Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kline Aid Besieged Belorussian Theater

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Stephen Spinella, Mandy Patinkin, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Kevin Kline, Linda Emond, Lily Rabe, Josh Hamilton, and Olympia Dukakis with the cast of the Belarus Free Theatre on Jan. 17, 2011 at the Public Theater in New York. The American performers read letters written by political prisoners in Belarus during a benefit performance of "Being Harold Pinter."

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Stephen Spinella, Mandy Patinkin, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Kevin Kline, Linda Emond, Lily Rabe, Josh Hamilton, and Olympia Dukakis with the cast of the Belarus Free Theatre on Jan. 17, 2011 at the Public Theater in New York. The American performers read letters written by political prisoners in Belarus during a benefit performance of "Being Harold Pinter." Close

Stephen Spinella, Mandy Patinkin, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Kevin Kline, Linda Emond, Lily Rabe, Josh Hamilton, and... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Tony Kushner and Linda Emond at a Jan. 17, 2011 benefit for Belarus Free Theatre presented by the Public Theater in New York. Kushner was a host of the event, and Emond was a guest reader in the Belarus Free Theater production of "Being Harold Pinter." Close

Tony Kushner and Linda Emond at a Jan. 17, 2011 benefit for Belarus Free Theatre presented by the Public Theater in... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Actor Stephen Spinella and Belarus Free Theatre co-founder Nikolai Khalezin at a benefit for Belarus Free Theatre held on Jan. 17, 2011 at the Public Theater in New York. Close

Actor Stephen Spinella and Belarus Free Theatre co-founder Nikolai Khalezin at a benefit for Belarus Free Theatre... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Actress Lily Rabe and Belarus Free Theatre co-founder Natalia Kaliada at a benefit for the Belarus Free Theatre on Jan. 17, 2011 at the Public Theater in New York. Rabe is currently starring in "The Merchant of Venice" on Broadway. Close

Actress Lily Rabe and Belarus Free Theatre co-founder Natalia Kaliada at a benefit for the Belarus Free Theatre on... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Playwright Tom Stoppard and Natalia Kaliada, general producer of Belarus Free Theatre, addressing patrons at a benefit for the theater company held at the Public Theater on Jan. 17, 2011 in New York. Kaliada spoke about her recent imprisonment in Belarus. Close

Playwright Tom Stoppard and Natalia Kaliada, general producer of Belarus Free Theatre, addressing patrons at a... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Actor Peter Hermann and Under the Radar festival producer Mark Russell at a Public Theater benefit for Free Belarus Theatre on Jan. 17, 2010 in New York. Hermann is set to appear in "War Horse" at Lincoln Center Theater this spring. Close

Actor Peter Hermann and Under the Radar festival producer Mark Russell at a Public Theater benefit for Free Belarus... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Laurie and Oskar Eustis at a Public Theater benefit for Free Belarus Theatre on Jan. 17, 2011 in New York. Oskar Eustis is artistic director of the Public. Close

Laurie and Oskar Eustis at a Public Theater benefit for Free Belarus Theatre on Jan. 17, 2011 in New York. Oskar... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Tioma Zhaziaznita, a Russian translator, with Belarus Free Theatre actors Maryna Yurevich and Dzianis Tarasenka, at a benefit performance of "Being Harold Pinter" on Jan. 17, 2011 at the Public Theater in New York. Close

Tioma Zhaziaznita, a Russian translator, with Belarus Free Theatre actors Maryna Yurevich and Dzianis Tarasenka, at a... Read More

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson convened yesterday in Manhattan for an evening of political theater as they read letters from imprisoned Belorussians.

The benefit at New York’s Public Theater was part of its acclaimed show “Being Harold Pinter,” which wrapped up a run at the Under the Radar Festival.

Amid protests in December in Minsk following a disputed presidential election, some members of the troupe were jailed and others went into hiding. They arrived in New York just in time for the run.

“Today we can’t move back, we’d get arrested,” said Nikolai Khalezin, co-founder of the company, at a reception featuring Polish dumplings and lemon poppy-seed cake.

Playwright Tony Kushner, who co-hosted the benefit, said the celebrity readers struck “exactly the right tone.”

“I was moved to tears the moment they changed hands with the theater troupe,” he said.

The gala raised $25,000 for Belarus Free Theatre.

Dzianis Tarasenka, an actor in the troupe, said that he enjoys the abundance of bodegas in New York and their soup offerings.

“It’s also great to be able to walk around without police watching us all the time,” he said.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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