Democracy with Natalia Kaliada


This week’s podcast episode is a very important one, so let’s get straight to it. Katherine and Paul speak to writer, human rights campaigner, political refugee, theatre-maker and ‘public enemy’ to Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus, Natalia Kaliada.

Natalia is a founding Co-Artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre, a collective of artists who use the power of theatre to fight for democracy in Belarus and oppose what’s known as ‘the last dictatorship in Europe’.

We hear about Natalia’s own experiences living a not-so-censored life under an oppressive regime. Including her exile to London and how she continues to fight the same fight her ancestors did (her grandfather survived German concentration camps and Soviet gulags before ever Alexander Lukashenko came to dictatorial rule in his beloved Belarus). Resistance is seemingly in her DNA.

Natalia shares the stories of the Belarus protesters, 15,000 of whom have been imprisoned, raped or killed by the Belarus government this year. We hear how theatre has helped some of them through their imprisonment and how Belarus Free Theatre continues to use art as a tool to take down the dictatorship.

Katherine and Paul reflect on the importance of this conversation and how now, more than ever, we need to stand with the people of Belarus; not just to demand democracy for them, but to actively protect democracy around the world for everyone.

Links, resources and episode timestamps (for all you skippers out there) below.



Natalia Kaliada is a founding Co-Artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre as well as a writer, human rights campaigner and producer and is one of the most outspoken critics of Belarus’s repressive regime.

Belarus Free Theatre was founded in 2005 in Europe’s last surviving dictatorship, by Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin. BFT’s performances take place in selected secret venues around Minsk with audiences alerted to their existence by text message or e-mail. Although forced to operate under cover within Belarus, the Theatre has travelled widely and has gained a growing international reputation. They continue to create exceptional theatre under near impossible conditions underground in Belarus. The company has found a home as associate artists of the Young Vic, London.

Natalia Kaliada has been detained, arrested without access to counsel and threatened with rape for her participation in peaceful rallies that were called “subversive” activities and “unstable elements” by the Belarusian authorities. After the tragic events in Belarus in 2010, she and her husband were smuggled out of Belarus and now live in exile in London.

Instagram: @belarusfreetheatre
Facebook: @belarusfreetheatre
Twitter: @BFreeTheatre



Support Belarus Free Theatre 

I’m with the Banned 

Ask your local MP to add “major scumbags” who support Lukashenko’s regime to a sanctions list so their assets will be frozen.



Belarus Free Theatre 

Ministry Of Counterculture

Who is long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko? 

Who is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya?

Alexander Lukashenko on Coronavirus 

Natalia on Bruatility 

Brutality in Belarus 

Belarus bans two opposition candidates

Balaklava Blues 

Balaklava Blues at Greenbelt 

Generation Jeans 

Being Harold Pinter 

Red Forest 

Discover Love 

Trash Cuisine 

Burning Doors 

Dogs of Europe  

Belarus: thousands protest against death of teacher in police custody 

Is Protest Art Just Propaganda? Or is All Art a Form of Protest? 


00:00 – Welcome to Somewhere To Believe In
01:00 – Introducing Natalia and the work do Belarus Free Theatre
05:36 – Natalia joins the conversation
06:44 – Natalia on Belarus Free Theatre
11:20 – Natalia on generations of resistance
16:12 – Natalia on a lifetime of fighting for democracy
21:50 – Natalia on western democracy and dictatorship
29:24 – Natalia on 2020 in Belarus
41:11 – Natalia on theatre as protest
49:07 – How to support Belarus Free Theatre
51:36 – Katherine and Paul reflect on the conversation with Natalia
1:05:40 – Coming up next week
1:06:09 – How to get in touch with us
1:06:56 – Thank you’s
1:07:29 – Hidden track


A huge thanks to the Greenbelt Volunteer Talks Team for all their hard work on editing this episode. Our podcast music is ‘I Can Change’ by Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires.