27 February 2024, Tuesday, 20:52
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Czech Company Spitfire Dedicates Their Performances To Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk

Czech Company Spitfire Dedicates Their Performances To Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk
PHOTOGRAPH: MURDO MACLEOD/THE GUARDIAN

The performance at the Festival in Edinburgh is inspired by the work of Nobel-winning Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich.

The Czech theatre company Spitfire performs at the Edinburgh International Festival with The Last of the Soviets. The performance is inspired by the work of the Belarusian writer and Nobel-winning Svetlana Aleksievich.

Every performance of the Czech company is dedicated to Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk, a Belarusian political prisoner and activist of the European Belarus Civil Campaign.

British theatre critic Mark Fisher praised the performance in his review for The Guardian:

“That seems only appropriate after a performance all about what can and cannot be said in a totalitarian regime. The unsettling production is inspired by the work of Nobel prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich.

PHOTOGRAPH: MURDO MACLEOD/THE GUARDIAN

Inga Mikshina-Zotova and Roman Mikshin-Zotov are Russian actors currently living in Prague. They play stony-faced newsreaders navigating truth and propaganda from behind a TV studio desk. It does not take long for their facade to crack, or their boosterism to give way to deathly dry gallows humour and violent outbursts. The more their jokes about Chernobyl victims get lost in translation, the more disturbing the reality seems. Roman Mikshin-Zotov decides one joke simply cannot be translated at all and stops trying, leaving only bleakness.

The viewer sees fragments of those terrible events that they describe in projected images on dinner plates in front of the announcers, while the heroes of the play are still trying to keep their professional poise. On the dark and surreal menu are ice-cube soldiers, blood-red caviar, spray-painted tanks and human hair, jelly and chicken, symbols of squandered human life.

“We want to support people who are not afraid to speak out loud,” says actor Inga Mikshina-Zotova at the end of the show.

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