Session Title: Theatre, Economy and Communism in Eastern-European Performance

Co-conveners: Magda Romanska (Emerson College) and Dassia N. Posner (Northwestern University)

This working session invites papers that focus on the ways in which theatre and performance have been shaped by or have reacted against economic circumstances in Eastern Europe during the last century.

During the Communist era, Socialist theatres were state funded. For example, in Poland, “the communists privileged the Polish theatre, never stinting it money or other means. In the 1970s, these efforts bore fruit: the Polish theatre won world renown through Tadeusz Kantor’s Teatr Cricot-2, Jerzy Grotowski’s Polish Laboratory Theatre, and the work of various directors at Cracow’s Stary Teatr.” On one hand, this arrangement allowed for the development of some of the most groundbreaking theatrical works of the last century. On the other, however, this state funding was a contributing factor in the widespread censorship. Playwrights and actors learned to speak between the lines, using metaphors, symbols, body language, or sometimes just a wink of the eye to communicate anti-establishment sentiments to their audiences. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, followed by the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 limited or ended the state sponsorship of the theatres, leaving most of them to their own devices as far as the funding was concerned. During the Communist era, theatre, which was always entangled in one way or another in the political struggle, was suddenly found itself in an ideological and economic vacuum. The unexpected onslaught of political freedom, ironically, deprived the theatre of what for years had been essential to it: both its state funding and its political subtext.

We welcome papers that deal with any aspect of how theatre and performance have responded to economic environments in Eastern Europe during the last century. We aim to trace the multiple trajectories of theatrical expression in Eastern-European theatre and their international influence. Considering the influence of Eastern-European performance on Western Theatre, our hope is to encourage active interest in this area within the broader field of theatre research.

This is 3-hour working session.
• Papers (7-10 pages) will be distributed to session participants by October 1; group participants sould read and respond (on online wiki) to papers by Nov. 1 in order to facilitate online pre-conference discussions of each other’s work.
• Participants will present 5-minute abstracts of their papers during the session to help familiarize audience members with each project. This will be followed by a discussion of the themes raised in the papers, including suggestions for how to further develop those themes. The goal of the working group is to provide feedback and to develop thematically related, publishable articles/chapters.

Magda Romanska: ude.nosreme|aksnamor_adgam#ude.nosreme|aksnamor_adgam
Dassia N. Posner: moc.liamg|2aissad#moc.liamg|2aissad