Books

Theater Magazine. • A book on public history and Russian culture has been published

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The book “Everything in the Past” was published by the New Publishing House. Theory and Practice of Public History “, co-authored by theater researcher Varvara Sklez.

The book includes articles by art critics and researchers of public history – “public history”, representations of the past in public space. The authors consider the topic of memory through political and art criticism and talk about the role of the past in literature, music, cinema, theater and the media. “Everything in the Past” is the first collective monograph on public history in Russian.

According to editors Andrei Zavadsky, co-founder of the Laboratory of Public History, and Vera Dubina, researcher in the theory and history of culture, the book is divided into five thematic sections: “Living in the Past”, “Writing about the Past”, “Showing the Past”, “Playing in the Past”. and “Manage the Past.”

Varvara Sklez, a researcher on the topic of the past in modern Russian theater, a lecturer at the Ministry of Education and Science and co-founder of the Laboratory of Public History, has authored a chapter on practical and theoretical understanding of the theater’s role in social transformation.

In her article, she writes, in particular: “One of the most important phenomena of reflection on modernity in Russian culture of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is the New Drama movement and the closely related documentary theater. Russian documentary theater of this period is usually associated with the technique of “verbatim”. The verbatim play is based on interviews with real people taken by the authors of the play. A distinctive feature of verbatim is the fullest possible preservation of the living speech of the respondents, in its orthodox version approaching the requirements of oral history. Another important feature of such works is their attention to specific communities and their problems that are outside the public interest.

Mark Lipovetsky and Birgit Boymers noted that verbatim was perceived by Russian playwrights as a way to understand their characters through the peculiarities of their language. According to the authors, the actual replacement of social reality by its “linguistic equivalent – the modern existence of language – has led to a non-reflective reflection of post-Soviet modernity and its conflicts in the Russian documentary theater of the 2000s.”

<…> In 2010, more and more documentary productions began to appear, firstly, not limited to the verbatim method and, secondly, reflecting on the role of the document in the theater. In this sense, it seems natural that Russian theater is increasingly interested in historical topics.

One of the first such examples was the play “Pavlik, my god” (2009, directed by Yevgeny Grigoriev), in which the study of the myth of Pavlik Morozov was combined with a reflection on the playwright Nina Belenitskaya’s own family history. The performances “Me, Anna and Helga” (2011, directed by Georg Zheno) and “The Cargo of Silence” (2011, directed by Mikhail Kaluzhsky) addressed the topic of responsibility for the Nazi past, “The Second Act. Grandchildren ”(2012, authors Mikhail Kaluzhsky, Alexandra Polivanova) and“ Vyatlag ”(2013, directed by Boris Pavlovich) – on the topic of Stalinist repressions”.

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