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volume 31, no.

SEEP (ISSN # 104 7 -0019) is a publication of the Institute for Contemporary
East European Drama and Theatre under the auspices of the Martin E.
Segal Theatre Center. The Institute is at The City University of New York
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309. All
subscription requests and submissions should be addressed to Slavic and East
European Peiformance: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The City University of
New York Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309.
Daniel Gerould
Shari Perkins
Stephanie Vella
Dan Poston
Benjamin Gillespie
Edwin Wilson, Chair
Marvin Carlson Allen J. Kuharski Martha W Coigney Stuart Liebman
Leo Hecht Laurence Senelick Dasha Krijanskaia
SEEP has a liberal reprinting policy. Publications that desire to reproduce
materials that have appeared in SEEP may do so with the following provisions:
a.) permission to reprint the article must be requested from SEEP in writing
before the fact; b.) credit to SEEP must be given in the reprint; c.) two copies
of the publication in which the reprinted material has appeared must be furni shed
to SEEP immediately upon publication.
Daniel Gerould
Frank Hentschker
Jan Stenzel
Slavic and East E uropean Performance is supported by a generous grant from the
Lucille Lortel Chair in Theatre of the Ph.D. Program in Theatre
at The City University of New York.
Copyright 2011
Slavic and East European Perjom1ance VoL 31, No.2
Editorial Policy
From the Editor
Books Received
"Ukhoqyashchqya Natura in Russian-Language
Theatre of Moldova"
Olga Muratova
"Overflight Festival-Fifth International Theatre Festival
of the Mlaclinsko Theatre, Ljubljana, Slovenia-
May 25-June 3, 2011"
Christopher Olsen
"The Beginnings of Performance Art in Croatia
or From the High School Group Traveleri to
Gotovac Lying Nude on the Asphalt"
Suzana Marjanic
"Wyspiariskl's The Wedding. Three Case Studies"
Tony H. Lin
'"Why not make a celebration?': The US Premiere
of The Pig, or Vtidav Havel's Hunt for a Pig"
Donatella Galella
"The Cra?J Locomotive, by S. I. Witkiewicz,
Produced by Imaginary Beasts,
Boston Center for the Arts, April 1-16, 2011"
Samuel T. Shanks
" Influences and Developments in New Russian Drama:
Conversations with Olga Mukhina and Maksym Kurochkin
at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center"
Christopher Silsby
Slavic and East European Peiformance VoL 31, No. 2
Manuscripts in the following categories are solicited: articles of no
more than 2,500 words, performance and film reviews, and bibliographies.
Please bear in mind that all submissions must concern themselves with
contemporary materials on Slavic and East European theatre, drama, and film;
with new approaches to older materials in recently published works; or with
new performances of older plays. In other words, we welcome submissions
reviewing innovative performances of Gogol, but we cannot use original
articles discussing Gogol as a playwright.
Although we welcome translations of articles and reviews from
foreign publications, we do require copyright release statements. We will also
gladly publish announcements of special events and anything else that may be
of interest to our discipline. All submissions are refereed.
All submissions must be typed double-spaced and carefully proofread.
The Chicago Manual of Sryle should be followed. Transliterations should follow
the Library of Congress system. Articles should be submitted on computer
disk, as Word Documents for Windows and a hard copy of the article should
be included. Photographs are recommended for all reviews. All articles should
be sent to the attention of Slavic and East European Performance, cjo Martin E.
Segal Theatre Center, The City University of New York Graduate Center, 365
Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309. Submissions will be evaluated, and
authors will be notified after approximately four weeks.
You may obtain more information about Slavic and East European
Performance by visiting our website at http/ /web.gc.cuny.edu/metsc. E-mail
inquiries may be addressed to SEEP@gc.cuny.edu.
All Journals are available from ProQuest Information and Learning as
abstracts online via ProQuest information service and the
International Index to the Performing Arts.
All Journals are indexed in the MLA International Bibliography and are
members of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.
The net is cast wide in Volume 31, No.2 (Fall) 201 1 of SEEP, which
includes theatrical events and activities from Russia and five Eastern European
countries. In the first section of the issue, Olga MuratOva explores the Russian-
language theatre of Moldova, and Christopher Olsen surveys the offerings at
the 5th International Theatre Festival of the Mladinsko Theatre of Ljubljana,
The next two articles, under the rubric PAGES FROM THE PAST,
look back at the origins of current theatre practices. Suzana Marjanic traces
the beginnings of performance art in Croatia from the 1920s to the 1960s,
whereas Tony Lin discusses three case studies of the reception of Stanislaw
Wyspianski's The Wedding, ranging from the premiere in 1901 to a twenty-first
century reinterpretation.
In a final trio of reviews, Donatella Galella goes to an English-
language premiere in New York of a little-known Havel play about a pig roast at
which spectators were served pork sandwiches. Samuel Shanks takes a wild ride
aboard \X'itkiewicz's Crazy Locomotive presented by Imaginary Beasts in Boston,
and Christopher Silsby reports on the appearances of Russian playwrights
Olga Mukhina and Maksym Kurochkin at two staged readings at the Martin
E. Segal Theatre Center here at the Graduate Center of the City University of
New York.
As I explained in my comments in Volume 30, No.3 (Fall2010), due
to new regulations governing student fellowships, SEEP must now change
its editorial staff every year. With this issue, Shari Perkins becomes Senior
Editorial Advisor, Stephanie Vella takes over the position of Managing Editor,
and Dan Poston assumes the role of Assistant Editor.
Slavic and East European Performance VoL 31, No.2
New York City:
The Museum of Russian Art presented a special staged reading of
Chekhov's Three Sisters, directed by Obie award winner Lisa Peterson. The
evening was hosted by Olympia Dukakis and the Russian writer Tatiana
Tolstaya, who is currently working on a translation of Three Sisters for the
HERO Theatre in New York. The event took place at the Baryshnikov Art
Center on August 8.
Untitled Theater Company #61 presented the English language US
premiere of Vaclav Havel's The Pig, or Vriclav .Havel's Hunt for a Pig. Directed
by Henry Akona, the evening featured a zab(jafka feast and music from The
Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana. The performance was hosted by the 3LD
Art & Tech. Center from June 29 to July 2.
Steps Theatre presented No dqy, no month, no year, a new production
based on Gogol's "The Diary of a Madman." Adaptor and director Slava
Stepnov led a four-person cast in performances at the Philip Coltoff Center in
Greenwich Village from June 16 to June 25.
New York's Chaverim Theater brought their Pfqying Chekhov to the
Connelly Theater for four additional performances June 2-5. The play was
directed by Gari Cherhnyakhovsky in Russian with English subtitles. The
company performed the show again at the Jewish Community Center on
December 3.
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre revived their Johannes
Dokchtor Faust, translated and directed by Vit Horejs. The puppet production
was staged at the Czech Center on June 5.
Untitled Theater Company #61 presented two short plays by Vaclav
Havel at the Czech Center on June 15, Hitchhikers and Motormorphosis.
Leos Janacek's opera, The Cunning Little Vixen, received its Philharmonic
premiere at Avery Fisher Hall from June 22 to 25. Alan Gilbert conducted a
production directed by Douglas Fitch.
The Galapagos Arts Space in DUMBO presented CCCP Kaputsnik!A
retro-Soviet cabaret on September 30.
The UK premiere of :N1ieczyslaw Weinberg's acclaimed opera
The Passenger was directed by David Pountney with Sir Richard Armstrog
conducting a cast that included Kim Begley, Michelle Breedt, and Giselle Allen.
The opera, which first appeared at the Bregenz Festival in 2010, is based on the
real-life experience of Holocaust survivor Zofia Posmysz. The ENO London
Coliseum hosted performances on September 19 to October 25.
New York City:
Master graduates of the Moscow Art Theatre School acting program
gave a six-week professional acting workshop at the Baryshnikov Art Center
from October 18 to November 29.
The cultural center at the Shorefront YM-YWHA and Brooklyn
Philharmonic celebrated iconic Soviet emigre writer Sergei Dovlatov's 70th
birthday by co-producing a special event titled ''A Life is Too Short ... " The
evening of literature, music, and documentary images dedicated tO Sergei
Dovlatov was conducted in Russian on October 30.
"Everyday Fragments," the fust solo US exhibition by the i m i ~ o r
based collective h.arta group (Maria Crista, A.nca Gyemant, and Rodica Tache),
explored the question of "What does it mean to be a feminist in the context
of global capitalism?" The exhibit at Ludlow 38 was up from November 2 to
December 11.
8 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No. 2
"Chernobyl Songs Project: Living Culture from a Lost World" featured
folksongs and ballads collected by Ukrainian ethnomusicologist Yevhen
Yefremov before 1986 from the Chernobyl zone, revived and reinterpreted by
the singing group Hilka. The concert took place at the Ukrainian museum on
December 2.
The Lezginka State Dance Company of Dagestan performed an all-
new program titled "Dances of our Region," directed and choreographed by
Zulumkhan Khanghereiev. The Tribeca Performing Arts Center hosted the
program on October 22.
"New Polish Theatre: An Evening with Director Krzysztof
Garbaczewski and Playwright Marcin Cecko" featured a discussion with the
two artists as well as a reading in English of excerpts from The Sexual Life
of Savages. The event took place at the Martin E. Segal Center of the CUNY
Graduate Center on October 24.
Playwright and novelist Zachary Karabashl.iev discussed his work,
issues of translation, and the challenges facing Bulgarian theatre in an evening
that also featured performances of excerpts from two of his plays, Sunday
Evening (2006) and Lissabon (2010). The Martin E. Segal Center of the CUNY
Graduate Center hosted the program on November 21.
Elsewhere in the USA:
Matei Viniec gave two lectures at Arizona State University on
November 9 and 10 on "How to Become a Good Writer in a Foreign
Language" and "Metaphor and Political Theatre." Proceeding the days of his
lectures, Drago Pop (National Theatre in Cluj-Napoca, Romania) performed
one of his most successful plays, Pockets Full of Bread on November 5 and 6.
The International University Global Theatre Experience hosted
an International Directing Lab under the direction of Sergei Ostrenko. The
intensive workshop featured practical training, lectures, and discussions
to prepare participants work with actors in a multicultural, multilingual
environment. The Lab was hosted by Leitring bei Leibnitz, Austria from July
11 to 16.
Observers were invited to participate in an installation by Izabella
Kay entitled Participating Presence. Kay's work was featured at The Gallery in
Cork Street on September 19 to 24.
Elsewhere in the UK:
The Poznan-based Body Snatchers Theatre presented two parades,
Cyclists and Parade of Funtry Faces, at City Beach and Priory Park in Southend-
on-Sea on September 3 and 4, respectively.
Polish theatre company Teatr Zar gave a performance demonstration
and workshop in Stratford-upon-Avon. The workshop, called "Flesh of
Sound," focused on voice and several songs belonging to different Caucasian
traditions. It was held at the Arden Street Rehearsal Rooms on September
17. The performance demonstration explored a new musical dramaturgy
based on different forms of traditional chanting (from the Caucasus, Greece,
Corsica, Sardinia) confronted with the world of Shakespearian speech. The
demonstration was given at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on September 18.
Local(eyes) an Eco-art Installation by London-based Polish artist
Mila Lipowicz presented Sopot from the point of view of a cyclist. The newly
rebuilt waterfront pedestrian precinct in Southend played host to the interactive
video installation from August 26 to September 3.
Mario Biagini of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas
Richards served as the artist-in-residence for the annual Summer Insitute in
Theatre Studies at York University. The course consisted of four seminars
followed by ten daily ail-day work sessions from July 21 to July 31. In the
10 Slavic and East European Peiformance VoL 31, No.2
evenings of the final three days of the work sessions, the public was invited to
screenings of the Workcenter's previous productions as well as a roundtable
between Biagini and current Workcenter members.
New York City:
The 4'h Annual Russian Documentary Film Festival in New York
opened with Marina Razbezhkina's The Weather Outside is Beautiful and featured
one day of films about prominent figures in modern Russian culture and
another day dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust and the Gulags. T he
screenings and events were held at Tribeca Cinemas from September 30 to
October 2.
Andrei Ujica was present for a retrospective of his work held at
the Museum of the Moving Image. Three of his genre-breaking ftlms were
showcased: Videograms of a Revolution, Out of the Present, and The A utobiography
of Nicolae Ceaurescu. The films were shown on October 1 and 2 with Ujica
speaking on the latter date.
The 6'h Annual Romanian Film Festival returned to New York from
November 30 to December 4. The Film Society of Lincoln Center played host.
Among the films screened were:
Morgen, Marian Crisan, 2010
Adalbert's Dream, Gabriel Adum, 2011
Diggingfor Life, Pavel Cuzuioc, 2011
Hello! How Are You?, Alexandru Maftei, 2010
Kapitalism: Our Improved Formula, Alexandru Solomon, 201 0
Loverbqy, Catiilin Mitulescu, 2011
Our School, Mona Nicoara and Miruna Coca-Cozma, 2011
Outbound, Bogdan George Apetri, 2010
Principles of Life, Constantin Popescu, 2010
Red Gloves, Manui Roii, 2010
Stuff and Dough, Crisci Puiu, 2001
Radu Muntean Retrospective:
The Rage, 2003
The Paper Will be Blue, 2006
Boogie, 2008
TuesdtfY, After Christmas, 201 0
Visiting Room, 2011
Liviu Ciulei Retrospective
Eruption, 1957
The Danube Waves, 1959
The Forest of the Hanged, 1964
The Ukrainian Museum hosted a screening of Ivan Kravchyshyn's
2007 film Prorvemos! The film, in Ukrainian and some Russian with English
subtitles, was introduced by Damian Kolodly on June 10.
Thomas Richards hosted a screening of Action in Vallicelle followed by
a discussion at The Poet's Den Gallery and Theater on October 15.
Kinofest NYC and the Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University
12 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 31, No. 2
hosted an evening of Ukrainian Film Shorts at the Ukrainian Institute of
America on October 15.
BAMcinematek and the Jim Henson Foundation presented The Story
of Fenist, written and directed by Yelena Demikovsky. The 48-minute film
chronicles the life of Russian puppeteer Igor Fokin. BAM hosted the screening
on November 30.
As part of Performa 11, the Martin E. Segal Center of the CUNY
Graduate Center hosted a screening of Mel Gordon and Alma Law's 1981
reconstruction of Vsevolod Meyerhold's 1922 staging of The Magnanimous
Cuckold. Daniel Gerould and Mel Gordon led a discussion following the
screening on November 14.
A "Sci-Fi extravaganza" celebrated Polish Sci-Fi author Stanislaw
Lem and the book launch of Lemistry: A Celebration of the Work of Stanislaw Lem.
A discussion with filmmaker Ari Folman and writers John Gray, Toby Litt, and
Wojciech Orliriski was followed by a screening of the Lem-inspired Maska by
the Brothers Quay. The event took place at the British Library Conference
Center on September 9.
Elsewhere in the UK:
A free evening featuring recent Polish short films was hosted by the
East 15 Acting School in Southend-on-Sea on September 2.
IUGTE and ArtUniverse announced scholarships for the
International Performance Project 2011-2012, an opportunity to take part in
a performance project in a Russian repertory theatre together with Russian
actors and performers from different countries. Practical sessions will take
place in Italy and Russia. The scholarships are announced in four categories:
arts managers; dancers, actors of physical theatre, circus performers; actors of
musical theatre and vocalists; theatre directors; and video makers. For more
details on the scholarship application process and the course participation
conditions, please contact Alex Weller, Project Coordinator, at iugte.projects@
gmail.com stating the scholarship category in the subject line.
In SEEP 31.1 in Michal Cunderle's and Alexander Komlosi's article "Ivan
Vyskocil: A Life-Long Commitment to the Alternative," the final paragraph
should have read:
"It has been taught or integrated into the programs of a number of higher
educational institutions apart from its home at the Theatre Faculty of the
Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, including Charles University, Masaryk
University, the University of Southern Bohemia, Tomas Bata University, and
the Theatre Academy Helsinki."
Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No. 2
Dialog 7-8 (656-657) July-August 2011. 258 pages. Contains the following
features: "Schulz's Light," on Bruno Schulz's prose as an inspiration for
literature, drama, and film, and three plays about Schulz: Malgorzata Sikorska-
Miszczuk's Messiah, Bruno c h u l ~ Agneta Pleijel's Schulz Goes Kafka; and Alain
van Crugten's Bruno or the great here.ry; "Dreams of that time," The Treatise on
Tailors' Dummies, staged by Piotr Tomaszuk; dreams in Kantor's Theatre of
Death; heavenly spheres in Schulz's prose; "Mrozek," on the first volume of
the playwright's Diary; Death of the Lieutenant, Testarium, and Alpha re-read;
newly edited letters of Mrozek and Erwin Axer. Includes many other articles
and features, plus dozens of drawings, photographs, and illustrations.
Didaskalia, No. 105, ovember 2011. 132 pages. Contains 39 articles in the
following categories: Bad Memory, Versions, Forum, Lupa, Van Hove, Castorf,
Stage Design, Gardzieruce, Repertory, Opera, Festivals, Abroad, Theatre in
Books. Includes 43 photographs of performers, performances, and stage
HUNGARIAN THEATRE BULLETIN 2009. International Theatre
Institute, Hungarian Centre, 2009. 67 pages. Includes thirteen articles in the
following categories: The Context of Hungarian Theatre-making, Different
Ways: Without a Safety Net, Theatre Workshops in the Countryside, Theatre
Workshops in Budapest, and Personal Approaches.
HUNGARIAN THEATRE BULLETIN 2010. International Theatre
Institute, Hungarian Centre, 2010. 67 pages. Includes eleven articles in the
following categories: Hungarian Contemporary Drama, DunaPart Project,
Danube- From Bank to Bank-Personal Approaches of Dance and Theatre
critics (2008-2010), Hungarian Theatre Museum and Institute. Contains
excerpts from plays Virag Erdos, Laszlo Garaczi, Janos Hay, Peter Kirpati,
and Janos Terey, as well as five small photographs.
Grig (Peychev) and Mona (I\-iaryanchik) in The Star Without a Name,
directed by Petru Vutkarau, Chekhov Russian Drama Theatre, Chisinau, 2011
Slavic and East European Petjom1ance VoL 31, No. 2
Olga Muratova
Ukhodyashchqya natura (literally, "a film location that is about to
expire") is a Russian filmmaking term that means that a location chosen for
a particular scene is going to become unusable for shooting very soon. If, for
example, a scene should be shot in a snowy field, but spring is near and the
snow is melting, filmmakers need to hurry, as the location will soon become
unavailable. Ukhodyashchqya natura is also the title of a book by Mikhail Goler, a
Soviet-era Moldovan film director and theatre critic who immigrated to America
twenty years ago and currently resides and works in New York.
In Russian, the
term also means anything on the verge of extinction. Since Goler's book is
primarily conceived as a memoir of his life and work in Moldova, the term's
second, more general, meaning clearly shines through.
According to Goler,
Russian-language theatres in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, abundant and
flourishing during the Soviet era, have been on a steady decline since 1991, the
year of the Soviet Union's collapse. Moldova, one of the last republics to join
the USSR (in 1940), was also one of the first to leave and began phasing out
anything Russian, including the language, in favor of the country's Romanian
Of all the Russian or Russian-language theatres in Chisinau, only
one, the Chekhov Russian Drama Theatre, has survived. Incidentally, Mikhail
Goler's son, Evgeny, used to work there as a director during the Soviet era,
prior to his immigration to the United States. The company's current artistic
director, liya Shats, laments what he calls a rash decision to oust Russian
theatre, as the local theatre is not yet developed enough to fill the void.
Moldovan actors and directors had been taught in Moscow or St. Petersburg,
local acting schools, hastily created after the secession, were filled with Russian-
trained instructors who had to undergo a harsh transition to offering education
in Moldovan. Up to this day, according to Shats, Moldova has but a handful of
playwrights, the most prominent of whom, Ion Druta and Alexander Gelman,
had been writing in Russian before Moldova became independent. As a result,
choosing a repertory and casting actors proves to be a challenging slalom
between political flagpoles.
In April 2011, the Chekhov Theatre had three productions on the
boards: The Star without a Name (Steaua fdra nume), a play by Mihail Sebastian, a
Romanian playwright; Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, whose ending
featured an unexpected performance of joe, a Moldovan national line dance;
and a stage adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.
The production of Sebastian's The Star without a Name is a notable
attempt to satisfy the public's craving for Russian-language theatre while
bowing to the current political situation. Written in 1942 by a Romanian Jew
(born Iosif Hechter), this three-act drama is imbued with profound sadness
over the unattainable dream of a better life; it is also a political satire aimed at
fascist dictatorship (in August of 1940, the Romanian government passed an
anti-Semitic law, and The Star had to be published under a pseudonym). The
play is classified as a romantic comedy by the author and as a melodrama in
the theatre's playbill. In fact, The Star follows the familiar lines of Chekhov's
comedic dramas, where the first three acts are mirthful and deceptively light,
and the last one brings tears to the audience's eyes. This kinship was probably
what made Sebastian's play so appealing to Russians that it was translated fairly
quickly and, as early as 1956, was staged by GeorgyTovstonogov at the Bolshoi
Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg. In 1957, Maria Knebel at the Moscow Art
Theatre produced her own version, popularizing the drama for Muscovites and
putting it firmly on the boards of major theatres ever since. In 1978, :Mikhail
Kozakov shot and starred in a f!lm adaptation with the same title, which is well
known in Russia and Moldova to this day.
The action of the drama is set in a small out-of-the-way Romanian
town whose only attraction is a railway station, which most trains pass by
without stopping. Town folk, especially young girls, come to the station to
watch the passing trains and dream of beautiful faraway places that they will
never see. The life in the town runs along a rigid set of rules that people dare
not break. There is a certain tension, created by the conflict between people's
passions and the strict demand that everything stay uniform and regimented
and everyone obedient and faceless. The town dwellers are divided into those
who follow the rigid rules and those who police them. Spying, eavesdropping,
and informing is an everyday norm.
One night, local life is disturbed by the arrival of Mona, a glamorous
woman who is taken off a passing train for traveling without a ticket. Mona
spends the night under the roof of Marin Miroiu, a young schoolteacher. Miroiu
18 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No. 2
Mona (Maryanchik), I'vliroiu (Boyarkin), Mile Cucu (Chebotar), and Udrea (Andryushchenko) in The
Star Without a Name, directed by Petru Vutkarau, Chekhov Russian Drama Theatre, Chisinau, 2011
has just discovered a new star, which by act 3 he names after Mona. There is
a definite parallelism between Mona the star and Mona the character. Until
the end of act 2, the character is referred to as Stranger, and the star remains
unnamed. The young woman shines brightly in the rustic setting, but clearly
does not belong there, akin to a star from another galaxy. The character and
the star are given names at the same time, when Miroiu, who has claimed that
he does not believe in miracles and that the order of things cannot be changed,
falls in love with Mona, names his star after her, and proposes marriage by the
next morning. She welcomes his proposal, but the morning brings yet another
visitor to town: Grig, Mona's rich lover, tracks her down to bring her back
home. Breaking Miroiu's and her own heart, sending ripples down the quiet
life of all the town folk, Mona chooses practicality over a dream, a comfortable
monetary cushion over a life of passion and poverty. She leaves Miroiu and
goes back to her benefactor.
Sebastian methodically brings forth the idea that existence in this
small town, where public opinion is first created by rigid rules and regulations
and then becomes a watchdog, is a surrogate of living. Human artifice has
replaced the narural course of life. In act 1, Miroiu asks the Stationmaster
for the exact time and notes that the clock at the railway station is hopelessly
wrong. The Stationmaster is surprised to hear that anyone would need a clock
to tell the time when there is a train schedule that is very precise and accurate:
first a diesel train is scheduled to pass by and then a passenger train should
follow at exactly 6:45 p.m.
Time is only meaningful when measured by school bells or train
whistles. A train or a bell, therefore, cannot be late in the usual sense of the
term. Since bells and whistles are set as true indicators of time, they become
the norm, the standard against which everything else is measured. Life itself
becomes quantified when measured by what the town dwellers can glimpse
through the windows of the passing trains. Rich gamblers and their glamorous
concubines serve as a desirable integer, whereas anything less becomes its
fraction. By the same token, the dresses of glorious ladies and the attire of
stylish gentlemen are perceived as the norm, while the uniforms worn in town
are a substandard surrogate.
Miroiu's life companion is a little mouse who lives in his shabby
apartment and shares his passion for books. Miroiu is quite fond of his pet
friend, who does not judge and will never betray his confidence. Apparently,
Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No.2
the mouse is the teacher's most trusted confidant and knows more than Udrea,
Miroiu's colleague and sole human friend. This surrogate of friendship is
depicted as more liberating than human interaction.
In his version of The Star, Petru Vutkarau, the director of the current
Moldovan production, emphasizes the comedic component of Sebastian's play,
making all of his uniform-clad characters slightly grotesque and highly amusing:
the Stationmaster (Alexey Makevnin), Iachim (Dmitry Koev), Mademoiselle
Cucu (Zina Chebotar), and Zamfirescu (Marina Stashok) are very histrionic
and have distinct mannerisms that keep people laughing heartily until the last
scenes. Unlike Kozakov's popular movie, which downplays Sebastian's satire
on dictatorship, Vutkarau enhances this aspect of the original text.
Vutkarau also cleverly emphasizes Sebastian's relativising of the real
and the imaginary, the natural and the man-made. The door that separates the
Stationmaster's office is not really a door (nor is the gate to the teacher's yard
in acts 2 and 3 really a gate). It is a freestanding door-like contraption on a
wheeled platform, which, since there are no adjacent walls, can be moved in
any direction. When Mona (Vera Maryanchik) is trying to block the way of
the railway-station officials, she moves the door freely to the left and to the
right, anticipating their intended maneuvers. The same happens when Miroiu
(Gennady Boyarkin) is inspecting his new book on astronomy, whose price is
twice the size of his annual salary and which quickly becomes the talk of the
town: the door safeguards the teacher's privacy against his nosey colleague,
Mile Cucu, a stickler for the rules and regulations and a vociferous opponent of
frivolity of any kind. Adding an absurdist element to the production, Vutkarau
makes the actors bypass the door completely from time to time, underscoring
the relative nature of any man-created structure, including legal, social, or
government ones.
The existing order of things is man-imposed, but it can be more
powerful than any natural law that governs human life. However, as Vutkarau
shows, sometimes one cannot argue with mother nature. The director makes
the Stationmaster and Iachim, his subordinate, yell out orders as prescribed
by the regulations, even though the station is deserted, with no one present to
heed them. The mighty regulations demand that the chain of command should
be rigidly followed, and the Stationmaster's every order should be immediately
repeated by Iachim, passing it on to passengers and bystanders. At the same
time, Vutkarau portrays Iachim as perpetually drunk, falling asleep on his feet,
and understanding very little. In such a state, the laws of nature supersede
the prescribed protocol, no matter how strict and rigid, and Jachim comically
messes up most of the orders.
Miroiu, who has discovered a new star, subordinates his entire existence
to the romantic notion of his astronomical finding. He readily sacrifices simple
conveniences, such as having a functional shower, buying a second suit, or
getting a haircut, to save money for his precious books on celestial bodies.
Udrea (Yury Andryushchenko), a music teacher in the same school, has
composed a symphony for an orchestra that he will never have. His symphony
is finished, but the only way Udrea can present it to the world is by humming
it. Even if he could miraculously get strings, woodwind, and percussion for
his nonexistent orchestra, his symphony would still be impossible for the lack
of an uncommon and expensive instrument. Udrea's symphony calls for an
English horn, and the music teacher refuses to do without. He has been saving
money to buy one, but obviously his lifetime will not suffice to raise half the
required sum. Unlike Miroiu's, Udrea's dream is realized by the end of the play:
as a payoff for Mona, Grig (Pyotr Peychev) gives Udrea a check that covers the
cost of the instrument.
Miroiu finds his inspiration in a star that for now lives only in his head
(it has been discovered on paper, in pure theory, by complex mathematical
formulas and calculations) and Udrea derives his from music that only exists in
his mind. Mona's practical approach to life presents a sharp contrast to that of
the two schoolteachers. This kept woman glances at the sky not to contemplate
its stars, but to see if it is going to rain. She has no need for music if she can
have jewelry and pretty dresses to brighten her days. She calls hers a quality
life and looks at Miroiu's water can, which he uses instead of a shower as a
means of bathing, with amusement and disgust. Miroiu, who chooses to keep
mending his old socks instead of buying a new pair, proclaims Mona's a joyless
existence and pities her. He teaches her to enjoy little but priceless things, such
as fmding beauty in wild flowers instead of expensive pearls or splashing cold
water from a well on her face to freshen up in the morning instead of taking
a lavender-scented bath at precisely 36.6C twice a day. For a brief moment,
Mona lives in a dream and is happy.
To show that dreaming is natural for humans, Vutkarau ft.lls the early-
morning scene with theatrical steam. Not only does it create a verisimilar effect
of morning fog, it also seeps into the auditorium, enveloping everybody in
Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 31, No.2
Miroiu (Boyarkin) in The Star Without a Name, directed by Pettu Vutkarau,
Chekhov Russian Drama Theatre, Chisinau, 2011
a dreamy haziness, and uniting Sebastian's characters, the theatre, actors, and
viewers under a generalizing conceptual umbrella. The vapor clears, and the
illusion of attainable happiness is over: harsh reality prevails. The dream-like
fog grants Udrea's wish. The music teacher will get his English horn. Miroiu's
dream, however, will forever remain unfulfilled. Several times in the course
of the play, the astronomer warns the audience that stars never change their
course and the system, the structure, always prevails, squashing all individuality
and uniqueness in the bud. Miroiu will never see Mona the woman or Mona the
star, but he will keep on dreaming about both. The play ends with the teacher
picking up his book and starting to read. The lights dim, and the stars on the
backdrop sky become very bright and shiny.
On April 16, 2011, when I saw The Star without a Name, the show
(incidentally, full house) ended with a long-lasting standing ovation. The last
remaining Russian-language theatrical oasis in Chisinau produced a wonder ful
dream for the public, after which its doors opened to let them out into a reality
that no longer has room for such theatre. A three-hour beautiful dream ended,
reminding the audience that it was nothing but ukhotfyashchqya natura.
1. Mikhail Goler, in discussion with the author in the writer's home in
Brooklyn, NY, April4, 2011.
2. Mikhail Goler, Ukhodyashchaya natura [Vanishing Nature) (United States: self-
published manuscript, 2009).
3. Ilya Shats, in discussion with the author in Chisinau at the Academy of
Music, Theatre, and Art, April15, 2011; and at the Chekhov Russian Drama Theatre,
April 16, 2011.
Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 31, No.2
Christopher Olsen
The Overflight Festival of the Mladinsko Theatre incorporated
modern images and contemporary styles of acting with older plays and
adaptations from novels and films. The worlds presented were filled with
anxiety-an almost nightmarish quality pervaded many of the productions-
but a lot of satirical humor with an occasional self-revelatory wink to the
audience was also an integral part. The festival showed that the Mlaclinsko
Theatre is truly European in its choice of productions (many of the plays came
from other countries), yet their style and content still had a Slavic flavor.
Founded in 1955 in Ljubljana, the Mladinsko Theatre was the first
professional theater aimed at children and youth. However, during the 1960s and
1970s, its first head, Balbina Battelino Baranovic, insisted that the theatre reach
a wider audience. She collaborated with many directors from Eastern Europe
and put the theatre on the map of European theatrical experimentation. She
was noted for her innovative staging, and she and her colleagues freely adapted
novels, stories, poems, and plays. Her work reflected the experimentation and
creative staging that swept across Europe during the 1970s and 1980s, as seen
in the work of such directors as Peter Brook, Peter Stein, Ariane :Mnouchkine,
and Jerzy Grotowski among many others. One can continue to see her influence
on Mladinsko Theatre's current season with its emphasis on stage adaptations
of novels and poems, and its focus on physical theatre.
Mladinsko Theatre now produces its work from a renovated theatre
space in a former factory in an old industrial area of the city. The theatre is
a ten-minute walk from the main train station and easily accessible by foot
or by public transportation. Mladinsko has demonstrated that when cultural
institutions move into a neighborhood, the neighborhood thrives.
