Interview: “Contemporary Theatre is an Instrument of Social Change”
Which role does theatre play in a country or region that is subject to distinct regional and transregional conflicts? How does it develop by facing societal and political changes? Oksana Dudko, historian and theatre curator for international theatre festivals including New Drama, and currently fellow at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University, observes an increasing diversity of types of theatre. Dudko explains in the interview how alternative plays as in documentary or neighborhood theatres affect society by fostering interaction between local actors and politicians. Theatre documents contemporary situations and opinions, and it integrates non-professional actors into a play and in that way provokes public and political response by expressing the specific needs of civil society. Throughout her research project “Rattling the Bars of its Cage: New Alternative Theatre in Ukraine” she points out that contemporary theatre not only plays a social role in Ukraine and whole Eastern Europe, but it is also an instrument of social change offering a bottom-up perspective. The interview has been conducted by Gesche Schifferdecker in the framework of the Transregional Winter Academy “Beyond History and Identity: New Perspectives on Aesthetics, Politics, and Society in Eastern Europe”, organized by the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung.
The Winter Academy was initiated in support of the Berlin-Brandenburg Ukrainian Initiative, a new project introduced by Andrii Portnov (Forum Transregionale Studien/Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) to proliferate and re-think the current debates in the field of East European Studies. The Academy was chaired by a group of scholars that includes Rory Finnin (University of Cambridge), Susanne Frank (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Ilia Gerasimov (Ab Imperio), Olena Haleta (Ivan Franko Lviv University), Anna Colin-Lebedev (Sciences Po Paris), Magdalena Marszalek (Universität Potsdam), Andrii Portnov (Forum Transregionale Studien/Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin), and Annette Werberger (Europa-Universität Viadrina). Cooperation partners were the Freie Universität Berlin (FU), Centre Marc Bloch, Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (LCB) and Europe in the Middle East-The Middle East in Europe (EUME).