Jurgita Staniškytė (Vytautas Magnus University)
For a long time theatre was described as a site, where community can contemplate or evaluate the representations of its own past and identity. According to this definition, theatre serves as a social environment that helps shape individual memories into a more or less coherent collective memory. However, in the last two decades post/soviet Baltic theatres has radically revised and complicated the notion of performance as a “vehicle of memory”. First of all, increasing body of contemporary performances that deal with personal memories openly avoid promotion of the sense of “coherent” collective memory or national history, but rather focuses on the notions of dislocation and paradox, on the imaginative or constructive (as well as emotional) aspects of historical narratives and investigate the interplay between reality and fiction in performative displays of individual memories as well as in the nature of historiography itself.
Performances of personal memories are employed onstage for various reasons: as symbolic witnesses to the past; as counter/agents to the official historiography renegotiating its versions and exclusions; as source of an authentic presence. However, contemporary displays of personal memories on Baltic stage often demonstrate quite different urge to play with the notions of “authentic” historical experience and to place the audience in the center of the game as the main agent, which can verify or recognize a given phenomenon / history / memory as fictional or real or, as a matter of fact, can be tricked to do so.
The paper will focus on three different strategies of performing personal memories in post/soviet Baltic theatre that can be conceptualized the following way: autobiographic performances as an urge for the reality effect; mythic representations of personal histories and personal stories on the verge of fictional. The examples of performances by NO99 (Estonia), The New Riga Theatre (Latvia), Oskaras Koršunovas Theatre, The Open Circle Theatre (Lithuania) and others will be analysed in the paper.