Screw the rules. I’m With The Banned

BBC Arts - I'm with the Banned

How do you stand up for free speech? 

Artists all over the world face exile for doing just that. So Belarus Free Theatre joined forces with The Space to help them fight the bans.

I'm with the Banned on stage

I’m with the Banned teamed free artists up with banished bands from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine for a one-time-only concert celebrating freedom.

For one extraordinary night, BFT joined forces with The Space and BBC Arts Online to live stream the show to people across the world.

Together, we gave music-lovers in the exiled acts’ home countries – and even Calais refugee camp ‘The Jungle’ – a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the artists their governments had banned, performing with free acts in the name of liberty.

Comedian Miles Jupp hosted the live show at London’s KOKO, where the likes of Dave Gilmour, Jeremy Irons, Neil Tennant, Viktoria Modesta and Kim Cattrall took to the stage with bands that have faced intimidation after speaking out for freedom – including Pussy Riot, Brutto and Boombox.

I'm with the Banned neon sign

Hundreds of thousands of people across the world watched the gig, and it was broadcast on news channels in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

It also launched BFT’s 10-year anniversary festival Staging a Revolution – two weeks of shows performed underground to highlight the censorship of artists in Belarus and other states without free speech.

About this artist

I’m With the Banned was created by Belarus Free Theatre (BFT), and staged at KOKO Camden in October 2015. It was live-streamed by BBC Arts Online with The Space supporting the live stream.

BFT creates, campaigns and educates for freedom of speech, social justice and human rights. It makes theatre out of real life – from the untold stories of people around the world to the company’s personal experiences of standing up for human rights – and presents deconstructions of classic works. Its campaigns and programmes encourage people to find their voices and engage with social and political issues.