The theme of the festival was the diva, an operatic term that can
suggest a self-absorbed, arrogant, and imperious nature on one hand and an
independent, original talent on the other. Sometimes a diva is both. The festival
presented a number of biographical plays about famous artists, including one
written by an actor in the company. The first-appropriately named Diva-
was created by Edvin Leveric, who presents the piece as a kind of narrator/
talk-show host. Using film footage in the background, Leveric presents
ftlm clips from a collage of film stars and suggests how their personas were
manufacrured by the Hollywood publiciry machine.
The production allows Leveric to comment on the actresses'
individual sryles and offer explanations as to why these talented women made
such personal sacrifices to satisfy their public. They had to conform to the
image given to them by their producers and agents; many of them had little
opportunity to show the range of their acting. Some embraced the artifice
and never lost their star power (e.g., Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford). Others
were defeated by it (Marilyn Monroe) or walked away from it (Grace Kelly and
Rita Hayworth). Sometimes Leveric- who is an accomplished mime-turned
himself into one of his divas with a simple gesture such as opening his shirt
and pulling it down below his shoulders like a coquettish ingenue or flirting
with an imaginary camera in the audience. These moments highlighted the
artifice of being a Hollywood diva.
Nijinsl:;y's Last Dance, by the American playwright Norman Allen,
is based on Nijinsky's notebooks written during his sanitarium stay over the
last twenty-five years of his life. The play reveals an artist who moves from
belligerence to bitterness to sadness. The one-man show begins with Nijinsky
hunched over on a platform and during the next hour or so the audience is
treated to an extended monologue about his life. The audience surrounds the
wooden set, which is made up of nothing more than platforms and a kind of
hole in the center from which he emerges and descends.
In the production directed by Marko Mlacnik, we see a Nijinsky who
is bitter, angry, triumphant, sad, contentious, and ironic as he tries to come
to grips with his deteriorating medical condition. The dancer is an older man
now who cannot stop himself from demanding that the audience empathize
with his terrible condition. He moves from one part of the set to another and
regales the audience with stories from his greatest triumphs (he even assumes
the iconic ballet poses from The Afternoon of a Fawn). These moments quickly
dissolve into harangues about how his life was manipulated and destroyed by
many people.
Primoz Bezjak, who portrays Nijinsky, is a strong actor with an
athletic body who captures the anger and frustration of an artist intent on
keeping his talents going. Although he does not really resemble Nijinsky at all
26 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No.2
Primoz Bezjak (Nijinsky) in Nijinsk:J's Last Dance, directed by Marko Mlacnik,
Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana, 2011
(Nijinsky was small and muscular rather than tall and gangly), the actor is quite
convincing when he starts railing against his mentor, Diaghilev. Imitating the
impresario's boisterous and demanding style, Bezjak captures the intensity and
manipulative nature of the man who caused such pain to his prized star.
Amado Mio, based on filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasotini's short
autobiographical novel, presents a young Pasolini (calling himself Desiderio)
exploring an early love affair with a teenage farm boy. Set at the end of World
War II, the play opens with two characters on a platform that functions as a
bed and becomes the symbol of their growing romantic relationship. Pasolini,
who often wrote about his guilt as a young homosexual man, focuses on the
repercussions of religious intolerance and social marginalization. Although
Desiderio is the more mature and experienced, he ftnds himself manipulated
by a younger, more liberated soul.
Adapted by Ivan Peternelj, who also directed and plays Desiderio, the
play seems to comment on itself by having the actors write their thoughts
out on chalkboards upstage or by dressing up in costumes to signify their
emotional states at the moment. At one point, the young boy puts on an animal
costume (perhaps a rabbit) and sings a song in order to distract the advances
of his amorous mate. Religious images on the walls of the stage-including
crucifixes and pieces of clothing hanging from hooks-may symbolize the
authoritarian presence of an unforgiving society. There appears to be a tug-
of-war going on within Desiderio's mind that pits his desire for the boy with
his guilt about giving in to temptation. The actors, Ivan Peternelj and Blaz Sef,
showed off their abilities as dancers and singers who seemed to be living in the
world of today rather than evoking a period in Italy when there was tittle room
for romance and when the torment of homosexual guilt dominated the young
Italian writer's life.
Finally, an interesting take on "divahood" was created and performed
by a longtime actress from the theatre, Marusa Geymayer-Oblak. Diva, Saint,
Mother, Bitch is a semi-autobiographical piece about her experiences as a
working actress over the last twenty-ftve years. The word diva in the title is
ironic because she does not consider herself a diva, and yet is often required to
play such roles. In an interview, Geymayer-Oblak said her inspiration for the
piece was her experience with demanding directors (mostly men) who tried to
mold her performances and prevented her from expanding her range of roles.
The actress mentioned that she was often cast in the role of the manipulative
28 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 31, No.2
Marusa Geymayer-Oblak in Diva, Saint; Mother, Bitch,
.Mlaclinsko Theatre, Ljubljana, 2011
Katarina Stegner (Oliver), Damjana Cerne, Zelco Hrs, Ivan Godnic, Olga Grad, Uros Macek (Ensemble)
in Oliver Tivist, directed by Matjaz Pograjc, Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana, 2011




"bitch" because of her strong demeanor. She believes that most actresses have
primarily four types of roles to fill: the sweet ingenue, the manipulative bitch,
the older maternal role, and the diva.
Geymayer-Oblak's play, however, is a humorous collage of scenes that
most actresses have to endure: auditioning for and satisfying a director's artistic
whims. She opens her play on a small, messy stage filled with stage props: a
rack of costumes, a vanity table, and a raised platform with a mike. Her co-star
is, in fact, the off-stage voice of her perfectionistic, sometimes tyrannical stage
director. During the play, she maintains a constant dialogue with the director,
who never appears on stage and functions only as a recorded voice. The voice
takes on a life of its own by demanding, cajoling, and belittling the increasingly
frustrated actress, who valiantly tries to satisfy his every need but cannot stop
herself from challenging his direction.
Geymayer-Oblak, a master of turning herself into a variety of acting
poses, can become a dominatrix with leather boots up to her thighs singing a
raunchy, seductive song at one moment and a Greek maiden groveling on the
floor begging for her life as she curls around a fellow actor's leg at another.
She is aided by two other actors, Mario Sambolec and Slavica Janosevic, who
play her compliant co-star and wardrobe mistress. Because the author of the
play is able not only to satirize the business of acting but her own indulgent
self, it allows the piece to operate on several levels-a slapstick comedy about
the ridiculous demands directors make on actors and a self-deprecating
homage to one actress's journey into her cluttered career. As for Geymayer-
Oblak, her years in mime and physical theatre along with her vast experience
playing all those kinds of roles for difficult directors has produced an amusing
autobiography of a hard-working actress as well as a comic biography for all
Oliver Twist, adapted by BlazkaMiiller Pograjc, is an example of an acting
ensemble bringing Dickens's novel to life. The last time I saw an adaptation of
a Dickens novel on stage was the 1981 Royal Shakespeare Company's The Life
and Adventures of Nicholas Nicklel:y, which required nearly eight hours of stage
time and forty actors playing multiple roles. This production turns the world of
Oliver Twist into gang warfare in a dark maze of catacombs where delinquent
pickpockets converge on their victims like vultures. The pickpockets, wearing
commedia masks, swoop in on Oliver and carry him away to Fagin's lair,
making their exits and entrances by sliding up and down poles like firefighters
in a firehouse.
The set is built as an arena with characters on platforms looking down
into a boxing ring representing the underbelly of nineteenth century London.
Matej Recer makes a particularly cruel Bill Sykes, and Ivan Paternelj's oily,
manipulative Fagin is a vivid incarnation of evil let loose on the streets. Although
director Matjaz Pograjc presents a nightmarish world and concentrates on the
viciousness of the main characters (including ample use of stage combat), he
does offer moments when Oliver receives warmth and attention from members
of his "adopted" family, including Mr. Brownlow, Mrs. Maylie, and her niece,
Rose. Every time Oliver climbs up a pole to the platforms above, it is an escape
from the city into the country. Oliver, played by actress Katarina Stegner, was
perhaps too mature for a boy in his early teens, but Uros Kaurin's playing Jack
Dawkins (the Artful Dodger) deftly captured the menace and cleverness of an
adolescent criminal trying to survive.
Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, adapted and directed by Slovenian
director Diego de Brea, placed its focus upon the main character's changing
state of mind as he ponders his ordeal of being a murderer of two women.
De Brea has created both a physical and mental prison on stage for Rodion
Romanovich Raskolnikov, who spends most his time trying to reconcile his
guilt with his desire to get away with murder. The main character maintains
an interior dialogue with himself, while the other characters move into his
space from the shadows on the periphery of the stage as the set transforms
into whatever scene is taking place. Raskolnikov meets a cross-section of
downtrodden people like himself including the family of Semyon Marmeladov,
an alcoholic public official and his wife and daughter, Katerina and Sonya.
De Brea has adroitly used the ensemble of actors to play multiple roles from
the novel and the characters appear and disappear on stage as if they were
emerging from a surreal painting. The actions are often presented symbolically
as when Sonya is abused by a group of men in top hats who eat pieces of a
watermelon placed between her legs. The murders are committed as a symbolic
execution, and the play features an evocative musical score by Silva ZupanCic.
The local magistrate, Porfiry Petrovich (in a nicely, understated performance by
Ivan Godnic), suspects that Raskolnikov is the murderer and eventually forces
him to confess and pay the price of imprisonment.
In Vampire, based on Marina Tsvetaeva's poem, The Swain, director
Ivica Buljan creates an allegory on stage by depicting a world where the spiritual
Slavic and East European Performance VoL 31, No. 2
Marinka Stern (Katerina Ivanovna), Matija Vasd (Raskolnikov), and Dario Varga (Svidrigailov) in
Crime and Punishment, directed by Diego de Brea, Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana, 2011
and natural worlds collide. Based on Russian folklore, the poem contains more
than a hint of the Dracula myth; the main character, Marusha, is transfixed by
the presence of a swain (a shepherd) whom she discovers devouring a corpse.
Her man-eating-lover-to-be tries to free her from his secret, but she refuses to
abandon him and becomes haunted by his presence. Even though she marries
a young count and has a child with him, she finally rejoins the world of her
vampire and proceeds on a trip with him towards eternal damnation. Director
Buljan effectively creates an eerie atmosphere that surrounds these doomed
souls from different worlds. The production relies on strong visual images,
such as the doomed couple's meetings on a pile of hay in a barn, the murder
of a family member on a kitchen table, and Marusha's turning into a tree. The
sudden changes from romantic escape to brutal killings give the production an
unnerving quality not unlike a fairy tale that ends up fatally for the protagonists.
The production features moments when characters break out into peasant
dances and songs, rare moments of joy in a countryside where there is much
suffering. Janja Majzelj and Primoz Bezjak ably project the intensity of the
Probably the most successful of all the productions I saw was the
satire Scandal in the Vallry of St. Florian by one of Slovenia's most famous
playwrights, Ivan Cankar (1876-1918), who had a distinguished career as a
satirist and comic writer during the early twentieth century. The play revolves
around an idealized little community, St. Florian, where everything is virtuous
and noble. Corruption, thievery, and murder do not exist. When the devil in
the form of an eccentric Frenchman decides to drop in and raise havoc, he
finds himself rebuffed and frustrated. It later turns out that that St. Florian
has a well-kept secret concerning the mayor's missing son. An intruder by the
name of Peter has broken into a house where the citizens are celebrating their
patriots' day claiming to be their son. In the meantime, the real son appears and
has trouble proving his identity while Peter's "muse," Jacinta (in a wonderfully
over-the-top performance by Uros Kaurin), plays the role of melodramatic
diva who demands constant attention. The devil is eventually foiled and the
truth comes out, even though the citizens are forced to admit they are not as
virtuous as they might think.
Cankar, who wrote the play in 1907, was well-known for making fun
of overzealous patriotism; his depiction of absurd, self-important characters
masquerading as model citizens recalls the satirical comedies of Friedrich
34 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 31, No. 2
Diirrenmatt and Jean Anouilh. The cast seemed to be having a great deal of
fun, and the director, Vito Taufer, spiced things up by casting the female roles
with men and making the male role of the devil a woman. The juxtaposition
of sexes added to the artificial nature of the characters and reinforced the
absurdity of this group of human beings.
The Mladinsko Theatre certainly benefits from having a stable of
actors who spend most of their careers at one theatre, a legacy from the old
Communist system that contributes to the success of the ensemble approach.
The theatre markets itself as experimental, and the productions chosen for the
festival reveal a desire to continue to stay at the cutting-edge. Ljubljana, only a
few hours from Venice and less than a day's drive to Vienna and Munich, is well
situated to be on the theatre festival tour of Eastern Europe.
1. Marusa Geymayer-Oblak, interview with the author, Ljubljana, Slovenia,
May 2011.
M81)M)8H MMKSq
e$eKT na ae$eKT9
Marijan Mikac, Effict on Defect (Efekt na defektu),
cover design by Jo Klek Oosip Seissel), Belgrade, 1923
Slavic and East European Peiformance VoL 31, No. 2
Suzana Marjanic
The subversive force of performance art in Croatia has its roots in
Dadaism and Zenithism-more specifically, in the provocative actions of
a group of Zagreb high school boys who called themselves Traveleri (the
Travellers) at the very beginning of the 1920s. On the streets of Zagreb,
the Traveleri would raise their hats in greeting to the horses and not to the
coachmen, this everyday gesture of provocation being defined by Marijan
Susovski as precisely Dadaist! I will focus here on three cases of the avant-
garde performance, pointing out that certain Zenith.ist and Dadaist evening
provocations can be seen as the first Croatian theoretical performances:
performance-cum-lecture practices interrogating the status of the world of
art, while at the same time requiring an engaged action and reaction from the
audience itself.
Mikac's Zenithist Propaganda Evenings
The Zenithist evenings of Marijan Mikac, which he held in 1923 in
Sisak, Topusko, and Petrinja, can be interpreted in light of recently published
correspondence between Mikac and the Zenith philosopher Ljubomir Micic
(the publication of which we owe to Vidosava Golubovic). In these letters,
Mikac described the Zenithist soirees in which he acquainted the visitors with
Zenithism and with his own production from the collectionE.fficton Deject(Eftkt
na defektu), published in 1923, with fragments from a novel, then unpublished,
Monkey Phenomenon (Fenomen majmun), actually published in 1925.
The lectures
of Mikac that were organized for the sake of the promotion of Zenithism
can be considered a Zenithist theoretical performance. For, as Branimir Donat
points out, Mikac, in the cities mentioned, organized Zenithist soirees in which
he familiarized the visitors with the journal Zenit and in general with avant-
garde trends, and also sold Zenithist publications and books by Micic.
The Dadaist Matinee in Osijek
We can also count as avant-garde theoretical performance the Dadaist
matinee that, by way of the collective appearance of a poetic and artistic group,
was created to produce an aesthetic provocation on August 20, 1922, in the
Royal Cinema in Osijek. This was the first Dada event in this area, organized
by the Dada forerunner Dragan Aleksic. On the same day, AleksiC sent a letter
to Tristan Tzara, from which we can learn that the matinee was held on Sunday
at 10:30, that eight more Dada-stars, as he called them, took part, and that they
produced "8 dramas with real-tricks."
The Zagreb High School Group Traveleri
The show They Are Coming can be taken as an example of Zenithist
theatre with elements of performance art (the breakthrough of reali!Y). It was
staged on December 16, 1922 in the gym hall of the 1st General-Curriculum
High School in Zagreb, by the previously mentioned Traveleri, whose leader,
the painter Josip Seissel, used the pseudonym Jo Klek in the Zenithist period.
Marijan Susovski opines that the most suitable adjective to give to this
performance is Dadaist because "it was conceived on the principle of the
Dadaist provocative collage" and of the Dada cabarets in which the writer
was both the actor and the director. The Dadaist show was structured as a
collage of different writings published in Zenit. It was composed of Marinetti's
drama of objects (text-{Jnthesis) TheyAre Coming, fragments of MiciC'sAerop!ane
with No Engine (Aeroplan bez motora), and poetry by Branko Ve Poljanski and
Ivan Goll.
