The International Contest of Contemporary Drama (ICCD) was set up by Belarus Free Theatre to encourage new writing and to promote Belarusian cultural identity on an international stage with the participation of artists around Europe. Belarusian playwrights, banned within their own country but recognised for their work outside, have the opportunity to show their work in Belarus. It also includes the work of foreign playwrights in an international cultural context, and in which Belarus would have its place for the first time. The ICCD has produced playwrights such as Anna Yablonskaya, Aleksey Shcherbak, and Pavel Pryazhko – whose plays have been produced at the Royal Court Theatre – and brothers Mikhail and Vyatcheslav Durnenekov who have written for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The contest, one of the top three of its kind in central Europe, has enjoyed success since its conception in 2005, garnering critical acclaim, but was discontinued in 2010 due to a lack of funds. 2014 is the first year it has been held in a free country. In previous years it was held underground in Belarus, hidden from the authorities. BFT have now reinstated this contest, and increased the diversity of participants in order to include Belarusians who remain isolated because of the state policy on internet censorship and media control. This publication is dedicated to promoting the works of the winning playwrights, and is published to coincide with an award ceremony at the Young Vic Theatre in London.
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In 2014, BFT received 523 submissions from 12 participating countries: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, USA, Germany, UK, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Estonia. The winning plays in this collection are in 3 main categories: Best Full-Length Play; Best Experimental Writing for Theatre/Short Play; Best Adaptation of a Classic Text; plus a special award, The Tom Stoppard Award for Best Debut.
The ICCD, and Belarus Free Theatre: New Plays from Central Europe, reconnects the Belarusian people with their independent artistic voice and their cultural identity within a European context.
This dual language edition (Russian and English) will be distributed free of charge within Belarus.