Teatriuuenduse retseptsioonist sünkroonkriitikas. The Reception of Theatrical Renewal in Contemporary Criticism

Luule Epner

Abstract


The article focuses on the critical reception of innovative theatre productions in the 1960s and 1970s (directors Evald Hermaküla, Jaan Tooming, Kaarin Raid), in which the conflict of discourses in theatre theory becomes obvious and the metalanguage of criticism changes. Censorship made criticism difficult, because it forced the critics to use Marxist terminology in order to protect the productions from attacks based on Soviet ideology. Innovative theatre productions were seen as artistic experiments, but the results were appraised differently. Criticism was divided in regard to the following questions: the relation between the literary text and the means of expression on stage (primarily a question of staying true to the author), about the productions as such in their different meanings, and the actor’s relationship to the director. In the theatre world, the young directors’ renewal was most actively opposed by director Voldemar Panso, who dismissed it as a foreign and hostile direction in opposition to his own aesthetical programme. Kaarel Ird protected the young directors active at the Vanemuine Theatre (of which he was in charge) using Marxist rhetoric of somewhat demagogical character. Some critics, such as Valdeko Tobro, tried to place this new, modernistic type of theatre in familiar aesthetical and rhetorical categories using the aesthetics of Stanislavskian psychological realism. Psychological realism was treated as the tradition and mainstream of Estonian theatre, and any divergence from it was considered dangerous. The semi-underground journal Thespis (1972-1973) used the same metalanguage as the theatre directors. In Thespis, young intellectuals and critics discussed the relationship between theatre and reality, theatre as game and ritual as well as other questions, connecting with Artaud, Grotowski and Brook’s theatrical ideas. The reception of the production Külalised ( The Visitors, 1974) shows how the descriptive language used in criticism was approaching the ideas of the young directors, which were beginning to edge out the vocabulary of Marxist aesthetics. The discourse conflict was considerably mollified. However, the new language of theatre did not receive full recognition; the disputes about the changes of literary text and within which borders interpretation was allowed to operate continued. Another bone of contention was the perspective on the development of Estonian theatre – some critics awaited a synthesis based on psychological realism while others supported artistic pluralism.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7592/methis.v5i7.545

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