Best improvised communal response to tyranny

The Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Northwestern University, and the League of Chicago Theatres hosting the Belarus Free Theatre

In December, the government of Belarus held what it called an election and pretty much everybody else called a travesty. The man known as Europe's last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, managed to squeak back into the presidency with just under 80 percent of the vote. Mass protests were violently put down, and hundreds of Belarusans—including opposition candidates—were arrested. Members of an underground ensemble called the Belarus Free Theater kept a date to perform at New York's Under the Radar Festival by sneaking out of Belarus in small groups. Trouble was, they couldn't simply go home afterward. The Goodman and Chicago Shakespeare theaters, Northwestern University, and the League of Chicago Theatres got together and invited the BFT to perform in Chicago. The company spent most of February here, performing Being Harold Pinter, which combines excerpts from the Nobel laureate's writings with statements by Belarusan political prisoners and a no-holds-barred physicality. Never mind bringing us a great show: the four organizations' quick action sent a potent message of solidarity and bought time that may have saved lives. —Tony Adler