It is worth mentioning that this performance, which the Traveleri
put on just before graduating from high school, was the first performance of
Marinetti's drama of objects (text-synthesis) outside of Italy.
Marijan Susovski calls this performance "our first 'happening"' which
ended with a live donkey being brought onto the stage
with one of the two characters on the stage asking where it had come
from, while the other replied that it had come from the audience,
after which the ass was led out of the theatre through the auditorium
where the high school teachers were sitting. For the teaching staff, the
donkey scene was the height of provocation and their pupils' avant-
garde follies, after which, the very next day, the actors were advised to
Slavic and East European Peifbrmance VoL J 1, No. 2

]o Klek Oossip Seissel), costume designs for Thry Are Coming by the Traveleri, Zagreb, 1922
complete their education elsewhere, and most of those who took part
were forced to finish their schooling in Belgrade.
This first Dada show ended by the high school headmaster calling in young
Seissel and others and saying, "Boys, better beat it."
The New Art Practice
The next major demonstration of performance art that resulted in its
initiation into Croatian visual culture took place at the end of the 1960s in the
period of conceptual art. In Croatian art history, this period is better known
as New Art Practice. The exhibition New Art Practice 1966-1978 was held at
the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb in 1978. The characteristics of
this movement can be summed up in the following definitions as formulated
by Natasa Ilic: emphasis on concept and playing down the values of skill of
execution, importance of process not product, taking issue with the role of
the work, the audience and the reaction of the public, work in differing media,
site-specific aspects, unconventional venues for events and exhibitions, and the
context of the everyday, impermanence, accumulation, discursiveness.
In this short survey, I can recall only a few of the prominent artists
in these beginnings of performance art in Croatia. Gorgona, an informal
grouping of authors (1959-1966), often held meetings in the form of strolls in
the environs of Zagreb, the occasion for which might be watching the sunset
or what they called "a committee inspection of the beginning of spring (or
Goran Trbuljak and Braco Dirnitrijevic worked as a pair known as
the Pensioner Tihomir SimCic Group, a nonfarm a! and fictive group, for a brief
period in 1969-1970. The Group of Six Artists [Authors] (Grupa sestorice
autora) consisted of Vlado Martek, Zeljko Jerman, Boris Demur, Mladen
Stilinovic, Sven Stilinovic, and Fedor Vucemilovic.
The TOK Group consisted
of Vladimir Gudac, Dubravko Budic, Davor Loncaric, Ivan Simunovic, Gustav
Zechel, and Darko Zubcevic, which worked from 1972-1973. Zeljko Borcic,
Boris Bucan, Vlasta Delimar, Vladimir Dodig Trokut (Trokut started working
inside the Red Peristyle group in Split), and Ladislav Galeta. Tom Gotovac
is celebrated in our art history as the first streaker in Europe; Gotovac's first
public denuding was known as Striking u centru glavnog grada-Trcar!fe go! u centru
Grada (Streaking), which means streaking in the capital and the center of the
Slavic and East European Performance Vol 31, No. 2
town, which he staged in Sremska Ulica in Belgrade in 1971. Mention should
also be made of Josip Pino Ivancic, Sanja lvekovic, Jagoda Kaloper, Zeljko
Kipke, Zlatko Kutnjak, Antun Maracic, Dalibor Martinis, Marijan Molnar,
Goran Petercol, Josip Stosic, Gorki Zuvela, and others. I apologise to those
who were not included in this list. As Jesa Denegri indicates in the catalogue
The New Art Practice 1966-1978 (ed. Marijan Susovski), the activity of the New
Art Practice in former Yugoslavia was extremely vigorous, and it was, even in
its own time, hard to register and catalogue it all.
The Happ Our-Happening
Happ Our-Happening (Happ naf-happening, April10, 1967) was the first
actionist and ritual performance, a staged mixture of happening and Fluxus,
the first processual action in this country, recorded in Croatian ar t history as
"the only happening that was designed with elements of destruction." It was
held in the Poetry Cellar of the Pavao Markovac Culture Society at Ilica 12,
Zagreb and its protagonists were Tornislav Gotovac, Ivo Lukas, Hrvoje Sercar,
and a photographic model. A remake of this actionist ritual event was repeated
a year later for the shooting of the flim An Accidental Life (Siufqjni Zjvol) by Ante
Peterlic, one scene of it being cut into the flim Plastic Jesus (Piasti[ni !sus, 1971)
by Lazar Stojanovic. The protagonists chose April 1 0-the day on which the
fascist Ustasha marionette state ISC (Independent State of Croatia) was set up
in 1941-as a deliberate act of provocation.
In 1967, they filled the basement room with thick clouds of incense,
placed an empty snail shell on every chair, and covered the floor of the room
with more shells. The beginning of the happ-performance was marked by the
song "Spring is Here" by Chris Connor, and two slides of a nude Plcrybqy model
were projected.
During this section of the show, the photographic model was supposed
to be naked (in the first version of the happening she refused to undress), and
she held a paper bag containing rice and sweets with rustling wrappers, thus
attempting to distract the attention of the audience from what was happening
on the stage. As well as a dresser, the stage contained instruments (harmonica,
violin, guitar), and cages in which there were four or five hens. Sercar, Lukas,
and Gotovac in dark suits and white shirts with ties strolled onto the stage,
opened bottles of milk, broke and ate bread, and drank milk. Next they took
42 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No. 2
two sledgehammers and a large axe and started reducing the dresser to small
pieces. This destruction was shocking to the audience of the time, as Gotovac
recalls. Then suddenly they stopped the smashing and started throwing paper
balls filled with feathers at the audience, who at once responded, took up the
balls, and started aiming them at the performers. The chief destroyers took
out the hens and threw them at the audience, and then the two sides began
throwing the animals back and forth at each other.
Next they started a raucous concert with the instruments, which they
did not know how to play, and the final act was meant to involve the slaughtering
of the hens. For it had been planned that their heads would be cut off with
the axe on a block, and since the wall was whitewashed, they wanted to smear
their hands in the hens' blood and leave their bloody fingerprints on the white
walls. Just as they were preparing for this final act, with its references to Action
Painting and the ritualism of the Vienna Actionists, someone turned off the
electricity Quckily for the hens, I have to add from my own ethical niche), as
a result of which in this horror and total darkness, the audience lit matches.
Since the audience did not know whether the blackout was a deliberate act or
not, both the public and performers stayed in the total darkness of wonder and
horror for fifteen minutes without anyone moving.
Red Peristyle
A year after this first processual action in Croatia, a group of Split
beats did their own first action. On the night between January 10 and 11, 1968,
they painted the stone floor of the late antiquity Peristyle, the main square
of Dioclerian's Palace in Split, red, and declared themselves the Red Peristyle
group. This action of painting the Peristyle red, as a protest against the general
state of culture in the country, ended with police arrests. Some people saw
in this, as Davor Maticevic recalls, "a procedure similar to the classic Dali
addition of moustaches to the Mona Lisa."
This group of beats (according
to the papers they were Pavle DulCie, Slaven Sumic, Radovan Kogej, and five
other unnamed youngsters, two of whom were students of the Education
College and the others from the Applied Arts School in Split) was attacked
in the subsequent newspaper reports: "Vandalism of group of youths-Red
Peristyle," "Split Peristyle painted red-Attack on Diocletian," and ~ f t e r
painting Split Peristyle red-no red faces."
Tomislav Gotovac, Lying naked on the asphalt, kissing the asphalt (Zagreb, l love youlj,
Hommage to Howard Hawks and his film Hatan; 1961, Zagreb, 1981






Lying Naked on the Asphalt, Kissing the Asphalt
The final year of the initiation of performance art in Croatia took place
in 1981 (here I am referring to the situation in conceptual art from the starting
point of the New Art Practice), when Tom Gotovac car ried out the performance
action (1Oth action-object) l;ying naked on the asphalt, kissing the asphalt.
now cult street action, in which he exhibited his naked body, was entitled in
full Lying Naked on the Asphalt, Kissing the Asphalt (Zagreb, I love )'OuO, Hommage
to Howard Hawks and his film Hatari, 1961. It was produced symbolically on
November 13 (Friday), precisely at noon as marked by the cannon that sounds
in the old town of Gric (in Zagreb).
Gotovac came out of the entrance into
the yard of Ilica 8, walked nude along Ilica and round Trg Republike (Republic
Square), and kissed the asphalt. The costume design was a naked body, shaved
head, shaved eyebrows and wristwatch. After he had declared "Zagreb, I love
you!" he lay down on the asphalt and kissed it, the inevitable sequel to which
was his being taken into police custody. The performance lasted seven minutes.
In Gotovac's words, the policeman who took him to the station announced
that he had arrested one "who was stark naked, walked round the Square
yelling 'Zagreb, I love you' and wasn't aggressive."
The Hawks ftlm told of hunters taking animals in Africa for zoos, and
started with an unsuccessful hunt for a rhino, which Gotovac used as a symbol
of the artist on the run from the police state. Several times, Gotovac was to
point out, looking at the cult photograph on which he is shown lying prone
in Ilica in front of the Church of the Wounded Jesus, that he was making a
pastiche of the position of the priest before the mass and that his figure on the
asphalt in Ilica recalled the rhino, or, in his words, the pure and candid animal,
an "animal that just goes onwards." In Swahili, as he pointed out, Hatari means
"Help," and this work meant "Help. I am a lone rhino. Hatari!"
With Gotovac's action-object of public nudity in the heart of Zagreb
in 1981, a year after the death of Big Brother Tito, I close this short tale
concerning the initiation of performance art in Croatia.
1. Marijan Susovsk.i, josip SeisseL- nadrealistifko razdoblje: slike, crte'{j, akvareli,
tempere, pasteli, crtaii blokovi od 1920 do 1987 (Zagreb: Muzej suvremene umjetnosti,
1997). Cf.Avangardna umjetnost u regjji 1915-1989, ed. Marinko Sudac (Zagreb: Galerijski
Centar Varaidin, 2005).
2. Vidosava Golubovic, "Iz prepiske oko Zenita i zenitizma. Marijan Mikac /
Ljubomir Micic," Ljetopis Srpskog kulturnog druftva Prosvjeta 4 (1999): 277-293.
Cf. Vidosava Golubovic and Irina Subotic, Zenit 1921- 1926 (Beograd: Narodna
biblioteka Srbije, Institut za knjizevnost i umetnost, Beograd-SKD Prosvjeta, Zagreb,
Cf. Zenit i avangarda 20ih (dvadesetih) godina, curated by Irina Subotic (Beograd: Narodni
muzej Beograd, Institut za knjizevnost i umetnost, 1983).
3. Branimir Donat, "Performans kao oblik komunikacije hrvatske dade
i njenih inaCica s javnoscu," in Dani hvarskog kazalifta-hrvatska knjizevnost, kazalifte i
avangarda dvadesetihgodina20. Stoljeea (Zagreb-Split: HAZU, Knjizevni krug, 2004), 5- 12.
4. Branka Brlenic-Vujic, Orfejeva oporuka: od moderne do postmoderne (Osijek:
MH Ogranak Osijek, 2004).
5. Actually, the Marinetti drama of objects They Are Coming was published in
the 14th issue of Zenit in 1922, translated by Micic.
6. Susovski, 17.
7. Vera Horvat-Pintaric,)osip Seissel (Zagreb: Galerija Nova, 1978).
8. Natasa Ilic, "Umjetnost i aktivizam," in Knjiga i druftvo 22%. Umjetnost i
aktivizam (Zagreb: Autonomna tvornica kulture, 1998), 10.
9. Cf. Gorgona, mit, mitolofka imena (monografija), ed. Marija Gattin (Zagreb:
MSU, 2003).
10. Cf. Janka Vukmir, ed., Grupa festorice au/ora (Zagreb: SCCA, 1998).
11. Marijan Susovski, ed., Nova umjetnifka praksa 1966-1978 (Zagreb: Galerija
suvremene umjetnosti, 1978). Cf. Marijan Susovski, ed., lnovacije u hrvatskoj umjetnosti
sedamdesetih godina (Galerija suvremene umjetnosti, 1982). Cf. Tihomir Milovac, ed.,
Neprilagoileni: konceptualistifke strategjje u hrvatskoj suvremenoj U!J!}etnosti ::: The Misfits
(Zagreb: Muzej suvremene umjetnosti, 2002).
12. Cf. Aleksandar Battista llic and Diana Nenadic, ed., Tomislav Gotovac:
monogra.ft.ja (Zagreb: Hrvatski filmski savez, Muzej suvremene umjetnosti, 2003).
13. Cf. Davor Maticevic, "Zagrebacki krug," in Nova umjetnifkapraksa 1966-
1978, ed. Marijan Susovski (Zagreb: Galerija suvremene umjetnosti, 1978), 21- 28.
14. Suzana Marjanic, ~ c i j s k i mitoslov ili o intervencionistickim korekcijama:
Crveni, Zeleni i Crni Peristil," in Krle'{jni dani u Osijeku 2008. Tekst, podtekst i intertekst u
46 Slavic and East European PeifOrmance Vol. 31, No.2
hrvatsleoj drami i kazaliftu, edited by Branko Hecimovic (Zagreb, Osijek, 2009), 204---222.
15. The first act of public nudity in Zagreb was pulled off by Tom(islav)
Gotovac in the production of a sound object, the action 100 (Whist/in!) on the one-
time Republic Square as part of the 1Oth Zagreb Music Biennial on May 12, 1979
(around noon to one o'clock) in which 102 persons took part, i.e., one hundred
performers with whistles, one leader alias Tom Gotovac and his assistant.
16. His street performance art, actions, and action-objects he used to perform
started sharply at noon, with the sound of the Gric cannon.
Translated by Graham McMaster
Written for the exhibition Matrix Art Prqject Live 2007, held in Carlisle, UK
MAP LIVE 2007 was a performance art exchange between Tel Aviv and
Carlisle, and between Dubrovnik and Carlisle.
URL: http:/ /www.matrixartprojects.org/map_live.html
Self-portrait by Stanislaw Wyspiar\.ski, 1902
Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 31, No.2
Tony H. Lin
Stanislaw Wyspianski's symbolist drama The Wedding (Wesele) has been
a prism for gauging Polish self-perceptions ever since its first production at
the Miejski Theatre in Cracow in 1901. Based upon the wedding between the
author's friend, poet Lucjan Rydel, and his peasant bride Jadwiga Mikolajczyk,
the play has been interpreted in different, sometimes opposing ways. In 1905
when his friend Ludwik Solski wanted to take The Wedding to the Russian
partition for consideration to be staged, Wyspianski refused and told Solski that
the play "accused Poles of spiritual torpor and inability to act."
own explication of his play, that it criticizes contemporary Polish society for its
passivity, is in diametric opposition to that of his contemporary censors, who
considered the play a patriotic and an incitement of the Poles to fight for their
own freedom. I propose to look at three case studies from the beginning of the
twentieth century, mid-century, and the beginning of the twenty-first century
that show how the play as well as its reception can be manipulated to fit the
social and political demands of the time.
Case Study No.1: Partitioned Poland before 1918, Cracow Premiere,
Teatr im. Juliusza Slowackiego, March 16, 1901
By all accounts, The Wedding caused a sensation when it premiered
in Cracow, then part of the Austrian Empire. It was staged twenty-one times
during the 1900--1901 season, and an additional twenty-seven performances
occurred by the end of the 1903 season.
The Wedding was relatively popular, but
it was not a blockbuster by any means in terms of ticket sales.
Most reviews
of the premiere devote substantial space to explaining the plot and idea of the
Several critics point out that many audience members did not understand
what the play was about:
No one in the theatre understood the drama. This was supposed
to change after the premiere, but it was the atmosphere of a great
theatrical event that had an effect, rather than a basic understanding
of the work. Parallel to the audience's lack of understanding, the
majority of reviewers wrote utter nonsense, and even a special literary
conference was put together, in which lecrurers ... explained to the
audience what the play was about.
The linguistic peculiarities of the play did not prevent The Wedding
from arousing strong emotions at the premiere. For many, the sound of the
words alone was equally, if not more, important than their semantic meaning.
