Piret Kruuspere (Under and Tuglas Literature Centre): Entangled Dramatic Art and Entangled Memory: Examples from Estonian Plays and Stage

Dramatic art and theatre can both be called entangled cultural phenomena by nature, as they actualize borders, intersections and transfers between text and performance. Thus historical and theoretical study of dramatic literature and theatrical art could focus on the combinations, variations and interwoven patterns of written or print culture and playing culture, a notion that has been proposed by Willmar Sauter.

I am interested in what is called Estonian memory theatre for how it treats and works through collective traumatic experiences of the national historical past. The corresponding examples include dramatic works by the playwrights Rein Saluri and Madis Kõiv, and by the stage director Merle Karusoo. The stage interpretations or readings of their texts will be taken from translations and productions abroad in Finland, Lithuania and Austria and those on the stage of local Russian drama theatre, and these will be compared. This will let me refer to how the texts act in different cultural contexts and let me experience the different reception of theatre artists and audiences.

There will also be an investigation of works by the Irish playwright Brian Friel on the Estonian stage. Asking why some cultures like Irish or Polish culture deal with recall of the past more profoundly and possess long-lasting social memory, Peter Burke has formulated a hypothesis about the ability of historical winners to forget, and the eagerness to remember of those who have experienced attempts from the outside to destroy their historical and cultural roots. I will ask how drama and theatre act within culture as the mood of both memory and the healing process, and how, for instance, Irish drama texts could be integrated into or compared to the discourse of Estonian memory theatre. Or perhaps this phenomenon could even be called a theatre of entangled memory? And how would it relate to the possible creation of an emotional or aesthetic community within the audience (Erika Fischer-Lichte)?


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