La MAMA Theatre Club is KNOWN for its experimental theatre, and it fearlessness at creating work that is through-provoking and even uncomfortable. You do not go to LA MAMA expecting an exuberant experience of glitz, glamor, and theatrical gimmicks. This is the place you go when you want to go socially deeper into humanity workings. I state this because until October 22 Belarus Free Theatre is presenting one of the most intense plays you will see: Burning Doors.
It is hard to describe this near two hour play, without intermission. Directed and written by Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin based off the harrowing testimony of activist and actress, Maria Alyokhina. If you did not know Maria is a member of the Russian punk-pop group and human rights advocates, Pussy Riot, who were arrested and placed in a torturous cell after a protest at a church against Putin. Burning Doors is chopped scenes of symbolic and literal proportions, of which Maria an Co. are water-boarded, hit, undressed till nude, yelled at, and even pushed around by multiple people in reference to the similar episodes she faced in jail. There is not much fluidity to Burning Doors. Instead is a series of scenes reflective and critical of how society defines things such as freedom, intellectualism, and “us vs them”. Overall, it is not an easy watch nor a quiet one, but it was never meant to be. From buzzing to booming baselines to screeching yells, this play could be associated with the likes of Milton’s Paradise Lost or Dante’s Inferno. There is a hellish, seedy quality to its black and white violence, and philosophical quotes taken from actual testimonies of arrested activists and torture victims from Putin’s Regime. Their words are deeply impactful and show how still in resilience a soul can body even when its body is being moved to the brink. I walked with a whole new respect and knowledge of the weight of torture, and the admiration we should all have for those brave enough to speak against governmental atrocity. In a time, when Russia-gate is a dark cloud over our country, Burning Doors reminds us how horrible Putin truly is, of which Alyokhina approaches her own story with ferocity and fearlessness.
From writing to acting, Burning Doors is CLEARLY about igniting resistance. In a Q & A integrated into the play, Alyokhina stated the importance of artists and everyday people to speak up and be unafraid. One of the most poignant notes from Burning Doors is Alyokhina’s assessment that in so desperately protecting ourselves from “getting hurt” and having our “stuff taken”, we find ourselves falling into doom. Our fear of losing makes us lose, which I had never thought of before Burning Doors. Yet, I am 100% positive that many came out with similar or different lessons. Burning Doors is for “the smart: who wish to become wise. For all the facts that we know of the many people Putin has gruesomely silenced, not enough of their spiritual motivations and assessments of their situation. Maria Alyokhina has been through unimaginable pains that she is still healing from, but they opened her mind to what matter for and within humanity. Thus, the title “burning doors” takes a symbolic note; if systemic violences are just social doors veiled as norms then we must burn them so that we can pass through to true freedom. Hence, this play’s ultimate message stands; no more should evil men dominate the good of people! For More Information On Burning Doors, which is playing at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club Click Here.
La Mama Theatre Club Is Located Located: 66 East 4th Street (btw Bowery & 2nd Ave) New York, NY 10003