The Wedding was a poetic drama, as was indicated on the advertising poster of
the premiere: "Drama in three acts in verse by Stanislaw Wyspiariski" (emphasis
mine). Wyspiariski wrote his dramas in verse, following in the poetic tradition
of Mickiewicz and Slowacki.
In the censored version given to the theatre one day before the
premiere, sixty-nine lines were censored.
The censors seemed eager to erase any
memory or trace of Polish statehood, including its history and culture, because
the deleted lines depict Poland's location, religion, and the Galician slaughter
of 1846.
In 1846, the peasants rebelled against the gentry in the Austrian
partition, killing about one thousand noblemen. The Austrian government
ostensibly used the uprising to eliminate nationalistic Polish nobles who were
plotting an uprising against Austria. The Groom in the play says: "We have
forgotten all of [the 1846 Uprising] I they sawed my grandfather in two I we
have forgotten all of that." The Austrian censorship did not take any chances
and quickly erased the reference to the slaughter from the play.
In another scene, where enemies are specified in the phrases "against
the Muscovites" and "beat the Muscovites," the name is replaced by a more
general reference to the "enemy." The fact that the line "against the Muscovites"
was deleted in the Austrian partition may seem curious, but it seems logical that
the censors would suppress references to any of the three occupying powers.
Furthermore, in act 3, scene 10, the line " they want to take up arms" is deleted.
Moreover, the play's conclusion lacks Jasiek's shouting "Grab horses, I grab
weapons, grab weapons. I Wawel Castle awaits you!" As demonstrated by this
case study, censors deleted lines that they could easily grasp without considering
the play's subtleties. In imagining only one interpretation of The Wedding, they
ignored the fact that its irony could be equally subversive.
In contrast to the Austrian partition, productions of The Wedding
were banned altogether in Russian-occupied territory and did not emerge
50 Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 31, No. 2
until January 1906 in L6di. Similarly, the Prussian court believed that The
Wedding fomented "public incitement of different classes of people to acts of
violence" and consequently banned the production of the play.
We can see
that censorship worked quite differently in the three partitions, because the
internal situation within each partition was different.
The 1905 Revolution in Russia led to less censorship of the theatre
in Poland.
The preemptive censorship was thus lifted, and The Wedding was
allowed to be staged in Warsaw for the first time in 1906. However, after only
two performances, the censor Vladimir lvanovsky banned the play. He stated:
This play, as is the majority of Wyspianski's works, has symbolic
character. The play introduces the contemporary dreary condition of
the Polish society caused by its complete indifference with regards
to the restoration of Poland. Everything is limited to loud words,
and no one thinks about working for the common good of realizing
cherished Polish ideals. The higher layer of the Polish society already
showed a hundred years ago what it's worth, selling its own fatherland
to Russians; one could have expected something from the peasants,
who produce heroes from their own milieu such as Glowacki,
presently the hope is bad for them; and they let go the golden horn,
which was to awaken the society stuck in opportunism. On account
of the work's content, I would propose forbidding it on the basis of
the Point 4 No. 2 of the Censorship and Printing Act.
At no point does lvanovsky mention that The Wedding stirs Poles to
revolt; instead, he verbalizes the criticism of Polish society that Wyspiariski
implies in the text. The phrase "no one thinks about working for the common
good of realizing cherished Polish ideals" suggests that, in Ivanovsky's view,
The Wedding is not a call to arms. Rather, The Wedding points out the problem
of the passivity of Polish society. Would Ivanovsky have allowed The Wedding
to be staged if the golden horn had been found and a revolution taken place?
Ivanovsky's example shows that censors have a variety of reasons for banning
works of art. While Prussian censors believed The Wedding would cause unrest
and incite Poles to rebellion, the Russian censor thought that The Wedding would
have the opposite effect. Nevertheless, the outcome- The Wedding not being
staged-was the same in the Prussian and in the Russian partitions.
... -.
o!IS I 1t
. -
Poster for the World Premiere of The Wedding,
Teatr im. Juliusza Slowackiego, March 16, 1901
Slavic and East European Performance VoL 31, No. 2
Case Study No. 2: Second World War, Lw6w,
Panstwowy Polski Teatr Dramatyczny (PPTD), April14, 1945
World War II brought drastic changes to the landscape of Polish
theatre. Most theatre buildings were destroyed, and many theatre workers,
writers, directors, actors, and critics perished in the war, resulting in a shortage
of capable cast members.
However, wartime theatrical activity did not
come to a standstill. Even though there were no official performances of
The Wedding between 1939 and 1944, theatre lovers and actors managed to
establish clandestine theatres and staged at least two known performances of
The Wedding in private homes: first in Cracow in 1941 and second in Warsaw
in 1944. The war also saw The Wedding performed in unusual places, such as in
barracks and concentration camps.
Polish theatres reopened in Lw6w on August 18, 1944, after the
retreat of the Germans and the establishment of the Soviet administration.
Even though the city had been liberated by the Soviet army, the war was not
yet over, and the political sensitivity of the period had direct influence on the
theatre's repertory. A meeting to address issues of Polish theatre in newly
liberated territories took place in Moscow on October 26, 1944. The Polish
Communist Committee on Artistic Matters (Komitet do Spraw Sifukt) stated:
"Polish dramaturgy should take its proper place on Soviet stages, and above all
on the stages of war fronts, serving units of the Red Army that are liberating
the neighboring Slavic nations."
When this message reached the theatre
director, Bronislaw (1903-1992), it became clear that there would
be no autonomy in theatre. In memoir, published more than thirty
years later, he wrote:
Eclectic repertory of the theatre caused by specific circumstances did
not allow for exact formulation of our stage proftle. Undoubtedly
the main role fell upon actors, and the directors were mainly putting
pressure on actors' interpretation within a realistic framework. No
one dreamt about experiments and autonomy of theatre at the time.
The eclectic recommended list includes both Polish and Soviet works,
such as Wojciech Boguslawski's folkloristic musical comedy Cracovians and
Highlanders (Krakowiary i Gorale, 1794), Aleksander Fredro's comedy Maidens'
Vows (Siuf?y panietiskie, 1832) and an adaptation of Nikolai Ostrovsky's socialist-
realist novel r!ow the Steel was Tempered.
Since the list was only recommended,
there was room for negotiation. Da._browski managed to include The Wedding in
the 1944-1945 season but had to change the content of the play dramatically.
task was to satisfy a public that was yearning for the
return of Polish culture. In accordance with the Communist committee
resolution, decided to change one fundamental aspect of the plot:
the loss of the golden horn. In this production, the golden horn is found and
thus the intelligentsia and peasants could unite in the face of a common enemy.
Da._browski in his memoir wrote: "In the current situation it was necessary to
take the socio-political problems into consideration, to choose from Polish
classics and foreign works those that are appropriate and suitable to be made
more contemporary."
The phrase "to make something contemporary"
(uwspolczefnienie) means that elements potentially offensive to the Russians were
taken out. For example, the Black Madonna icon was removed,
and reference
to the 1846 Galician slaughter was taken out. The 1945 Lw6w production is an
example of how a play can be distorted for political purposes at the expense of
the play's integrity and even coherence.
The production's optimism was intended to cheer up the audience
members and raise their spirits so that they would continue fighting the
Germans, who had deprived them of their freedom. The Romantic fervor
of fighting matched the objective of this production perfectly. The irony,
of course, is that Poles did not regain their freedom under a Soviet-imposed
regime, and the production simply became a case of wishful thinking and
Soviet propaganda.
Case Study No.3: Twenty-First Century Poland, Katowice,
Teatr (im. Stanisl:awa Wyspianskiego), October 6, 2007
For more than a hundred years, the production history of The Wedding
has reflected the inherent complexities of the play and also the powerful impact
of historical vicissitudes on its reception; directors have had to grapple with
the text and its relevant performance traditions that began with Wyspianski's
own staging. The 2007 Katowice production deserves our attention for several
reasons. First, the Katowice production has a connection to the 1945 Lw6w
54 Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 31, No. 2
Bronislaw D:tbrowski, director of The Wedding, Panstwowy Polski Teatr
Dramatyczny (PPTD), Lw6w, 1945
production. Due to the shifting border, Polish actors in Lw6w had to move
to Katowice permanently, where they staged The Wedding for the post-war
inaugural performance on October 6, 1945, directed by Da.browski. Second,
since the Polish Sejm declared the year 2007 the Year of Wyspiariski, there was
an unusual amount of press attention paid to the numerous plays staged as part
of the festive activities. The director of the Katowice production was Rudolf
Ziolo, who had directed The Wedding two years earlier in Teatr Wybrzeze in
Gdansk. Ziolo spoke extensively in the press about how he hoped that the
production would embody a contemporary understanding of the play.
During International Theatre Day, the Minister of Culture and
National Heritage, Kazimierz Michal Ujazdowski, designated the year 2007-
the centenary of Wyspiariski's death-the Year of Wyspiari.ski. Ujazdowski's
decision, supported by the President Lech Kaczynski, resulted in five million
zloty of funding.
As a result, Wyspiari.ski's plays, and particularly The Wedding,
received renewed attention from directors and the general public alike. In
Ujazdowski's speech announcing the Year of Wyspiariski, he states:
\X'yspiari.ski was the first of the twentieth-century playwrights who
struggled with the problem of Polishness. He desired the collective
bond of Poles to grow out of the internal freedom of each of the
citizens, and patriotism to be an effect of spiritual greatness of
individuals. He posed an extremely difficult task for the audience: in
order for one to deserve the dignity of being a Pole, one must become
a genuine person.
Ujazdowski's understanding of Wyspiari.ski's life and works projects his
own view and inextricably infuses politics into art. He does not use specific
language, nor is it always clear what "internal freedom" means, but one clearly
sees the rather one-sided and pro-Poland nature of his statement. Ujazdowski's
statement reflects his political affiliation, since he belongs to the Law and Justice
(PiS) Party, which generally advocates nationalistic views and often expresses
anti-European sentiments. Ujazdowski's official statement raises the question
with which I have been concerned: how Wyspiariski has once again become a
political vehicle, subject to manipulation and appropriation.
In 2007, The Wedding was staged in several large cities such as Cracow,
Szczecin, and Katowice. In numerous reviews of recent productions of The
56 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No. 2
a question frequently posed is how the play, which centers on the
clash between peasants and intelligentsia in Wyspianski's time, remains relevant
to today's Poland. As in the 1945 Lw6w production, making Wyspianski
contemporary remains a major concern in the twenty-first century. One
journalist even asks, "Why should one play a relic (truchlo)?"
We can begin to
answer the question by considering the fact that Wyspianski's text remains open
to widely divergent interpretation. Several directors have pointed out that their
aim in new productions is to "decipher the meaning of Wyspianski's text."
Part of "deciphering" the text involves engaging both with Wyspiari.ski's text
and its associated legend, but in the process also infusing one's own belief and
understanding of the play.
In many ways, The Wedding provided an ideal platform for Ziolo, who
had earlier stated: "Theatre should irritate, arouse objection, pose difficult
questions and provoke bitter answers."
Ziolo has also expressed his pessimism
with Poland in multiple interviews. For example, in an interview for the
Katowice production, Ziolo describes the political situation in overwhelmingly
negative terms (time of chaos, time of poaching in national ideas, etc.) and
even recalled the famous phrase by Jan Nowak-Jezioranski: "The biggest threat
for Poland is Poles."
In Aleksandra Czapla-Oslislo's review of the play, published under
the title ''Association of Dead Patriots" two days after her interview with the
director, she points out several unusual characteristics about this production:
there is no celebratory atmosphere and the lack of collectivity (zbiorowofc) is
overwhelming. Wyspianski's lines are recited standing; actors never sit at the
dinner table all at the same time, thus not allowing the feast to occur. In another
review titled "Nie-weselmy sie ... " (a word play that is perhaps best rendered by
"We are not merry ... "), journalist Marta Odziomek seconds Czapla-Oslislo's
observation that the actors did not smile or show any sign of happiness at the
wedding party. Furthermore, the actors did not converse, but talked to the world
"with hatred for other people."
Odziomek also points out that the realistic
first act-where the guests ostensibly celebrate and enjoy themselves-lacks a
lively tempo. Odziomek ends her review by defending Poland against Ziolo's
indirect criticism by stating "today is not all that bad."
By now it should strike the reader that the shifting interpretations
and understandings of The Wedding continue to the present. While Minister
Ujazdowski proudly links Wyspiari.ski with patriotism, director Ziolo takes a
Poster for The Wedding, directed by Rudolf Ziolo,
Teatr Sl:tski (im. Stanisl:awa Wyspiariskiego), Katowice, 2007
Slavic and East E uropean Performance Vol. 31, No.2
decidedly more pessimistic stance that is perhaps not only the genuine message
conveyed by The Wedding but also an attack on the contemporary political
situation in Poland. When we look at the promotional poster, designed by
Piotr we see the Polish eagle with the Solidarity, European Union,
and Holy Mary Mother of Jesus Christ (the symbol to the right of the tie)
lapel pins, the latter being a clear reference to Lech who frequently
wears it. The Polish eagle is shown wearing a jester's hat and tied by a rope,
the red/white color of which suggests the Samoobrona (Self-Defense) Party,
then headed by Andrzej Lepper.
Odziomek's review makes reference to the
poster, describing it as "humorous, but at the same time provoking deeper
thought." The rich allusions of the poster force one to come to terms with
both the past and the present and offer no joyous vision of the future. Even
though Ziolo's staging of The Wedding takes place more than a hundred years
after Wyspiansk.i's 1901 premiere, the productions are bookends. The inability
to unite and the lack of social solidarity among Poles remain relevant in the
twenty-first century.
Acknowledgment: I warmly thank David Frick and Anna Muza for their guidance and
thoughtful comments throughout my research for this project
1. See Alicja Okori.ska, Stanislaw Wyspimiski (Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna,
1971), 292. With a few exceptions where I provide the original Polish, I have translated
the quotes in this paper.
2. As quoted in Aniela Lempicka, "Wesele" we wspomnieniach i krytyce (Krakow:
Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1961), 46.
3. Dziady, Kordian, and Faust were more popular than Wesele in terms of ticket
sales. See Jan Michalik, "0 prernierze Wesela inaczej," in 0 teatrze i dramacie, ed. Edward
Krasinski (Wrodaw: Zaklad Narodowy irn. Ossoliri.skich, 1989), 142. The article states
that The Wedding's popularity may have been exaggerated as an advertising tactic.
4. See, for example, Adolf Neuwert-Nowaczyri.ski's "Wesele," as quoted in
Adam Grzymala-Siedlecki, 0 tw6rczofci Wyspimiskiego (Krakow: Wydawnictwo Literack.ie,
1970), 295.
5. Jerzy Got, Stanislaw Wyspimiski: "Wesele," tekst i inscenizacja z roku 1901
(Warszawa: Pari.stwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1977), 287-288.
6. Though Wyspiari.ski has been called the "new national bard," his
relationship with the Romantic bards is complex, often ambivalent. On the one hand,
Wyspiari.ski revered them for tackling the question of nationhood. On the other hand,
he also attacked his predecessors' inability to unite and mobilize the masses in a joint
fight against the enemy. In The Wedding, one can see the ways in which Wyspiari.ski both
paid tribute to and ironized the work of his Romantic predecessors.
7. Rafal Wt;;grzyniak, WOkOI "Wesela" Stanislmua (Wroclaw:
Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich, 1991), 21.
8. See Leon Ploszewski's ,Dodatek Krytyczny," in Stanislaw Wyspianski,
Dziela zebrane Vol. 4, 289-292.
9. Wt,:grzyniak, 22.
10. Ibid., 24.
11. Here lvanovsky refers to Wojciech Bartosz Glowacki, a peasant famous
for fighting in the Kosciuszko Uprising against Russians in 1794. Glowacki is the
subject of a painting "Bitwa pod Raclawicami" by Jan Matejka, Wyspianski's teacher.
12. See Henryka Secomska, Akta Redakcja
Tea train ego, 1966).
13. Kazirnierz Braun, A Concise History if Polish Theatre (Lewiston: The Edwin
Mellen Press, 2003), 197.
14. In the barracks outside of Poznan and in the Gross-Rosen and
Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camps. See Diana Poskuta-Wiodek, Co
dzien powtarza gra ... (Krakow: Pari.stwowy Teatr irn.]. Slowackiego, 1993), 163-164.
