Nothing Personal: Autobiographic Narratives and Fictional Memories in Post-Soviet Baltic Theatre

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.

Keyword: Staniskyte

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