Even in the days of the USSR and one party state control, a small island of artistic freedom existed far away from Moscow in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.
Founded by a Russian Jew, Mark Weil, the Ilkhom Theatre was independent and proud of it.
As the post-independence regime in Tashkent hardened its line Weil refused to compromise and continued to challenge the authorities with his work.
Last year he was stabbed to death in the street. Natalia Antelava asks if this radical endeavour can survive without its director in such a repressive state?
BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 1102 BST. It was repeated on Monday, 7 April 2008 at 2030 BST.
Reporter: Natalia Antelava
Producer: Geoff Adams-Spink