15. Bronislaw Na deskach iwiat (Krakow:
Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1977), 181-182.
16. Ibid., 184.
17. Ibid., 182.
18. Ibid., 181.
19. The famous icon of Black Madonna of Czt;;stochowa (Matka Boska
is believed to have miraculously saved the monastery of Jasna G6ra. The
icon is Poland's holiest relic and one of the country's national symbols.
20. However, as Jacek Popiel points out, there was no effort to promote
Wyspiari.ski internationally. See interview with Wadaw Krupiriski in Dziennik Polski
(November 29, 2007).
21. See http:/ /www.gim3.net/news.php?readmore=59 (last accessed
December 13, 2009).
22. See, for example, Miroslaw Baran in Gazeta Wyborcza Qune 16, 2005).
23. Roman Pawlowski in Gazeta Wyborcza Qune 20, 2005).
24. See, for example, Monika Wasilewska's interview with Ryszard Peryt in
Gazeta Wyborcza, Lodi (March 23, 2007).
25. Rzet<.?f>ospolita, August 29, 1996.
26. Marta Odziomek, Dziennik Teatraltry (October 11, 2007).
27. Ibid.
28. An interesting coincidence- Andrzej Lepper committed suicide in
August of 2011 by hanging himself with a rope.
60 Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 31, No. 2
Donatella Galella
At the beginning of The Pig, or Vdc/av Havel's Hunt for a Pig, an American
reporter interviews a famous pig farmer and covers a a celebration
for friends and family who feast on a pig. She soon realizes, however, that the
celebration is not what it seems and the so-called farmer is actually dissident
playwright and spokesman for Charter 77 Vaclav Havel. Meanwhile, the chorus
performs excerpts from Bediich Smetana's nationalist opera The Bartered Bride
that interrupt Havel's tale about his tortuous attempt to secure a pig, at times
underscoring his implied critiques of communism and at other times pointing
the way toward a bright future with Havel's presidency. Already apparent in the
opening moments, The Pig is a multivalent production- a play, an opera, a feast,
and an adaptation of Havel's original text-that reflects upon itself. In June,
Untitled Theater Company #61 and The Ice Factory 2011 presented the US
premiere of The Pig with translation and additional text by Edward Einhorn,
and direction and musical arrangements by Henry Akona. They successfully
produced a provocative and frankly entertaining theatrical experience whose
thoughtful interplay between text and music, amusing anecdote and political
commentary I will explore in this review.
The source material of The Pig dates back to 1987 when Havel
published the play in Notj Brak, an underground magazine. His writing had
been banned since the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968, and he was in and out
of prison for years because of his political activism. In The Pig, he offers a brief
dialogue based on his real experience of trying to obtain a pig for a zabfja!ka.
It is the last play he wrote before the Velvet Revolution, and it received little
attention until recently.
When Divaldo Husa na provizku (fheatre Goose on a String)
researched Havel's work, the theatre came across the rarely-seen dialogue. In
2010, the company's artistic director, Vladimir Moravek, staged the exciting
fmd for the Theatre World Brno Festival. He expanded upon Havel's text
by giving lines to minor characters and inserting parts of The Bartered Bride.
Smetana's comic opera, which centers on the trials of a romantic couple, is
often cited as laying the foundation for Czech music because it was written
in the Czech language, and it was inspired by Czech folk music and polkas.
According to Einhorn, "In the context of The Pig, the celebratory nature of the
music foreshadows the Velvet Revolution, the overthrow of Communism, and
Havel's election to the presidency."
For the American production, Einhorn preserved many of Moravek's
additions and collaborated with Akona and native Czech speaker, K.aterina Lu.
He had previously curated Untitled Theater Company #61's Havel festival in
New York City in 2006. Translating The Pig for an American audience largely
unfamiliar with contemporary Czech history and Smetana's nineteenth-century
opera, though it is often revived at major opera houses, Einhorn was careful
to clarify cultural allusions. In Einhorn's account of the adaptation process,
he writes that he also added silent characters to evoke Havel's dramaturgy
and to take advantage of the video and projection technology of the 3LD
Art & Technology Center, the downtown New York space where The Pig was
Appropriately advertised as a "theatrical-musical-technological-
gastronomic extravaganza," The Pify or Vticlav Havel's Hunt for a Pig welcomes
the audience into a festive atmosphere of music, food, and drink} At every
performance, a different band plays during the pre-show. When I attended, Ace
Case, a one-man alt-rocker, performed a range of songs from "If I Only Had
a Brain" to "Tu vu6 fa !'americana." Because I booked my ticket in advance, I
enjoyed a meal consisting of a Czech candy bar, a bottle of water, and a pork
sandwich from Porchetta, which I thought was appropriate for the occasion.
I took a seat at one of the tables around the space, while women in traditional
Czech dress sold cold beer and freshly baked pretzels, all bringing to my mind
a casual wedding reception appropriate to The Bartered Bnde. On screens above
the tables along three sides of the room, I saw Soviet Realist art, juxtaposing
images of labor above and consumption below.
When the formal performance begins, the images change to the live
news broadcast that frames the production, putting The Pig in a critical, meta-
theatrical light. Audience members can choose to look at the streaming video
above or at the clueless journalist, humorously played by Katherin Boynton,
with her cameraman and grip following her. But the silent grip seems more
like a government agent stalking Havel. When the journalist asks Havel how
he feels about Gorbachev, the grip gives him a stern look, so Havel replies, " no
62 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 31, No. 2
Andrew Goldsworth, Mateo Moreno, Katherin Boynton, and Robert Honeywell in The Pig, or Vticlav rlavel's
Hunt fora Pig, directed by Henry Akona, Untitled Theatre Company #61, New York, 2011
He has to censor himself in this public forum, and in so doing he
draws attention to this act.
In addition, the grip and informative ticker running under the
broadcast constantly remind the spectator of the setting. Headlines place the
play in 1987 with, for instance, the announcement of Phantom of the Opera
opening on Broadway. As the play goes on, the headlines become more self-
referential, commenting on the action in the play or on Havel as a still unknown
playwright as far as Americans are concerned. The production thereby reveals
a self-consciousness, mirroring Havel's own, but only if the viewer decides to
follow the news ticker.
Music adds another layer. At the prompting of her producers, the
journalist tries to deliver the news through a formal interview with Havel,
but what she receives is a long-winded anecdote about a pig, underscored by
excerpts from The Bartered Bride. An orchestral trio plays from the risers, and
members of the chorus occasionally take up instruments. At the beginning,
the chorus exults, "Why not make a celebration?" but once Havel describes
his first obstacle, the chorus sings, in a staccato-like rhythm, alternations of
"irate" and "irritated," echoing the feelings of the distraught playwright. Havel
recounts how some farmers broke their pledge to give a pig to his self-help
library's zab(jafka, likely because of the library's associations with Havel and
his dissident friends. He subsequently goes to the pub at VlCice to ask the
tap master about buying a pig. The journalist and camera crew eagerly follow
Havel, who reenacts the events.
Before Havel proceeds with his inquiry at the pub, a dramatic scene
from the opera interrupts. The opera focuses on Marenka, played by Moira
Stone, an exceptional soprano, and her lover Jenik, played by Terence Stone. In
The Pig, Marenka sings to Jenik of her worries about their upcoming nuptials
because of her foreboding dreams and their missing pig that suggest that the
zab(jafka and their marriage are doomed. The journalist derides Maienka's
worries as unfounded, only to be told over her earpiece that "everything goes
terribly wrong." Yet Jenik assuages Maienka, the chorus sings cheerfully, and
a Czech audience would know that the opera ends happily. Although much
of the music of The Bartered Bride is indeed celebratory, those sections are
contrasted with clipped, tense music. The series of songs and even the scene
between Marenka and Jenik are repeated several times but with variations in
tone and context. Einhorn and Akana's use of repetition and variation recalls a
64 Slavic and Eait European Performance Vol. 31, No.2
dramatic technique that Havel has been using since The Garden Parry.
Because the American audience probably takes the journalist at her
word, believing that the opera ends sadly, The Bartered Bride creates space for
ambiguiry and even anxiery. Maienka, the bartered bride of the title, seems
to parallel loosely the uncertain pig that Havel tries to obtain. In the opera,
Maienka's parents want their daughter to marry the younger son of Tobias
Micha, not Jenik, to cover old debts. Kecal, the marriage broker, pays off Jenik,
who agrees that only Micha's son may wed Maienka. Despite the appearance
that Jenik has forsaken his love, he reveals that he is Micha's son from a prior
marriage, and the opera concludes in blessings and celebrations for the rightful
couple. But while Jenik strikes a clever deal, Havel is swindled.
At the pub, he fmds out that the tap-master's brother-in-law, Lad'a,
has a pig to sell, at which point Havel makes what he calls his "fatal mistake."
Whether his mistake is showing his enthusiasm, implying that he would be
happy to pay any price, or getting involved with the pig in the flrst place is
unclear. He signs an apparently reasonable agreement with the tap-master, but
unlike Jenik he disappoints everyone by speaking rather than singing his line.
The chorus members throw off their characters and throw up their hands,
the working lights come up, and the actor playing Havel's friend demonstrates
how to sing. Shaky on the notes, Robert Honeywell showed Havel's struggle,
an admirable and interesting choice because this is the only play of Havel's in
which the playwright appears in his own work. In this moment, the production
again reveals its self-awareness, adds some more comedy, and suggests a
dispute for artistic control. Whose story is this? Will Havel get his pig? What
does the pig mean?
Havel then goes on a goose- or rather pig- chase. A tractor driver
named Panda offers him a better, bigger pig, to Havel's delight, but then the
playwright must find the tap-master. When they meet again, the tap-master
reneges on the deal, claiming that the pig is still a runt and not to be sold.
Although Havel is pleased that he does not have to disappoint the tap-master,
the music foreshadows further complications with Panda. Throughout these
negotiations, the chorus repeats lines such as ''Why not make a celebration?"
and "They are happy who know how to make each single minute count." The
chorus's jerky movements, the cool lighting, and the lack of instrumental
support turn the cheerful lines cold and give them new meaning: the villagers
are rejoicing at taking advantage of Havel. Twirling around the space, they
Mateo l\foreno and Andrew Goldsworth in The Pig, or Vticlav Havel's Hunt for a Pig,
directed by Henry Akona, Untitled Theatre Company #61, New York, 2011




push him around and tire him out. Upset by this pig fiasco, a letter from his
distraught wife, and the intrusive up-tempo music from The Bartered Bride,
Havel realizes he has been duped and has no pig on the day of the zab(jafka.
Just then, Fanda appears with a pig and demands an exorbitant price-ten
times as much as the original agreement with the tap-master-and Havel has
no choice. He tries to resist the chorus by cutting off the singing and plugging
his ears, though he now has to agree to their terms. They display an absurdly
long contract and, as with the first agreement, he sings, "Now I understand
these men, and so I'm glad to use my pen."
But when he holds up the contract to the camera, the audience sees
that he has written, "Letter of Protest." His pen, his playwriting, is his mode of
dissent. Meanwhile, the grip, or undercover agent, silently reviews the contract
with disdain. The document could be read as an act of rebellion, which,
however small, must be scrutinized and condemned, or it could be along the
lines of Charter 77. \X'hen Havel finishes his account of obtaining a pig, the
journalist starts to sense the purpose of this story and asks if Havel's anecdote
was really a comment on how communism can corrupt a community. Havel
smiles and steps back, refusing to give unequivocal answers. The multiple layers
of Einhorn's adaptation, aided by many of Akona's directorial decisions and
especially the excerpts from The Bartered Bride, produce various understandings
of Havel's original text that range from droll tale to political parable.
This layering is further complicated by the element of audience
participation. The chorus members initially sit down at the tables with the
audience, and at the end of the performance, they invite everyone to sing along.
The renewed call to celebrate ends the experience on an optimistic note and
hints at the Velvet Revolution only two years later, as Einhorn writes. Einhorn's
translation preserves Moravek's addition of "truth and love" in the final lyrics,
referencing Havel's well-known proclamation, "Truth and love must prevail
over lies and hatred." Drinking beer and eating pork sandwiches, which I
thought were delicious, also evoke a participatory sense, as if the audience
members are the friends invited to Havel's zab(jafka. However, this could also
be interpreted as the audience being complicit with the villagers in conning
Havel by enjoying the meal instead of helping the playwright, or as an oblique
critique of consumption, though not quite like that of Havel's Unveiling. Finally,
the exhortation to make each minute count doubles as a call to political action
before it is too late. The festive music thereby plays with the lyrics to produce
diverse meanings and ends an entertaining and thoughtful evening of theatre.
The Pig had a brief run in New York, but the play will continue to
reach new audiences. After the initial production in Brno, Moravek presented
the play at the 2011 Forest Festival of the Revnice Theatre. Einhorn's English
translation will be published in the spring of 2012 along with other new
translations that debuted at Untitled Theater Company #61's Havel festival.
Although the page will not be able to convey fully the complex use of music,
movement, and video used in Akona and Einhorn's production, The Pig, or
T/dclav Havel's Hunt for a Pig is a cause for celebration in its ambiguity, intelligence,
and humor.
1. Edward Einhorn, "Translator's Note," Program for The Pig, or Vticlav
Havel's Hunt fora Pig, June 29-July 2, 2011.
2. Untided Theatre Company #61, The Pig, or Vticlav Havel's Hunt for a
Pig, accessed July 14, 2011, http:/ /www.untidedtheater.com/UTC61/Shows/
Entries/2011/6/29 _ The_Pig,_or_ Vaclav html.
3. All quotations from The Pig, or Vticlav Havel's Hunt for a Pig are from the
unpublished text provided by U ntided Theatre Company #61 on July 1, 2011 .
Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No. 2
APRIL 1-16,2011
Samuel T. Shanks
Due to its wit and overt theatricality, Witkiewicz's short play The Crazy
Locomotive is always worth seeing in production, and the creative and energetic
production of this play last April by the Boston-area production company
Imaginary Beasts did the play great justice. The Crazy Locomotive is a play in two
acts and an epilogue that depicts a series of broadly drawn characters, notably
two arch-villains, Travaillac and Prince Karl Tn!faldi, and Julia, Trevaillac's fiancee
whose eye wanders between both men. All three are in Jove with technology and
drunk on their own power. They hijack the eponymous locomotive and drive
it onward, ever faster, toward catastrophe. The dream-like ending of the play
is set amongst the smoking ruins of the destroyed locomotive and serves as
a meditation on the horrors that underlie the glamorous veneer of modern
industrialized society. An overtly anti-futurist work that was written in 1923,
shortly after World War I and the Russian Revolution, Witkiewicz's play captures
the almost pathological dissociation of the elite classes of late nineteenth and
early twentieth century Europe, who similarly drove their nations toward
senseless conflagrations. Despite being a play that was very much about its
time, The Crazy Locomotive was never produced during Witkiewicz's life. But
the same pattern of events has been often repeated since, and given the recent
economic catastrophes that have battered global economies, the timing of the
Imaginary Beasts' revival could not be more appropriate.
Despite the production's modest scale, both the design and the
acting of the production were highly appropriate and served the play well.
The scenery for the production, designed by Mac Young (who also played
Travaillac), consisted of a small, ten-foot raked turntable with two small,
abstract structures attached to opposite sides of the rake, which stood in for
the locomotive's furnace and coal tender. Upstage were three semi-circular
screens that were used for simple projections and shadow-play. Although there
was nothing inherently locomotive-like about the design, the cramped playing
area of the turntable nicely evoked the confmed space of the locomotive's
Marlee Delia in The Crail Locomotive, directed by Matthew Woods,
Imaginary Beasts, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, 2011
Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 31, No. 2
control room, and the sloped deck caused the entire cast to stand and move
with a degree of instability that echoed the challenges of standing and walking
on a moving train.
