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Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kline Aid Besieged Belorussian Theater

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Laurie and Oskar Eustis
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. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- 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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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