Elena Popova was born on the 12th October 1947 in Legnitsa in Silesia, in the part of Germany that was ceded to Poland after the war. Her father was a war correspondent. She was three when he was transferred to Minsk. She has lived there all her life, except for her time at university. After high school she got involved with theatre, amateur drama and dancing. She started to write short stories early on but the theatre influenced her very strongly and she began to write plays; she did a playwriting course at the Gorky Institute of Literature and graduated in 1973. She went through various changes of job and career, but continued to write; writing has always been at the centre of her life.
In 1975 her play Victory Square came first in Belorussia and third in the Soviet Union in a competition for plays about contemporary youth. However, censorship meant that performance of the play was banned; it was only published ten years later in Teatr, the theatre magazine. Her theatrical debut was in 1978, with a production of the play Early Trains by the National Academy Theatre of Vitebsk. A Quiet Place was performed in St. Petersburg in the same year. She was admitted to the Writers’ Union. But life in the theatre was not simple. Few of her plays were performed, some were performed once, others closed or met with official disapproval. There were some successes, however, including Announcement in the Evening Paperat the Minsk Russian Theatre and Korytsin’s Life at the Yanki Kupali Belorussian Academy Theatre. With the advent of perestroika, her life as a playwright opened up.
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