Constructed entirely of wood and painted bright white, the set served
as an ever-present ironic counterweight to the futurist rhetoric of the main
characters: homages to the virtues of the steel, industrial giant upon which the
characters stood were continually undercut by the physical presence of the tiny
wooden set; praise for the locomotive's breath-taking speed along its linear path
was parodied by having the platform simply spin in place. Further undercutting
the rhetoric of freedom and personal achievement, which forms the core of
Trefaldi, Julia, and Travaillac's dialogue, was the fact that the platform's sole
source of movement came from the comically theatricalized physical exertions
of a small, gnome-like figure that silently resided in the "engine" of the
locomotive, hopping off now and again to spin the platform as necessary.
Played by the diminutive Marlee Delia, and costumed in a Chaplinesque
tramp outfit, this character's unacknowledged toil in shifting the rake from
one position to another underlined the bubble of oblivion in which the play's
main characters existed. Together, these elements served as a critical reminder
of the human and environmental costs associated with capitalism and heavy
industrialization, instilling an intellectual tension that allowed Witkiewicz's
social critique to remain in the foreground, even when the dialog was revolving
around other ideas.
The costume and makeup plots for the production were executed
primarily in black and white monochrome that served as an onstage analog
for the look of the black and white flim era. But the design also included small
accents of red and yellow found in costume pieces such as scarves, belts, and
hair accessories, which created just enough visual dissonance to keep a spectator
from succumbing to the filmic illusion. These flecks of red and yellow also
echoed the flames within the locomotive, foreshadowing the blaze that was
destined to occur later in the play. The costume and makeup plots, combined
with the scenography, simultaneously evoked both the melodramatic films of
the silent era as well as the socialist realist imagery of the early Soviet Union.
Together, the designs established a clear sense of time and place while also
visually embodying Witkiewicz's social critiques.
The production's acting sought a similarly stylized effect, though it did
so less consistently. The overall approach to performance was vibrant, creative,
and energetic, sliding back and forth between the melodramatic physical acting
style of the silent film era and a more expressionistic approach. Walking such
a line is difficult, and the cast was not always successful. The melodramatic
acting, for instance, which was clearly intended as a parody of the silent-era
fJ.lm. style, had a tendency to become repetitive. The moments that worked best
were those that served as expressionistic projections of the characters' inner
Ultimately, however, I think that the success of both the melodramatic
and expressionistic moments hinged on the degree of creativity exhibited
by the performers, and the ensemble's expressionistic work was consistendy
more inspired. The work of the production's primary actresses, Amy Meyer
(Julia) and Jill Rogati (Erna/Jeanne) in particular were consistendy creative
and engaging no matter what they were doing. Rogati's physical acting and
comic timing electrified each scene in which she appeared, and Meyer's lithe
movements and breathy vocal de.livery masterfully balanced the silly with the
Also noteworthy was the way in which the production's acting and
scenography worked together. The ingenious actor/designer Mac Young
bridged the gap between the cast and the production crew (the production's
director, Matthew Woods, is apparendy a scenographer as well). The initial
image that greets the audience at the top of the show is of Young, as the
locomotive's "fireman," athletically shoveling imaginary coal to stoke the
locomotive's "engine." Each movement was performed in a space perfecdy
configured to high.light the human role in the engine's operation. This moment
was striking because it was clear that the scenic designer had created a set that
was, first and foremost, an "acting machine" (the design had clear constructivist
influences), and that the actor understood precisely how to operate as the
critical element of that machine.
Overall, this was a remarkable and interesting production for
anyone fortunate enough to have caught it. Imaginary Beasts is a young,
ensemble-based company in its fourth season that appears to be specializing
in challenging works. On their website, they claim to be a company that is
"committed to bringing innovative yet accessible theatrical performances
to the general public," but this would seem to be something of an exercise
in understatement.
By all appearances, this is a highly ambitious group of
artists, whose tastes are primarily rooted in the early twentieth-century avant-
72 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No. 2
The Crazy Locomotive, directed by Matthew Woods, Imaginary Beasts,
Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, 2011
garde. Their list of past productions features works by Gertrude Stein, Nikolai
Gogo!, Federico Garda Lorca, and two of Moliere's more esoteric works.
One can only hope that this company will continue to mount productions by
playwrights such as Witkiewicz with such skill and creativity.
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, The Crazy Locomotive & The Madman and the Nun.
Translated by Daniel Gerould and C.S. Durer. New York: Applause Theatre
Books, 1989.
1. Imaginary Beasts, "About Us," http:/ /www.imaginarybeasts.org/Site/
2. Imaginary Beasts, "Past Performances," http:/ /www.imaginarybeasts.org/
74 Slavic and East European Performance Vol 31, No.2
Christopher Silsby
Playwrights Olga Mukhina and Maksym Kurochkin visited the Martin
E. Segal Theatre Center last season on December 7, 2009, and March 22,
2010, in conjunction with Towson University and the Center for International
Theatre Development (CITD). As part of a season of New Russian Drama,
Towson's Theatre Department presented Mukhina's Taf!Ja-Tat!)la and a
reading of Kurochkin's The Schooling if Bento Bonchev, both directed by Yury
Urnov. Kurochkin's Mooncrazedwas also included in the 2010 Hotlnk Festival
in NYC. In addition to the plays of Mukhina and Kurochkin, the Towson
festival performed newly translated or adapted works by Yurii Klavdiev,
Vyacheslav and Mikhail Durnenkov, the Presniakov Brothers, and Yaroslava
Pulinovich. In order to make these new playwrights-many of whom are
relatively unknown to theatre students in the United States-more accessible
to American audiences, Towson and CITD produced an accompanying digital
collection of translated scripts in the hopes that more theatre companies in
this country will take up the challenge to perform contemporary Russian
dramatists. Mukhina and Kurochkin-together with translator and writer
John Freedman, theatrical director Yury Urnov, and CITD director Philip
Arnoult-discussed their place in the generation of "New Russian Drama."
At the end of the twentieth century, theatre in Russia was anything
but a playwright's theatre. Directors, designers, and actors comprised the
core of Russian theatre troupes. The dramaturg--the Russian word for both
"playwright" and for the European concept of "dramaturg"-had been
lost in the transition to the new free-market world. Rather than standing
alongside the directors and designers as leaders in theatre companies,
the dramaturgs merely adapted previously written plays and novels from
across the European literary canon, rarely providing original scripts for the
early 1990s Russian stage. Then, from cities Like Yekaterinburg and small
towns like Lyubimovka, a new form of writing appeared on the scene.
Despite the wide variance in writing style among these playwrights,
Olga Mukhina (center) with actors Autumn Dornfeld and Carolyn Baemler at the reading of
Tatrya-Tatrya, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, New York, 2009
the words "New Drama" became affixed by the press to Russian plays as a
derogatory term to imply a puerile fascination with sex, drugs, and violence.
By the end of the 1990s, a new generation of Russian playwrights, who
refused to adhere to the exiting cultural and dramatic mores, began to have
their scripts heard and seen. Nikolai Koliada, Vasilii Sigarev, the Presniakov
Brothers, Evgeny Grishkovets, Ivan Vyrypaev, Yurii Klavdiev, and the
Durnenkov Brothers have become some of the most popular playwrights of
the past decade despite-or perhaps because of-the controversy surrounding
some of these early works. Like the "in-yer-face" theatre of Britain's Mark
Ravenhill and Sarah Kane, these playwrights challenged the limits of the
existing theatre. These were taboo themes, supposedly not dealt with on the
refined, traditional Russian stages of the 1990s, even though they had been
bubbling just below the surface ever since the frustrated protagonists of
Stagnation Era plays. Profanity and shock were not the only contributions of
these new kinds of plays. Voices of young people from working-class cities
outside of the capital, people left behind in the economic changes of the first
decades of capitalism, and aesthetic experiments that existing theatres would
not dare to stage were also included in these new plays cropping up around
the country. And, by the turn of the new millennium, these new playwrights
could be seen on the stages of major Moscow and St. Petersburg companies.
Any attempt to define what is meant by "New Russian Drama"
invariably evolves into a chronicle of very different approaches to playwriting
over the past twenty years.
A definition of this possible new form must
include both the obscenity-filled chernukha plays of Nikolai Koliada and the
hyper-naturalistic "verbatim" scripts of Mikhail Ugarov and Yelena Gremina's
Teatr.doc; both the cinematic violence of Yurii Klavdiev from Togliatti, the
"Russian version of Detroit,"
and the poetic dramas of Ivan Vyrypaev from
Irkutsk, Siberia. These are not writers working together as a cohesive formal
movement. "New Russian Drama" is less of an aesthetic category, and more
of a temporal grouping of playwrights who were all "discovered" around the
end of the 1990s and beginning of the 2000s.
While some artists who have been classified as New Russian Dramatists
present themselves in ostentatious and flamboyant ways that match the visceral
and violent style associated with their plays, the two playwrights who visited the
Segal Center took a more humble and unassuming approach. You would not
guess that the soft spoken Olga Mukhina and Maksym Kurochkin were two of
the most influential playwrights of their generation.
Olga Mukhina was one of a trio of new drama playwrights-along
with fellow female playwrights Elena Gremina and Nadezhda Ptushkioa-to
have their plays performed at major theatres in Moscow. According to John
Freedman, "before Ta!!Ja- Ta!!Ja at the Fomenko Studio [in 1996], hardly
anyone would produce new drama."
Mukhina's lyric style, which was favorably
compared to Chekhov, won over audiences and critics. Comparison to Russia's
most famous-and most produced-playwright was not merely grasping at
the simplest analogy. Mukhina includes humor and heartbreak in the gentle
story of unrequited loves and directly engages Chekhov through playful
quotations, visual references, characters named Ivanov and Uncle Vanya, and
seemingly simple language that hides deep emotion and meaning. However,
Mukhina has a voice that is clearly her own and not merely an imitation: dealing
with particularly contemporary complexities in love, mixing natural language
with asides that are almost in verse, and peppering beautiful prose with the
occasional profanity to ground the play in a present-day reality.
Taf!Ja-Tatrya follows the loves, fights, reconfigurations, and unhappiness
of three men and three women on an estate outside Moscow. Jealousy threatens
to erupt into violence as Tanya, Zina, Okhlobytsin, Ivanov, and the unnamed
"boy" and "girl" dance, drink, sleep, lie, and love their way through their
lives in Okhlobytsin's house. Yury Urnov, who staged Taf!Ja-Tatrya at Towson
University, described his experience directing the play by explaining that "when
people ask us, 'what is this play about?' we say it's about love and unhappiness.
And that is also the plot of the play, I believe."
New play festivals became central to the development of what came
to be called "New Russian Drama." Playwrights-unrelated by style, training,
or geography-gathered to have their works read, far away from the judgmental
crowds and reviewers in Moscow and St. Petersburg. First Lyubomovka-a
suburb of Moscow where Stanislavsky had his estate- and later Ekaterinburg
became sites for new play festivals. Whether this was a gathering of individuals
or the beginning of a concerted aesthetic movement, the purpose of the festival
was clear: to establish in the public's mind, even if not in the participants'
minds, the identity of a "New Russian Drama." Mukhina's second play to
be produced was YoU, which premiered in the Lyubimovka festival in 1997.
The playwrights Mikhail Ugarev and Elena Gremina-who would become
founding playwrights of the verbatim theatre Teatr.doc-were two of the
78 Slavic and East European Performance VoL 31, No. 2
Carolyn Baemler, Shannon Burkett, Autumn Dornfeld, Tim Hopper, Michael Pemberton, and Finn Wittrock in
Tanya-Tanya, directed by Yury Urnov, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, New York, 2009
most vocal and visual of the festival's promoters, and they described Mukhina
as "the Little Red Riding Hood of Russian drama. She did not fear going out
into the woods, and she did not fear the wolves."
However, this Little Red
Riding Hood would not have another play produced professionally until the
Moscow Art Theatre performed YoU in 2001. It would be another eight years
until her third play, F!Jing, would find its way out of the woods, but even then, it
was produced internationally before its first major Russian production, which
would not be in Moscow, but Magnitogorsk.
If Olga Mukhina does not fit into the mold of the vulgar realism
associated with "New Drama," then Maksym Kurochkin recasts the mold with
each of his plays. Each of Kurochkin's own plays differs drastically from the
last. In 2000, Kurochkin wrote the critic-proof Kitchen-a play commissioned,
directed, and starring Russian film star Oleg Menshikov. Kitchen blended
time and space to transport characters from German mythic history into a
contemporary Russian kitchen. Despite scathing reviews, audiences flocked to
Kitchen, making it one of the first box office blockbusters of the "New Russian
Drama." After this phenomenal popular success, Kurochkin consciously
attempted to alter his form. "Regardless of how people responded to the
play [Kitchen], it was a very important event, but I did not want to become a
hostage to this play," Kurochkin stated, "I need to break out in order to write
In Mooncrazed, from which scenes were presented at the Martin E. Segal
Theatre Center, Kurochkin broke out of the mythic history of Kitchen and into
actual historical figures. Mooncrazed introduces a present-day Russian journalist
to the writer-inventor Cyrano de Bergerac-called "Savinien Movyer" in this
play, to distance him from the fictionalized Rostand character. The journalist
discusses the lack of convictions needed to write theatrical criticism for his
paper, explaining that having no scruples allows him to write "professionally"
by praising work that he really detests merely because that is what is expected
of him. The critic concludes that he doesn't really need any friends, and
Movyer echoes this sentiment-the two writers connecting over a moment
of shared misanthropy. When Movyer returns to the seventeenth centur y,
modern day Russia is revealed to be his syphilitic dream. In this "reality," the
Frenchman must defend his writing and lifestyle to his patron, ridiculing the
derivative writings of a young upstart named Moliere. Throughout the rest of
the play, time and location shift back and forth from Russia to France until the
Slavic and East European Peiformance VoL 31, No. 2
line between reality and delirium blurs. The two men are continually thrust
together, questioning the role of the genius and the writer in society.
International productions of Kurochkin's plays have not yet enjoyed
the same levels of success as his Russian stagings, but Kurochkin has seen
glimpses that "this could turn into an artistic movement that could have value"
to international audiences. According to the playwright, "This trip has shown
that the texts do work, that people understand what I am trying to say, and
they do what needs to be done."
This "what needs to be done" is the infusion
of energy and enthusiasm, as the playwright saw in the American premiere
of Kitchen in Ann Arbor, MI. American actors seem to understand the text's
pacing. Unlike the measured, introspective text of naturalism, Kurochkin
emphasizes speed. Young American actors, trained in such rapid-ftre and
wordy playwrights as Albee and Mamet, seem to intuit Kurochkin's pacing.
"This doesn't mean that actors should read the text really fast," Kurochkin
qualifies, "but the ability to express a large amount of information in a very
short period of it is necessary-that is very very important. I
am doing away with psychological theatre and replacing it with this kind of
Throughout the two evenings at the Segal Center, as Mukhina and
Kurochkin made quiet jokes, sometimes self-effacing, sometimes toying
with the audience, both playwrights selflessly insisted on the important
contributions of their fellow writers to the development of their own work.
Initially, Kurochkin was hesitant to mention any specific writers he viewed
as directly influencing his work, but he eventually named a few writers who
"make it possible for me to do more": Alexander Volodin, Mikhail Ugarov, the
Durnenkov Brothers, Elena Gremina, Pavel Prezhkov, Valerii Pechaiken, Olga
Mukhina, and Natasha Varashbit.
These Russian writers-who Kurochkin
called his "contemporaries," but not necessarily fellow members of a
concerted artistic movement-energize his writing, push him to innovate, and
force him to shatter previously held conceptions of writing. "I understand that
after Prezhkov, you can't write again the way you used to write," Kurochkin
Mukhina similarly mentioned many playwrights who have emerged
since the 1990s as impacting her writing, including Yaroslava Pulinovich, who,
like Mukhina, moved to "the far north" at a young age. Perhaps, as Mukhina
joked, "there is something about a girl, secluded in the cold north, that makes
Philip Arnoult, John Freedman, Maksym Kurochkin, Yelena Kovalskaya, and Yury Urnov in discussion,
Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, New York, 2009
"' <:l
..... -

her want to write plays."
Surprisingly, Mukhina named Arthur Laurents as
an American playwright whose work influenced her.
