival of the Arts Project and the 2022 Center’s Public Park Project. During the pandemic The Segal Center was for a long period globally the only theater institution creating new, original, daily content for the global field of theater and performance five days a week. Currently the Center is preparing the 4th edition of the Segal Center’s global Film Festival on Theater and Performance.

SEGAL TALKS are free, open access, without ads will be live-streamed in English from Wednesday to Friday on HowlRound Theater Commons and on the Segal Center Facebook. This program is presented in collaboration with HowlRound Theater Commons, based at Emerson College. All SEGAL TALKS are archived on HowlRound, and on the Segal Center YouTube Channel.

Contact
Send us your questions during the live streaming at SegalTalks@gmail.com.
Contact mest@gc.cuny.edu for more information on SEGAL TALKS.
Contact Frank Hentschker at fhentschker@gc.cuny.edu for press information.
Follow us @segalcenter on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter

About The Martin E. Segal Theater Center
Originally founded in 1979 as the Center for Advanced Studies in Theater Arts (CASTA), the Martin E. Segal Theater Center was renamed in March of 1999 to recognize Martin E. Segal, one of New York City’s outstanding leaders of the arts. The Segal Center curates over thirty events throughout the Spring and Fall academic seasons, all free and open to the public. Dedicated to bridging the gap between the professional and academic theater communities, the Segal Center presents readings, performance, lectures, and artists and academics in conversation. In addition, the Segal Center presents three annual festivals (PRELUDE, PEN World Voices: International Pay Festival, and The Segal Center Film Festival on Theater and Performance) and publishes and maintains three open access online journals (Arab Stages, European Stages, and The Journal of American Drama and Theater). The Segal Center also publishes many volumes of plays in translation and is the leading publisher of plays from the Arab world. The Martin E. Segal Theater Center (MESTC) is a vital component of the Theater Program’s academic culture and creating in close collaboration a research nexus, focusing on dramaturgy, new media, and global theater. The Segal Center provides an intimate platform where both artists and theater professionals can actively participate with audiences to advance awareness and appreciation.

The Segal Team
Executive Director: Frank Hentschker
Associate Producers: Andie Lerner & Tanvi Shah

About The Graduate Center City University of New York, of which the Martin E. Segal Theater Center is an integral part, is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York (CUNY). An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than doctoral programs, as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to twenty-eight interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of social compilation, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns. Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, The Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events.

About HowlRound TV
HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based, peer-produced, open-access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world’s performing-arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and develop our knowledge commons collectively. Anyone can participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participation page. For any other queries, email tv@howlround.com or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal. View the video archive of past events.

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