Video: ZOiS Forum

Belarus: The Power of Theatre, Photography and Public Opinion


The dramatic events in Belarus following the presidential elections of August 2020 were characterised by a high degree of bottom-up creativity. Even prior to this moment of mass mobilisation, Belarusian resistance drew on visual and theatrical means of political engagement, drawing attention to a state and society hidden from view.

This online ZOiS Forum took a closer look at the role of theatre in subverting authoritarian rule, both from inside and from without. Natalia Koliada, Founding Artistic Director of the Belarus Free Theatre, discussed the approach of the UK-based Belarus Free Theatre and how its role has changed with recent developments in Belarus. Documentary photographer Misha Friedman brought a visual perspective to the discussion about the politics of art, legacies and the moment of mass mobilization in August 2020. Gwendolyn Sasse, Director of the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) drew on a ZOiS survey conducted in late 2020 in order to contextualise the experiences and expectations of Belarusian society in the wake of the 2020 presidential elections.


  • Misha Friedman is a documentary photographer and and the co-author of „Two Women in Their Time: The Belarus Free Theatre and the Art of Resistance” (The New Press, December 2020).
  • Natalia Koliada is the Founding Artistic Director of the Belarus Free Theatre.
  • Gwendolyn Sasse is a political scientist and the research director of the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS)

The event is part of the series ZOiS Forum.

The ZOiS Forum brings together academic, artistic, and political perspectives on the issues driving Eastern Europe today. Our aim is to make the significance and variety of our region of research accessible to a broad audience. Readings, discussions, presentations, and film screenings take place once a month during the semester.