Laurents is most often
thought of as a librettist, which in the United States generally implies a lack of
respect given to the term "playwright." However, if we agree with Yury Urnov
that Mukhina's plays are centrally about love and unhappiness, Laurents makes
sense as the writer of the scripts to West Side Story and 0P!Y
While Mukhina and Kurochkin have been central figures in
establishing that new writers in Russia can be popular, and in some cases
even critically accepted, there is still much work for them to do. Kurochkin's
continual reinvention guarantees that each new play will reguire something
different from his audiences and from the theatre companies wishing to stage
them. Mukhina's recent play, Ffying, which was self-produced in Moscow, has
seen multiple stagings in festivals across the United States, and will see a film
adaptation this year-all of this before a professional theatre in Moscow has
taken a chance on it.
While the term ''New Russian Drama" may not describe a coherent
aesthetic, it is true that over the past fifteen years-starting in the late 1990s
with playwrights like Mukhina and continuing into the new millennia with plays
by Kurochkin-there has been a blossoming of new dramas in Russia. So even
if it is unfair to classify these diverse playwrights as a single artistic movement,
they are "contemporaries," to use K.urochkin's term, who inspire and nourish
one another, ensuring new names will continue to appear on Russian theatre
posters under the designation: dramaturg.
1. For excellent descriptions of the various playwrights in this "movement,"
see Yana Ross, "Russia's New Drama from Togliatti to Moscow," Theater 36, vol. 1
(2006): 27-43; and John Freedman, "Contemporary Russian Drama: The Journey
from Stagnation to a Golden Age," Theatre Journa/62, no. 3 (201 0): 389-420. See also
Elizabeth Rich, "Olga Mukhina: A Poetic Voice in Post-Soviet Russia," SEEP 25. no.
1 (2005): 16-26.
2. Ross, 41.
3. John Freedman in discussion with Olga Mukhina, Kate Moira Ryan, Philip
Arnoult, and Yury Urnov, "New Russian Drama: Olga Mukhina's Taf!JaTaf!Ja,"
December 7, 2009, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Graduate Center of the City
University of New York.
4. Yury Urnov, Ibid.
5. John Freedman, Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Maksym Kurochkin and John Freedman, translator, interview with the author,
March 22, 2010, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Graduate Center of the City University
of New York.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Olga Mukhina in discussion, "New Russian Drama: Olga Mukhina's Tatrya-
Tanya," December 7, 2009, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Graduate Center of the
City University of New York.
13. Olga Mukhina, interview with the author, December 7, 2009, Martin E. Segal
Theatre Center, Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
84 Slavic and East European Performance Vol. 31, No. 2
DONATELLA GALELLA is a doctoral student in the Ph.D. Program in
Theatre at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a
graduate teaching fellow at Brooklyn College. She serves as the production
manager of PA]" A Journal of Performance and Art, and she worked as an assistant
editor of SEEP. She has published reviews in both journals.
TONY H. LIN is a Ph.D. Candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures at
the University of California-Berkeley, specializing in Polish and Russian
literature. He received Fulbright and Kosciuszko Foundation grants to study
and research in Poland for two years. He has presented and published papers
on the relationship between music and literature and is currently writing a
dissertation on the myth and appropriation of Chopin in Polish and Russian
literature and culture.
SUZANA MARJANIC is on the staff of the Institute of Ethnology and
Folklore Research in Zagreb, Croatia, where she pursues her interests in
mythic topics in oral literature, animal studies, and theatre/performance art
anthropology. Along with articles on the above topics, she has also published
a book on Miroslav Krle2a's diary entries 1914-1921/1922 (2005) and has co-
edited Cultural Bestiary (2007) with Antonija Zaradija Kis, Folklore Studies Reader
(2010) with Marijana Hame!Sak, and lv[ythicaiAnthology (2010) with Ines Prica.
OLGA MURATOVA is a native of Moscow, Russia. She teaches Russian
Studies in the department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. She received her
M.A. degree in Linguistics at the Moscow University of Linguistics and her
Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of the City University
of ew York. She is a regular contributor to SEEP.
CHRISTOPHER OLSEN worked as a professional actor and director of his
own Off-Off Broadway theatre in the late 1970s, and has taught theatre at a
number of universities and is currently teaching at the University of Puerto
Rico. He has recently had a book published by Amazon.com on New York
theatre of that era, Off-Off Broadwqy: The Second Wave: 1968- 1980.
SAMUEL T. SHANKS is Associate Professor of Theatre at Briar Cliff
University in Sioux City, IA. His interests range from the twentieth-century
European avant-garde to Indonesian puppet theatre, and from African-
American dramatic literature to classical scenography.
CHRISTOPHER SILSBY is a doctoral student in the Ph.D. Program in
Theatre at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where
his work centers on the intersection between Soviet, American, and Musical
theatres and performance. From 2007 to 2010, Christopher worked in multiple
capacities at SEEP, as Assistant Editor, Managing Editor, and Editorial
Advisor. For the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, he has served as Editorial
Assistant on multiple volumes.
Slavic and East European Peiformance Vol. 31, No.2
Photo Credits
The Star Without a Name
Courtesy of the Chekhov Russian Drama Theatre
Crime and Punishment
Photo by Ziga Koritnik
Niiinsh's Last Dance
Photo by Primoz Lukdic
Diva. Saint. Mother. Bitch
Photo by Primoz Lukdic
Oliver Twist
Photo by Primoz Lukdic
Happ Our-Happening
Photo by Mihovil Pansini
Lt,ying naked on the asphalt
Photo by I van Posavec
The Pig, or Vciclav Havel's Hunt for a Pig
Courtesy of Untitled Theater Company #61
The Crazy Locomotive
Photos by Meg Tainter Photography
Olga Mukhina with Autumn Dornfeld and Carolyn Baemler
Photo by John Freedman
Reading of Tanya-Tanya
Photo by Frank Hentschker, courtesy of the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Archive
Maksym Kurochkin Event
Photo by Frank Hentschker, courtesy of the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Archive
Quick Change is full of surprises. It is a
nicely seasoned tossed-salad of a book
concocted by an ironic cookmeister with
a sometimes wild imagination. And how
many quick changes has he wrought
in this book of 28 pieces. The writings
range from translations of/etters and
plays to short commentaries to fully-
developed essays. The topics bounce
from Mayakovsky to Shakespeare, Kantor
to Lunacharsky, Herodotus to Gerould's
own play, Candaules, Commissioner,
Gorky to Grotowski, Shaw to Mrozek,
Briusov to Witkacy. From ancient Greeks to
Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe,
from pre-revolutionary Russia to the
Soviet Union, from France and England
to Poland. From an arcane discussion of
medicine in theatre to a "libertine" puppet
play from 19th century France.
Richard Schechner
Quick Change: Theatre Essays and Translations, a volume of previously uncollected
writings by Daniel Gerould from Comparative Literature, Modern Drama, PA}, TOR,
SEEP, yale/theater and other journals. It includes essays about Polish, Russian and
French theatre, theories of melodrama and comedy, historical and medical simula-
tions, Symbolist drama, erotic puppet theatre, comMie rosse at the Grand Guignol,
Witkacy's Doubles, Villiers de L'lsle Adam, Mroiek, Battleship Potemkin, and other
topics. Translations include Andrzej Bursa's CountCagliostro'sAnimals, Henry Mon-
nier's The Student and the Tart, and Oscar Metenier's Little Bugger and Meat-Ticket.
Price US $2o.oo plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: The Graduate Center Foundation, Inc.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center,
The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NYtoo16-4309
Visit our website at: www. segalcenter.org Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-817-1868
Barcelona Plays: A Collection of New Works by
Catalan Playwrights
Translated and edited by Marion Peter Holt and Sharon G. Feldman
l. .

' . , _ .
. -------
- . ---
The new plays in this collection represent outstanding
playwrights of three generations. Benet i )ornet won
his first drama award in 1963, when was only twenty-
three years old, and in recent decades he has become
Catalonia's leading exponent of thematically chal-
lenging and structurally inventive theatre. His plays
have been performed internationally and translated
into fourteen languages, including Korean and Arabic.
Sergi Belbel and Llu"lsa Cunille arrived on the scene
in the late 198os and early 1990s, with distinctive and
provocative dramatic voices. The actor-director-play-
wright Pau Mir6 is a member of yet another generation
that is now attracting favorable critical attention.
Price US $2o.oo plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
josep M. Benet I }ornet: Two Plays
Translated by Marion Peter Holt
Josep M. Benet i jornet, born in Barcelona, is the
author of more than forty works for the stage and has
been a leading contributor to the striking revitalization
of Catalan theatre in the post-Franco era. Fleeting, a
compelling "tragedy-within-a-play," and Stages,
with its monological recall of a dead and unseen
protagonist, rank among his most important plays.
They provide an introduction to a playwright whose
inventive experiments in dramatic form and treatment
of provocative themes have made him a major figure in
contemporary European theatre.
Price US $15.00 plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: The Graduate Center Foundation, Inc.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center,
The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY10016-4309
Visit our website at: www.segalcenter.org Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-817-1868
Czech Plays: Seven New Works
Edited by Marcy Arlin, Gwynn MacDonald, and Daniel Gerould
Czech Plays: Seven New Works is the first English-
language anthology of Czech plays written after the
1989 "Velvet Revolution." These seven works explore
sex and gender identity, ethnicity and violence, political
corruption, and religious taboos. Using innovative forms
and diverse styles, they tackle the new realities of Czech
society brought on by democracy and globalization with
characteristic humor and intelligence.
Price US $2o.oo each plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
}an Fabre: Servant of Beauty
and I AM A MISTAKE - 7 Works for the Theatre
jon Fabre Books:
I AM A MISTAKE- 7 Works for the Theatre
Edited and foreword by Frank Hentschker
Flemish-Dutch theatre artist jan Fabre has produced
works as a performance artist, theatre maker, choreog-
rapher, opera maker, playwright, and visual artist. Our
two Fabre books include: I am a Mistake (2007),
Etant Donnes (2ooo), Little Body on the Wall (1996),
Je suis sang (2001), Angel of Death (2003) and others.
Price US $15.00 each plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: The Graduate Center Foundation, Inc.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center,
The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY10016-4309
Visit our website at : www.segalcenter.org Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-8171868
roMANIA After 2000
Edited by Saviana Stanescu and Daniel Gerould
Translation editors: Saviana Stanescu and Ruth Margraff
This volume represents the first anthology of new
Romanian Drama published in the United States
and introduces American readers to compelling
11'111111 playwrights and plays that address resonant issues
of a post-totalitarian society on its way toward
democracy and a new European identity. includes
the plays: Stop The Tempo by Gianina Carbunariu,
Romania. Kiss Me! by Bogdan Georgescu, Vitamins by
Vera I on, Romania 21 by Peca, and Waxing West
by Saviana Stanescu.
This publication was produced in collaboration with
the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York and
BAiT: Buenos Aires in Translation
Translated and Edited by jean Graham-jones
BAiT epitomizes true international theatrical
collaboration, bringing together four of the most
important contemporary playwrights from Buenos
Aires and pairing them with four cutting-edge US-
based directors and their ensembles. Throughout a
period of one year, playwrights, translator, directors,
and actors worked together to deliver four English
language world premieres at Performance Space 122
in the fall of 2006. Plays include: "Women Dreamt
Horses" by Daniel Veronese; "A Kingdom, A Country or
a Wasteland, In the Snow" by lola Arias; "Ex-Antwone"
by Federico leon; "Panic" by Rafael Spregelburd. BAiT
is a Performance Space 122 Production, an initiative of
Salon Volcan, with the support of lnstituto Cervantes
and the Consulate General of Argentina in New York.
Price US $2o.oo each plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: The Graduate Center Foundation, Inc.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center,
The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY10016-4309
Visit our website at: www.segalcenter.org Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212-817-1868
Witkiewicz: Seven Plays
Translated and Edited by Daniel Gerould
f '" C1 r f \II)' : C -:;
This volume contains seven of Witkiewicz's most
important plays: The Pragmatists, Tumor Brainiowicz,
Gyubal Wahazar, The Anonymous Work, The Cuttlefish,
Dainty Shapes and Hairy Apes, and The Beelzebub
Sonata, as well as two of his theoretical essays,
"Theoretical Introduction" and "A Few Words About
the Role of the Actor in the Theatre of Pure Form."
Witkiewicz ... takes up and continues the vein of dream
and grotesque fantasy exemplified by the late
Strindberg or by Wedekind; his ideas are closely
paralleled by those of the surrealists and Antonin
Artaud which culminated in the masterpieces of the
dramatists of the Absurd . ... It is high time that this
major playwright should become better known in the
Eng/ish-speaking world. Martin Esslin
Price US $2o.oo plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Playwrights Before the Fall:
Eastern European Drama in Times of Revolution
Edited by Daniel Gerould, preface by Dragon Klaic
Playwrights Before the Fall: Eastern European Drama
in Times of Revolution contains translations of Portrait
by Slawomir Mroiek (Poland); Military Secret by Dusan
Jovanovic (Slovenia); Chicken Head by Gyorgy Spiro
(Hungary); Sorrow, Sorrow, Fear, the Pit and the Rope
by Karel Steigerwald (Czechoslovakia); and Horses
at the Window by Matei (Romania). In this
unique anthology, playwrights examine the moral and
psychological dimensions of the transformations taking
place in society during the years of transition from
totalitarianism to democracy.
Price US $15.00 plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to :The Graduate Center Foundation, Inc.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center,
The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY1oo16-4309
Visit our website at: www.segalcenter.org Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 2128171868
Theatre Research Resources in New York City
Sixth Edition, 2007
Editor: Jessica Brater, Senior Editor: Marvin Carlson
M.\kiiN H SLtu\L fUl!iUJUo CkNHR
Theatre Research Resources in New York City is the
most comprehensive catalogue of New York City
research facilities available to theatre scholars. Within
the indexed volume, each facility is briefly described
including an outline of its holdings and practical
matters such as hours of operation. Most entries
include electronic contact information and web
sites. The listings are grouped as follows: Libraries,
Museums, and Historical Societies; University and
College Libraries; Ethnic and Language Associations;
Theatre Companies and Acting Schools; and Film and
Comedy: A Bibliography
Editor: Meghan Duffy, Senior Editor: Daniel Gerould
This bibliography is intended for scholars, teachers,
students, artists, and general readers interested in
the theory and practice of comedy. The keenest minds
have been drawn to the debate about the nature of
comedy and attracted to speculation about its theory
and practice. For all lovers of comedy Comedy: A
Bibliography is an essential guide and resource,
providing authors, titles, and publication data for over
a thousand books and articles devoted to this most
elusive of genres.
... .___._.__...__....._ __ ,_,

Price US $1o.oo each plus shipping ($3 within the USA, $6 international)
Please make payments in US dollars payable to: The Graduate Center Foundation, Inc.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center,
The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NYtoo164309
Visit our website at: www.segalcenter.org Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 2128171868
Four Plays From North Africa
Translated and edited by Marvin Carlson
This volume contains four modern plays from the
Maghreb: Abdelkader Alloula's The Veil and Fatima
Gallaire's House ofWives, both Algerian, ]a lila Baccar's
Araber/in from Tunisia, and Tayeb Saddiki's The Folies
Berbers from Morocco.
As the rich tradition of modern Arabic theatre has
recently begun to be recognized by the Western theatre
community, an important area within that tradition is
still under-represented in existing anthologies and
scholarship. That is the drama from the Northwest of
Africa, the region known in Arabi c as the Maghreb.
This volume contains four plays based on the Oedipus
legend by four leading dramatists of the Arab world.
Tawfiq AI-Hakim's King Oedipus, Ali Ahmed Bakathir's
The Tragedy of Oedipus, Ali Salim's The Comedy
of Oedipus, and Walid lkhlasi's Oedipus as well as
AI-Hakim's preface to his Oedipus on the subject of
Arabic tragedy, a preface on translating Bakathir by
Dalia Basiouny, and a general introduction by the
An awareness of the rich tradition of modern Arabic
theatre has only recently begun to be felt by the
Western theatre community, and we hope that this
collection will contribute to that growing awareness.
The Arab Oedipus
Edited by Marvin Carlson
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Please make payments in US dollars payable to: The Graduate Center Foundation, Inc.
Mail Checks or money orders to: The Circulation Manager, Martin E. Segal Theat re Center,
The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY1oot64309
Visit our website at: www.segalcenter.org Contact: mestc@gc.cuny.edu or 212817-1868