Belarus Free Theatre announces the next Kitchen Revolution supper club, featuring Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen

On Tuesday 16 January, Belarus Free Theatre will host the next Kitchen Revolution Supper club, featuring celebrated Russian-American journalist and leading LGBT activist Masha Gessen. The evening will be chaired by Hazel Healey, Director of SpinWatch, and will also feature well-known news commentator Jamie Kelsey-Fry.

Kitchen Revolution is a series of evenings that combine supper and secrecy, all served with a dash of sedition. Guests will enjoy a feast of home-cooked Soviet food and wine served in a private house, including a selection of special Belarusian dishes to celebrate Old New Year, such as ‘herring in a fur coat’, a traditional layered salad made of finely chopped pickled herring, eggs, beetroot, carrots and potatoes.

The theme of this evening is ‘The uncertain future of democracy’. Provocateurs Masha and Jamie will lead guests in conversations about this increasingly beleaguered form of government, as we look back on a year dominated by Trump, Putin and Brexit, and forward to an uncertain future.

Masha Gessen is a Russian-American journalist and author who won the 2017 National Book Award, the highest literary honour in the United States, for the book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. She is also the author of the 2012 international bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and several other books. She is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a professor at Amherst College. Gessen lives in New York City.

In the dark days of the Soviet Union, dissidents and intellectuals would gather in each other’s homes to talk, argue and dream about one thing – freedom. These whispered conversations, which would have been deemed treasonous if held in public, ultimately coalesced into actions that helped overthrow the repressive Soviet system. This was nicknamed the ‘kitchen revolution’.

Decades later and a world away, Britain’s hard-won freedoms are being eroded, as too many of us sink into political apathy, and a stultifying conservatism envelops the creative arts. It’s time for a new and more public kitchen revolution, time to turn up the volume on the kitchen table whispers of the past, and to encourage everyone to consider how artists should respond when democracy comes under threat.

Natalia Kaliada said: “I spent my childhood under the Soviet regime, and I still remember my parents’ kitchen reverberating with the fierce whispers of dissent. Even when everything is suppressed, it is very difficult to crush that human desire to keep talking, to keep challenging lies, defending truth, and hoping for change. With Kitchen Revolution, we want to remind people how precious and important the freedom to speak really is, and to look at how we might start translating words into real action.” 

Belarus Free Theatre is one of the foremost refugee-led theatre companies in the UK and the only theatre in Europe banned by its government on political grounds. In April, the company was forced to postpone the premiere of a new show in Minsk, after several of its members were arrested or injured during crackdowns on democratic protests against Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarus Free Theatre presents Kitchen Revolution 
Theme: ‘The uncertain future of democracy’
Date: Tuesday 16 January 2018
Time: 7pm10pm
Location: E3

Guests will be given a meeting point, from where they will be escorted to the secret venue.

Price: £25 per head, including a feast of Soviet food and complimentary wine.

Booking: belarusfreetheatre.ritdns.co.uk/kitchenrevolution