Lyceum stages Narodny Album in Warsaw

Nearly 30 students have been enrolled at the underground Jakub Kolas Humanities Lyceum in Minsk. The lyceum was shut down by the Belarus’s education ministry in 2003, but it has not suspended operations. Today, it is simply called The Lyceum, while students describe it as a “partisan school”.

In Belarus, the lyceum operates as a clandestine organization. But even in these conditions, it has recruited more students than in the previous years. Uladzimir Kolas, the founder and director, is confident that both the students and their parents will not regret their choice.

“None of our graduates has disappeared. All of them obtained an excellent education. Most of them have managed to get very good jobs,” he says.

Every year Poland provides spaces for this partisan school. This year, students and professors worked in Zakopany, Gdansk. Now they are in Warsaw. They will have their vacations in September.

While in every city, lyceum students staged Narodny Albom (People’s Album), a play by Liavon Volski and Mihal Anempadystaw.

“Narodny Albom is the epoch when the western Belarus was part of Poland where there was capitalism and certain freedoms. People had an opportunity to live in accordance with their personal views.

There was another Eastern Belarus, part of the Soviet Union where one could like Stalin only and where rivers of blood were running. People were brainwashed by utopian slogans.

This is what this play is about. We are bearing catastrophic moral and cultural losses, because this period was torn from our history or distorted. We need to restore the historic justice of this epoch,” Mr Kolas says.

“In October, we will come to Warsaw again. Together with youth theaters, we will stage Narodny Albom, where Polish actors will take part. We plan to perform this play at several theater festivals.

We have already been invited to take part at the Ethnic Minorities Festival in Gdansk and at several theater festivals in Warsaw. Polish director Mirek Dembinski has also agreed to produce a documentary film about our work on this play in Poland.

If this project receives interest, we will make a TV musical which will be screened at least by Belsat,” Mr Kolas says.

The play co-author Mihal Anempadystaw has not seen the new production yet.

“I support this project, although I have not seen the performance yet. This is the revival of student theaters, an old European tradition that also existed in Belarus. It feels good to me as an author that the lyceum students have picked Narodny Albom,” he said.