Dissident Voices

Celebrating Writers

Next Live Date TBC

£5 In The Studio | Free Online

Produced and presented by The Cockpit in collaboration with PEN International.
With Peter Marinker and Kristin Milward.


A monthly program of readings giving voice to dissident writers, past and present.

In collaboration with PEN International. 

Next Live Performance TBC

Previous Readings:


Originally performed on Saturday 27 November 2021 in studio 1

Now available On Demand. 

On May 23rd 2021 two young journalists were arrested after a Ryanair plane was forced to land in Minsk.
On 3rd August:Vitaly Shishov, a young exiled Belarusian activist, was found hanged in a wood in Ukraine.
On September 6th Maria Kalesnikava, the woman with the radiant smile, who tore up her passport to prevent herself from being deported, was sentenced to eleven years in jail.  Even then, she smiled.
This is the story of contemporary Belarus; a 21st century European authoritarian state with a fondness for censorship and the brutal suppression of dissent.  


In March 2021 the Cockpit put on a reading of Insulted, Belarus  - which is available to watch further down this page.  Its writer is now under police protection far from home, after repeated death threats from Lugashenko's regime.
But it hasn't shut him up.  He's produced another piece of work, under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.  A collection of verbatim reports about what is really going on in Belarus,

"a collective confession of a nation that has been beaten, raped and insulted. These are the voices of victims of violence... Sometimes the truth requires nothing more than to be told."




INSULTED by Andrei Kureichik

English translation by Hon Freedman

First broadcast as a live stream on Saturday 26 March 2021 

Now available on demand

August 2020.  The streets of Minsk are teeming with protesters, as news gets out that the presidential elections have been rigged.

Thugs have been flown in from all over the ex Soviet Union, they're given free rein to do what they like to the protesters - terrorise, beat them to death, threaten gang rape.

A manicurist and a football hooligan meet in a prison van.
The President screams, "If you don't want Lugashenko, you'll get Putin!"
The woman standing against him asks of us all, "What are you willing to do for love?".

Andrei Kureichik wrote this play on the hoof, as events spread like wildfire in Belarus last summer.  It's a damning indictment of a repressive regime, where rigged elections are a commonplace and violence is currency.  The police lob grenades at the protesters, but they just keep on protesting...


Oldster (Lugashenko):  Peter Marinker
Youth (Lugashenko's teenage son, Kostya):  Tom Cawte
Novice (Svetlana Tikhonovskaya):  Polly Misch
Cheerful (Lena): Saffron Coomber
Avian (Roma):  Dikran Tulaine
Corpse (Nikita):  Sam Mac
Mentor (a teacher):  Kristin Milward
Directors: Kristin Milward and Oliver Senton


Please donate if you can. Your money goes to fund work - interesting, energetic, passionate theatre and music, which The Cockpit continues collaborating on - not just pay the standing charges on the phone bill. 50% of donations from this series will help promote literature and protect writers at risk through the work of PEN International too. Thank you!


PEN International

PEN International was founded in 1921. PEN was one of the world’s first international non-governmental organisations acknowledged by the United Nations and among the first international bodies advocating for human rights, particularly freedom of expression. From one founding Centre in London, PEN’s network of more than 140 Centres is now rooted in over 100 countries.

This year, PEN marks 100 years of delivering its mission. From its founding by writer and peace activist Catherine Dawson Scott in the wake of war through to the present day, PEN's goal remains the same: to foster tolerance and dialogue across cultures, languages and political affiliations, within and between nations. PEN is a voice for writers silenced in their own countries.

PEN is a worldwide voluntary movement and international charity that connects writers, human rights defenders, and community groups. For the past century, PEN International has successfully worked to celebrate literature, defend freedom of expression, protect writers at risk, support writers in exile, repeal attacks on women writers, and promote equal rights for language communities.

If you would like to learn more about PEN’s work, please do visit their website here. You can support writers globally by donating here too. Thank you for making a difference!

·         Day of the Imprisoned Writer: Every year on 15 November, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, PEN International calls for urgent international action to protect writers and journalists across the globe, who increasingly find themselves targeted for their peaceful free expression work. https://pen-international.org/protecting-writers-at-risk/day-of-the-impr...

·         Creative Witnesses brings together musicians and creative artists in support of writers who have been imprisoned, harassed, or put at risk because of their commitment to freedom of expression. https://pen-international.org/creative-witnesses-take-action-for-writers...
·         The PEN Award for Freedom of Expression is given in recognitions of writers’ significant contribution to freedom of expression around the world and as a distinction to writers and journalists committed to free speech despite the danger to their own lives. In 2021, The PEN Award for Freedom of Expression was awarded to award winning Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga. the https://pen-international.org/news/tsitsi-dangarembga-wins-the-pen-award...